(Featured in Australian Financial Review Magazine)

The legacy of the new digital connected world is that we are always “on.” We are constantly checking email, text messages, and social updates on mobile phones.

At the same time, we are receiving traditional mail and phone messages at the practice. We are bombarded with constant communication!

Unfortunately, this isn’t going to change any time soon.

In discussions with healthcare professionals, they tell me they don’t have enough “time” in their day. They feel like they are swimming against the tide, chasing their tail and never able to catch up.

In practices, if there isn’t enough time spent with each patient then we don’t have time to care and the humanity of the interaction is diminished.

If you don’t think you have time to focus on your patients’ experience, think again!

With the rise of digital technology, patients have unprecedented power and their expectations have changed.

Like it or not, your patient’s experience is now inextricably linked to practice success. At the same time, the way we interact with the world is changing.

Complex social changes, cultural shifts towards sharing and participation, innovative technologies and changing

patient expectations have combined to render the traditional practice model obsolete.

Healthcare practices must respond and progress towards a sustainable model and improved competitiveness, productivity and quality.

Today’s practice should focus on the patient’s experience and journey and its impact on both patients and practice outcomes.

Practice success is intrinsically linked to increasing employee engagement and patient satisfaction, loyalty and ratings, and understanding the effect of these metrics on practice cash flow, revenue and growth.

Numerous well-executed systematic reviews and metaanalyses provide evidence indicating patient-centred care has a positive influence on patient outcomes such as patient interactions with healthcare professionals, adherence to medication and lifestyle routines, patient self-reported health, and physiologic health outcomes.

Furthermore, patient-centred care improves patient health status and increases the efficiency of care by reducing diagnostic tests and referrals.

The myth of being “too busy” to think about patient experience must be dispelled if your practice is to thrive into the future.

Instead, perhaps this is an opportunity to:

  • Take the time to reimagine how your practice operating model could be, rather than how it currently is

  • Shift our views and thinking about health and care
  • Invest in improving your patients’ experience so they can participate
  • Disrupt your practice before disruption is imposed and your practice gets left behind.

How Can We Emphasise The Human Factor And Get Back To The Real Relationship With The Human-To-Human Bond?

Fundamentally, healthcare professionals spend a lot of time doing things that others can do for them.

We now have technology similar to an assistant, which can do many of the things that healthcare professionals do today.

My view is that healthcare professionals should be involved in the most human elements of care.

A very large percentage of what healthcare professionals do can be done with technology, which would free them up to do other things.

No healthcare professional spends enough time with the typical patient. The median patient visit is too short.

We need to allocate our available time to care.

Technology To Support Patient Experience

Patient interactions with both healthcare and technology are evolving. Patients want to be more informed and in control of their healthcare, and technology is key in helping them meet these needs.

The use of health apps and wearable technology in the market has more than doubled over the past two years, as more patients look to digital means to access health records, keep track of their health, and interact with their healthcare professionals.

In this era of technology, practices need to develop digital programs designed to elevate the level of services available to both healthcare professionals and their patients.

These digital programs need to support the delivery of a patient-centred experience, allowing patients to track interactions, manage bookings, receive notifications, and keep a central healthcare record — all in one place. Practice technology investment should be designed to support three key outcomes:

  • Provide patients with improved access to their health information
  • Support healthcare professionals to maximise time spent on human elements of care and minimise administrative-based work
  • Support every practice team member to deliver a better care experience for their patients

My view is that the practice operating model must evolve to integrate technology systems designed to support the patient experience and enable each member of the practice team to emphasise the human elements of quality care.

The goal should be to emphasise the ‘care’ in healthcare.

Shelley Thomson is Australia’s most respected authority on patient-centred growth strategies. For more than 30 years, healthcare professionals and executives have sought her advice on how to seamlessly adopt a patient-centred model that is better-equipped to deal with the many difficult problems facing modern-day healthcare.

Her book Patients For Life Dismantles the myths and assumptions that medical professionals often have about their patients and what makes their practices successful.

Through personal insights, research and case studies, Shelley will show you how to grow your practice around a patient-centred experience to improve your bottom line, reputation and service at the same time.

To order a free copy of Patients For Life visit www.PatientsForLifeBook.com.au/AFR

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