Around the world, healthcare consumers are becoming more savvy, payers are demanding high-quality care, and research groups have found more and more convincing evidence as to why the ability to prioritize and manage the patient experience is so important to a positive overall healthcare experience. There is also a growing body of evidence that a great patient experience improves financial performance. According to a recent report by Accenture, a well-known strategy and consulting organization: “A superior customer experience doesn’t just strengthen patient engagement — it also correlates to 50 percent higher hospital margins.”1
Enhancing the patient experience is especially important in medical travel due to the hospitality and travel components that must be managed across the medical travel care continuum. A hospital or clinic may have great healthcare outcomes but still fall short of delivering a high-quality patient experience. Potential potholes on the road to achieving a high-quality patient experience in medical travel include:
• Prospects or patients getting lost on your website or not finding relevant information
• Slow response times to patient inquiries
• Poor communication and education due to language barriers
• Lack of cultural sensibility among staff
• The hospital lacks established care paths and protocols for medical travelers
• Poor follow-up after a patient travels home
• Staff have not been trained to understand and manage a medical traveler’s expectations
One of the most important steps you can take to improve the patient experience is to train your staff. Doctors study for years in order to diagnose and treat patients. Nurses undergo intensive training and certification. Even a hospital’s cleaning staff follows certain protocols to perform their jobs well. The same principle should apply to every staff member responsible for caring for medical travelers. Don’t underestimate the impact your staff has on your medical travel program, both positive and negative.
Staff who are the first point of contact with your organization, which includes but isn’t limited to call center employees, international office staff and receptionists, are among the most important positions in your organization and should be supported as such. They are on the frontlines delivering first impressions and in a position to detect potential problems before they escalate. To ensure staff are well-equipped to manage medical travelers, they should be trained to:
• Anticipate international patient needs and expectations
• Understand the necessary services, both clinical and non-clinical expected by patients
• Use proper communication techniques
• Practice cultural and emotional sensibility
• Implement risk management protocols when accepting and attending patients
• Apply critical thinking skills to proactively mitigate risk and enhance the overall patient experience
• Properly manage the continuum of care process
Avoid the temptation of saying, “Juan from marketing can handle international patient requests…or we can move Susan from admissions, she speaks Spanish pretty well.” Give your staff the knowledge and tools to proactively impact the patient experience at each stage along the medical travel care continuum.
Join us August 21st at 10 am EDT to learn about the Global Healthcare Accreditation ® (GHA) Program, an independent accrediting body that seeks to improve the patient experience and excellence of care received by patients who travel for their medical care. GHA represents an innovative approach towards the importance of achieving medical travel accreditation while focusing specifically on operational excellence and the patient experience, a business strategy that will impact organizations across all services provided.
This Free Webinar will also feature Mercy Hospital Springfield sharing their perspective on the value of GHA accreditation. In 2016, Mercy Hospital Springfield – one of the largest Catholic health systems in the US, became the first organization accredited by GHA.
Click here to register for this Free Webinar.