Most physicians, nurses, hospitals, and health insurance providers agree that patient experience plays a significant role in oncology care, positively impacting everyone involved. The patient experience refers to how patients perceive the care provided by a specific healthcare provider, medical team, or an entire medical facility.
This experience can shape how patients feel about their physician and inform their decision to continue or end the patient-physician relationship. For physicians, hospitals, medical groups, and insurance providers, the patient experience can have a positive or negative financial impact. This is especially true when it comes to the oncological field.
Finding ways to improve patient satisfaction is critical from a business and patient perspective, but doing so isn’t always easy. One way to improve in this area is by making a concerted effort to respond to patient concerns. Studies show that the following are among the top concerns patients have about visiting an oncology practice:
1. Patient Safety
Patient outcomes will suffer if a patient doesn’t feel safe while visiting an oncology practice. According to nearly all naturopathic and many traditional physicians, healing begins in the patient’s mind. When patients are distracted by fear, it adversely affects their physical, emotional, and psychological health. In cancer patients, it can make beating the disease that much harder.
To help patients overcome this fear, physicians and other healthcare providers can ensure patients are aware of safety standards that are in place, from those mandated by the federal government to the ones they take upon themselves to enforce. Because cancer can leave patients with a compromised immune system, it helps to also inform patients of what steps are being taken to minimize their exposure to germs, bacteria, and viruses. Making these two aspects of patient safety a top priority can significantly improve patient outcomes.
2. Access to Telehealth Services
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, patients have become hesitant about seeing their doctor in person. As a result, oncology care has shifted to a hybrid telehealth services model. Allowing remote doctor visits via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and other video conferencing technology can help improve patient outcomes. Studies show patient compliance remains high when patients stay in contact with their physicians. They’re also more likely to communicate changes related to their overall health. These factors remain essential since many patients are still reluctant to schedule in-office visits with their physicians.
3. Patient Care Delivery
Enhancing patient care delivery can lead to improved patient experiences. Things that oncology providers can do to improve in this area and truly satisfy their patients include:
- Having systems in place that streamline care management and care coordination
- Being mindful of a patient’s mental health and well-being as they battle cancer
- Leveraging technology, information, and transparency to help drive favorable patient outcomes
4. Duration and Progress
Providers should give patients an accurate time frame for tests and the physician’s arrival during their appointments. If they’re unable to identify the next steps, they should inform patients when they will be updated on progress. When providers don’t update patients with this information, they might start to worry that there’s a reason for the physician’s delay, such as their labs don’t look good or their cancer treatment isn’t working. Keeping patients up-to-date can decrease their anxiety when wait times are longer than usual.
Workflows have been affected as a result of COVID-19. With limited staff and some employees performing multiple duties, providers are forced to do more with less. The added complexity of already tight staffing models can cause increased delays during oncology appointments. Providers should be transparent with their patients about delays while maintaining the focus on their safety. You can also educate them on safety protocols that are causing extended delays. This will instill trust in your patients and help provide them with a better experience.
5. Patient Feedback
Accepting patient feedback helps providers identify what they’re doing right to pave the way toward improved patient experiences and where they need to improve. Asking patients relevant questions empowers providers to make continuous improvements. Conducting surveys allows you to capture your patients’ feedback following their appointments.
Surveys provide valuable information and insights that help providers respond to patients quickly and improve their overall experience. Improving the patient experience takes time, but minor improvements can make a significant difference in the long run.
The Impact of Cancer on Patient Perception
When someone is diagnosed with cancer, their physician plays a critical role in their ongoing care and recovery. When things aren’t going well or moving along as quickly as they would like, some patients will decide to find a new provider and write about their poor experience online.
Such actions can lead to lower hospital ratings. They can also give way to lower patient lifetime value if a patient no longer feels the need to remain loyal to their healthcare provider. Patient lifetime value is the net profit that an entire future relationship with a patient could potentially generate.
At Verdi Oncology, we empower community oncology practices to optimize the patient experience. By offering the necessary expertise and support, providers can focus on what’s most important — the patient. Contact us to learn more about joining our network.