Consumer experience is top priority for 69 percent of US hospitals: survey
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Consumer experience is top priority for 69 percent of US hospitals: survey

by John R. Fischer , Staff Reporter

Utilized the most in oncology, orthopedics and cardiology, the adoption of patient navigation programs is mainly stimulated by a desire to improve patient engagement, followed by greater patient adherence to care plans, reductions in unnecessary utilization/readmissions, and improved patient retention. While 81 percent of C-suite executives use navigators with clinical backgrounds, programs of high value rely on non-clinical navigators, which were found to be more effective than clinical ones. Ninety-one percent, for instance, experienced improved patient engagement, compared to 61 percent in the other category. The same pattern was found in assessments of patient retention and acquisition.

An additional 60 percent who said their programs were scalable across the enterprise experienced higher patient adherence to care plans and improved patient engagement, compared to 40 percent who said their programs were not scalable. Those who used a patient navigation program in conjunction with a CRM had greater positive outcomes, including improved patient retention and reduced unnecessary utilization/ED visits.
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Kovalick says the importance of these navigation systems stems from the low healthcare literacy and healthcare IQ among consumers, which affects the ability to improve their experiences as patients.

“Many consumers don’t understand what a deductible is. They don’t understand how to go about getting a referral, or making appointments for a referral. They don’t know how to navigate the insurance system or healthcare system in general,” she said. “They justify by default and are unsatisfied with their experience because they don’t know how to do it themselves. That healthcare literacy makes it tough for hospitals and healthcare systems, even physicians, to improve the consumer experience without additional help. These non-clinical navigators enable patients to understand the process a whole lot better and therefore, have a higher level of satisfaction.”

While 43 percent of respondents do not yet have a patient engagement program, 33 percent plan to implement one in the next year or two. In addition, 70 percent of respondents have hired additional staff and implemented physician training to improve interactions with patients, while 32 percent have a dedicated C-suite executive such as a chief experience officer, whose one job is to improve the healthcare consumer experience.

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