Patient Experience Key to Unlocking Engagement Potential

Posted on September 19, 2012 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

I enjoy my day job, fortunately (it actually encourages my blogging-on-the-side habit), and I love it even more when our product marketing manager, Jessica Clifton, rolls into town from up North to spend a week or so with our team plotting, planning and catching up. Yesterday found us finalizing a new report, “10 Trends in Hospital Patient Experience,” before the dismissal bell rang at 5 p.m. As I read over it with my editor’s hat on, I realized that if hospitals want to not only increase patient satisfaction, but also more easily meet Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements pertaining to electronic patient communication, then diving into patient experience/satisfaction surveys are a good place to gain insight into both.

Let me back up a bit. First, let’s review the Stage 2 requirements pertaining to digital patient engagement, as so nicely compiled by Brian Ahier:

  • Use secure messaging to communicate with patients on relevant health information
  • Use Certified EHR Technology to identify patient-specific education resources and provide those resources to the patient
  • Provide patients the ability to view online, download, and transmit their health information within 4 business days of the information being available
  • Use clinically relevant information to identify patients who should receive reminders for preventative/follow-up care
  • Provide clinical summaries for patients for each office visit

Now, let’s take a look at some of the common categories covered in patient experience surveys:

  • How often did doctors communicate well with patients?
  • How often did nurses communicate well with patients?
  • Were patients given information about what to do during recovery at home?

While the national average of patient responses for these particular questions were in the 77 to 83 percent range, other categories of patient experience didn’t fare so well. Our report found that “Patients rated staff explanation of medications (prior to administering) most poorly, with 20 percent of those surveyed indicating it sometimes or never occurred. Seventeen percent of patients surveyed reported not being given instruction on at-home recovery care.”

I’ve obviously cherry-picked those survey sections having to do with patient communication, and I’ve done so to highlight the opportunities providers have to begin meeting their electronic messaging quota in the areas patients seem to need it most.

I’d be interested in hearing from providers as to how they are going to go about increasing their digital engagement with patients. Did the latest batch of patient surveys provide any insight? Please share your experiences below.