Healthcare organizations looking for solutions to save money and improve care can overlook one key source of frontline insights — your patients.
What patients know about saving money and improving care could provide your hospital with the answers it needs in relation to cost-cutting, improving operational efficiencies, and enhancing patient care. Accessing that information is achieved through the application of ethnography.
Ethnography is an innovative practice that studies the culture and habits of people in specific situations. In healthcare, it can be used to improve patient and family satisfaction and care coordination within a bundled payment model by gaining frontline insights from patients and their families.
Hospitals deliver enormous value to their communities with initiatives to promote health and well-being, prevent disease, and strengthen community partnerships. Building on these relationships with ethnographic techniques enhances that trust.
Your hospital will need a unique patient map and proven strategies to deliver robust and data-rich insights by:
- Targeting the true needs of your patients and their families.
- Revealing the frustrations for patients and families in their experience with your hospital.
These insights inform the implementation of an actionable roadmap with innovative ideas for improvement.
As CMS now reimburses hospitals based on the quality of their patient care, which incorporates the patient experience, I encourage all healthcare providers to carry out this process.
Here are three areas where patient insights can help to deliver cost-saving initiatives. These can be frequently overlooked in the pressured environment in which hospital leaders often find themselves.
The impact of silos in your hospital
The patient journey through your hospital is complex, often involving multiple departments. When teams work in silos, or communication breaks down, the patient experience suffers. Patients also express concern over this process.
The breaking down of silos improves patient flow through your hospital, especially in critical areas, such as the ER. This is a concern for physicians as well as patients, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians:
- 60% said overcrowding forces the diversion of patients with urgent needs elsewhere.
- 28% stated this occurs more than 20 times every year.
Hospital-wide resources management can save your hospital money and improve care. Our comprehensive Patient Journey Mapping™ survey can help to reveal the vulnerable points in your hospital which are increasing costs and impacting patient care.
The patient discharge process
Clear communication at the time of patient discharge means that patients are less likely to be readmitted to your hospital. The average readmission cost per diagnosis back in 2016 was $14,400. Furthermore, it is estimated that one in six patients are now readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge.
Patients want to know what to expect when leaving the hospital after treatment or surgery. Research shows that when patients clearly understand guidance around their medications and care when arriving home, readmissions fall. Frontline insights from your patients will reinforce the need for hospital staff to ensure they fully comprehend all instructions and guidance relating to their discharge.
It should also be noted that we strongly recommend confirming the patient’s social circumstances prior to the time of discharge. Social determinants of health can often cause patients to return to the ER with the same symptoms that resulted in their initial admission.
The overlooked patient billing experience
As I highlighted above, CMS reimbursement is becoming increasingly dependent on patient satisfaction and that satisfaction includes the billing process.
Their experience with billing is often both the initial and final interaction your patients have with your organization. If they believe they are overcharged or their expectations are not met, patient satisfaction suffers.
The extent of the impact on your operating margins is revealed in a study published in October 2019 which found that US healthcare consumers will change their providers over a poor digital experience — which includes online bill payment and e-mailed billing processes.
- 41% of consumers would choose another healthcare provider over a poor digital experience.
- Furthermore, 60% of consumers find healthcare bills confusing, which often results in delayed payment and less money to invest in your hospital.
- In addition, that poor experience can lead to lower patient satisfaction scores and lower reimbursements.
Gaining invaluable patient insights into this often overlooked area can help to transform your overall patient experience and save your hospital money, particularly in administrative costs involved in billing.