The user experience is the cornerstone of success - this has long been understood by the service industry. If the user experience is bad, the customer takes their money elsewhere. In the health sector, the focus has been on taking care of the patient's health and the patient experience has come second. Here, the actors must think new, and the health services of the future should provide a better patient experience.
Although the patient's health must of course be in focus, and we have received treatment, it is not necessarily the case that we feel well taken care of as patients. This may be due to a long waiting time for treatment, waiting time at the doctor's office, or you feel that the doctor or other treatment staff does not have time to listen to you.
In addition, it may have been difficult to understand the information in the notice, so that you did not show up prepared for the class. In the worst case, you have to get a new hour for which there may be a long wait.
All of these factors, and more, affect the patient experience in the face of healthcare.
Although the most important thing is the medical treatment, the patient experience is also important. And it has unfortunately been put in the second row for far too long.
A change is on the way
Fortunately, we are now seeing an increase in interest in the patient experience. The sector is beginning to recognize that the patient's experiences from meetings with the health service are important for whether they feel that they have received good care and treatment.
Where the health sector is already struggling with a lack of resources, with the impending wave of elderly people, there will be more patients to distribute the resources to.
The development will be strongly influenced by the fact that in the future we will have greater cost pressure as the population ages, the labor force shrinks and the demand for services increases.
In light of this and the COVID-19 pandemic, new health technologies are emerging. In addition to the medical features, these can also be used to provide a better patient experience.
New health technology and digital solutions can help reduce staff workload and give patients more insight and a better experience.
What must be done to achieve results that also meet the challenges of the future?
We must start by defining how much the patient experience counts in the health services in general, and what the patient experience consists of.
Solving problems related to the patient experience and reforming services requires ingenuity, courage and an open mind.
A clear problem in the health sector is a lack of resources - and this is not just a problem in Norway, but on a global scale.
As a general rule, discussions with healthcare professionals show that they are working in survival mode: they must do what they can to ensure that demand is met. All focus is on how you can use the working hours of nurses and doctors as efficiently as possible, "says Toni Hirvonen in Axel Health, Finland.
We often see this again in patients' descriptions that they feel healthcare professionals do not have time to listen to them. This type of patient experience is directly linked to a general lack of resources in the sector.
Many people who work in the health care system also feel this, and feel that they are not reaching out because they have a constantly bad time.
Everyday work affects the patient experience
The fact that healthcare professionals feel time pressure and lack of resources is not a good starting point for a good patient experience.
If the staff is dissatisfied with everyday work, this also affects the patients in a negative way.
Even if you have a strong inner motivation to help and to do a good job, busy days and many distractions affect how the staff feel, which in turn determines how the patients are treated.
Some are completely exhausted, and some decide to change careers.
A good patient experience does not only depend on improving the services that the patient receives or developing the patient reception.
When there is a lack of resources, everyday work must also be improved by dealing with operational challenges and reorganizing work.
What factors influence the patient experience?
- How easy it is to book an appointment.
- Waiting time at treatment site and / or for summons to treatment.
- Arrival at the treatment site, experience in the room.
- Registration and interaction along the way.
- Experience in finding the place of agreement.
- Interaction with medical staff.
- The patient's experience of continuing to further treatment / examination.
- Information flow between different departments and institutions.
- Whether instructions received were understandable.
- Further treatment.
- Whether it was easy to use digital services.
How can we create a better patient experience?
Some of the patient experience can only be improved by being greeted by friendly and smiling healthcare professionals. This is the same for most industries.
But the causes of a bad patient experience go deeper than that. And it often depends on how the health services are organized.
Health technology can be used to improve the patient experience
New health technologies and digital health services open up new opportunities to improve the patient experience.
First, health technology can be used to collect data about the patient experience. These can then form a basis for change and improvement of the services.
But most importantly, health technology and digital health services can streamline the health sector and reduce costs.
Technology can be used to better facilitate the flow of information, measure the patient experience and collect data.
Health technology improves the flow of information
By using health technology, the flow of information between both doctor and patient, but also internally between departments, can be improved.
Prior to the consultation, a better flow of information can give the patient a better overview of the actual course of treatment. What will happen next, why and where are they going?
At the same time, the doctor and patient can easily communicate, and the patient can request more information, or ask for an explanation of what they need to do in preparation before class.
With the help of digital technology, information can also be sent between wards, or stored in cloud solutions, so that the patient does not have to think about having all possible papers from ward to ward, or institution to institution.
In addition, the patient can easily access test results and appointments via digital solutions.
Better use of resources
The biggest advantage of using digital health services and health technology, however, is that the resources can be used in a better way.
Approximately 80% of all patients can be treated without physical attendance. It saves patients a lot of time.
In addition, this means that there are fewer patients physically in the doctor's office and the emergency room, so that those who actually have to show up physically can receive faster treatment.
By using eClinic's symptom checks or KI-based triage with a nurse, the patient's symptoms and condition can be quickly assessed. In this way, the patient can be referred to the most favorable treatment.
Portable devices can provide increased patient safety and a better patient experience
Various portable devices and monitoring equipment can be used to monitor symptoms and values in the body. The data collected from a portable device that measures heart rate, sleep, glucose levels, etc. can be very valuable in helping physicians tailor treatment plans.
This may, for example, apply to the treatment of chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart disease.
Such devices can increase patient safety because information can be sent from the device directly to the emergency room if the values should reach dangerous levels. With closer follow-up, the patient experience will also be better, because you feel more taken care of.
The technology must have a clear function
The danger with all use of technology is that it is seen as an additional function. In order to improve the patient experience, health technology and digital health services must have a clear function and advantage.
It must not be or appear to be an additional solution. If it does not have a clear function in the treatment process, something has gone wrong in the implementation.
What are the patients' expectations?
When technology and digital health services are to be used to improve the patient experience, we must take the patient as our starting point.
When a patient contacts the healthcare system, it is for medical reasons. They are often already uneasy about their own situation, and we must not add to the burden by making the process more difficult for them.
We must provide them with automated services and self-service solutions that are closely linked to the delivery of health services.
Self-service solutions, apps and text messages that can convey information and provide feedback are natural choices. In this way, the communication process can be streamlined for the benefit of all.
Successful digitization supports staff work
In the same way as the digital solutions offered to the customer, the employee's tools must also easily provide the necessary information at all times.
The interface must be visual and intuitive, so there is no need to sacrifice any cognitive energy in managing the tool.
"The patient's mood when it comes to treatment is usually not such that they want to waste time using technical equipment. Therefore, the technical solution offered must be simple. […] It is important to respond to the patient's need for information, for example if they are in the right place, what will happen next and when or if they can visit the café while waiting for their turn », explains Toni Hirvonen.
The information needed at different stages must be available in an easily digestible form and at the right time.
The better the internal system works, the more time can be spent on patients.
The technology should support the staff, not take over for them
There are some who believe that algorithms, KI and robots will replace doctors, but it is unlikely that KI will replace human judgment and instinct. A medical diagnosis is based on many years of experience and training, it is more of an art form, and part of the diagnosis is to evaluate the person's general state of health.
I do not think we will ever get to a point where robots will replace doctors. However, KI can be a tool for doctors, to help with a treatment process and build bridges over any knowledge gaps. Because there are so many new medical advances and clinical articles being published, it is impossible for anyone to read all the subject matter that is available.
Therefore, a tool such as eClinics KI-assisting symptom checks can quickly assess the symptoms and make a preliminary diagnosis.
For example, eClinic's tools can analyze around 12.000 symptoms and make around 900 diagnoses much faster than a human.
If the use of health technology and digital health services is implemented in a good way, it will benefit both the patient and the therapist.