Patient Journey Part 2: Improving patient experience of oncology patients with real time engagement.
In our first installment of this blog, we discussed creating a patient-centric operational treatment plan, and using an omnichannel approach to delegate and empower the patient as an integral part of the oncology patient journey. In this post we will focus on addressing patient needs during the patient journey at a medical facility.
Improving patient experience in healthcare for cancer patients needs to focus on alleviating stress and anxiety, specifically for the preparatory phases and throughout patients’ onsite treatment plans, scans and follow-ups.
How can IT improve the oncology in-visit patient experience? Isn’t it up to the care team and supporting family? True, it’s up to them, yet IT solutions can improve and enhance many parts of the patient journey that address user experience, productivity and care coordination for the patient and for supporting family, and also for the care team.
Considering the components involved in improving the patient outcomes and journey, we should take into account standard steps, which can be very significant to cancer patients, and those other aspects that have the capacity of assisting patients and care teams in any medical practice.
Preparing for the visit
Visit preparation includes screening forms, billing processes, reminders and confirmations. This is part of the planned journey, therefore the provider has to proactively communicate with the patient and jointly accomplish all these tasks to ensure efficient care coordination on behalf of the provider, and reassure the patient—providing her or him with the peace of mind that all is going as planned.
This step might seem trivial, but it’s not. When arriving by car, oncology patients and their families should neither waste time on seeking available parking, nor park far from their destination. Parking is an important resource that should be accessible and coordinated with the patient's appointment. Arriving late due to parking problems is unnecessary operational waste and adds undesirable stress to both patients and staff.
Similar to the above, there is a need for a tool that reduces wait times. When the patient arrives at the medical facility, if all related documentation and preparations were taken care of in advance, there’s no need to go through, or wait in line for the receptionist. A digital check-in solution (smartphone app, landing page or a kiosk) can improve the patient’s experience by validating patient information, providing important information on where to go and what to do to expedite treatment, or even where to go while waiting for treatment. This saves time and resources both for the provider and the patient.
Keeping patient's privacy
Calling the patient for any care service has to align with HIPPA rules, i.e., not call the patient by name. A patient has to be provided with a unique identifier for the visit and will be called by this identifier to treatment service. This identifier is also used for viewing the patient’s status on digital whiteboards. Incorporating a queue management solution can provide important input to the patient and assist the care team by letting them focus on providing care to patients in treatment instead of being distracted by patients waiting for treatment.
Control and relax
Oncology patients will be more relaxed and calmer if they are informed and in-control of various aspects of their visit. Informing and engaging the patient in real time with the expected waiting time, blood tests and radiology screening results, treatment dose arrival, delays, changes and more, is not only useful for the patient, it can also improve operational efficiency and the treatment itself using automated and optimized care path workflows that facilitate back-office work (such as checking with the pharmacy when the patient’s treatment dose will arrive) and enable the care team to give their utmost attention to the current patient in treatment.
A useful method for maintaining low anxiety levels is providing and promoting in-visit patient activities. Offering and coordinating social, therapeutic and fun activities let patients take their minds off their illness and therefore are perceived by providers as a truly worthy endeavor. Synchronizing these activities with treatment is where technology comes in. For example, when there’s a long waiting time, providers may offer patients suitable activities that match the expected waiting time.
Music is a proven therapy for reducing stress levels in radiotherapy treatments; providers should not only encourage patients to bring their own music with them to treatment, but should equip their treatment facilities with available music devices and activities. Even though this is a good idea, executing it can be complicated without implementing the right technology. For example, in radiotherapy wards, patients cannot bring in their own devices and dancing (or close to that...) throughout their treatment would unwittingly extend treatment duration, which is a loss of time for the patient and loss of revenue for the provider.
Voice of the Customer
It’s highly recommended that at the end of the patient visit, the patient will provide feedback on all relevant care aspects.
The provider can use various solutions to collect feedback, but it’s very important to configure and match the feedback questionnaire to the right patient journey with the right PROMs data. It’s also important to ensure the customer’s feedback is communicated securely and linked to the patient case. Incorporating feedback data with real time data collected throughout the patient journey gives a comprehensive view of the patient journey, which can be used as the basis for optimizing patient throughput, operational efficiency and reimbursement payments.
Q-nomy's patient journey platform and day care solutions enable healthcare providers to plan an engaged patient journey and orchestrate the journey in real time using an omnichannel approach for direct patient-provider interaction. The evident benefits are highly-improved patient and staff experience, reduction of operational waste, complementing EHR investments and gaining real time insights based on patient-journey and PROMs metrics.
We invite you to try out our patient journey solutions at HIMSS20, March 9–13th in Orlando.