Patients naturally want their health concerns addressed — from diagnosis to treatment and recovery. However, as healthcare providers continuously nurture a patient-centered care delivery model, they realize such an assumption falls short as patients want more: A satisfactory experience from a healthcare provider encompasses more than treating an illness or relieving pain.
The patient experience is a journey with you, their healthcare provider. It starts when they find your practice, reach out to you, book an appointment, meet you (in-person or virtually), get a prescription for medication, undergo treatment, and recover.
At any stage, if they experience something that does not meet their expectations, they may leave you, which can influence other patients. It is worth the time to note what patients want from healthcare providers before they walk away from your practice at any given moment.
Join us in this journey of identifying what patients want from healthcare providers.
Patients want providers to understand them, listen to their needs, and be compassionate.
One patient population differs from another regarding their attitude towards healthcare providers and what they expect from them.
Healthcare professionals (HCPs) must pay attention to this because different generations expect different healthcare experiences. You can't give the same experience to patients coming from different ages or generations anymore. You need to make sure that you understand what they need from your services.
Those born after World War II or the Baby Boomers (1946-1964), for example, are the older population or senior citizens. They have greater demands for chronic healthcare and, if they have a disability and are living longer than previous generations, they need special attention.
Generation X patients (1965-1980) seek HCPs more often than the rest of the generations. They are responsible not only for their health but for children and their aging parents.
Millennials (1981-1996) take great responsibility for their health as they tend to seek out online resources for non-traditional ways to keep a healthy lifestyle or wellness. Communispace research in 2015 reveals that Millennials are more likely to use different care options, including alternative treatments, home remedies, and urgent-care services.
On the other hand, Generation Z (1997-2012) see healthcare as a minor concern than their older counterparts. While most of them won’t be making their health decisions yet, the rest are likely to be influenced by the Millennials who share similar age traits, such as online connectivity. They would likewise seek out alternative options online for their health related concerns.
Regardless, when patients from any of these generations see you in your clinic or virtually, they may not outrightly tell you, but they want to feel that you understand their feelings or health concerns, even in little ways. A simple question of "how are you feeling today?" sets their mood for the rest of your conversation.
To ease them, if necessary, you can offer them a glass of water or ask how you could make them more comfortable before the exam or discussion of their health.
It also makes sense then that you invest in a care team or assistants that are highly capable of being compassionate to patients. If you have to choose between fancy decor or a team that listens to and respects patients’ needs and concerns, choose the team — it’s a much better investment. While on the topic of investing in your practice, consider adding convenience for patients.
Patients want convenience.
Common among all patient generations is the preference for convenience. Even the generations that did not grow up with the Internet embrace the benefits of living in a digital world where you can find, access, and pay for almost anything online.
As such, many patients now want to find, book, and receive care from HCPs online if the condition permits. A study published at the American Journal of Managed Care in 2019 revealed that video virtual visits were “vastly preferred to office visits by patients for convenience and travel time.” The COVID-19 pandemic further established the need for remote healthcare services for patients to use in the comfort of their homes. Insights to a survey last year suggest that this trend “may last well beyond the pandemic.”
For in-person visits, patients particularly want to find HCPs near their residences. As most patients work weekdays, they also appreciate HCPs that offer care services beyond regular working hours, or on weekends. Telehealth can provide this service, giving your patients the convenience they need to keep their health a priority.
Many patients also want convenience when booking an HCP appointment via a straightforward, commonly used, but secure way: HIPAA-compliant text messaging.
Patients want credible and reputable providers.
Whether by your professional record or clientele ratings, patients want to experience health care from trustworthy providers. It means that patients seek out HCPs with high satisfaction ratings. They read your profile carefully and look for online reviews to learn what other patients say about your practice.
Patients are always looking for HCPs who they can offer, in return, their loyalty. Trust is what most patients, across generations, want, and a provider must try to achieve it from patients.
The Baby Boomers are more particular about your track record. Generation X patients take time to ask their Baby Boomer parents and weigh it against what is available online about an HCP's background. The Millenials and Gen Z trust what peers say about your practice.
It’s important to have your credibility and reputation online, not to brag about it, but to help patients with their options and, hopefully, choose you as their provider because of your reputation but also the active role you allow patients to have.
Patients want a provider that recognizes their active role in care management.
Individuals have control over their lives, including their healthcare. They prefer HCPs that treat them as partners or peers in healthcare management rather than the approach that doctors know best and they are to do as they are told. Patients want providers to see them as a whole person, more than their symptoms or health conditions.
Patients want you and your care team to always consult them about their condition or medication. They want collaborative healthcare management, involving them in every single aspect of the care plan you create.
The infusion of digital technology into healthcare has opened vast possibilities for sharing and accessing information. Given that, patients now also want access to their health information anytime and anywhere. Practice management systems make this possible for medical practices through which you can share information, or get and give updates on your patients.
Patients want a transparent provider who communicates with them.
Patients initiated the communication process with your practice the moment they reached out and booked an appointment. Patients want their providers to communicate with them, too, during and after the visit for follow-up care.
When you listen to your patients' descriptions of their symptoms, respond if you do understand or not. Ask for more details if you need them. Then offer your patients medical advice, as they appreciate the open communication. Ask if they have any questions or need clarification over what you discussed about their condition and your recommendations.
Patients wish for transparency and appreciate HCPs that tell them as much as possible, such as what doctors know about the condition, success rate and duration of treatment, risks (even if only for a medication), costs involved, and alternative options, if applicable.
Patients want time and attentive care from healthcare providers.
When patients see you for an appointment, they want your undivided time and attention. However valuable time is for providers, it is more important to focus on the patient when you see them and engage with them.
Patients are hypersensitive to being rushed and dislike feeling that a doctor is distracted or not paying attention to them. They want you and your care team to display genuine care and compassion. It means a lot to patients for their healthcare provider to talk to them straight into the eyes, displaying that they are focusing all their time on them at that moment.
Part of doing this is being prepared. Before an appointment you have already checked available patient profile and medical information. So when a patient arrives, you have nothing else to do other than attend to them.
Patients want providers to offer telehealth.
It matters to patients when providers demonstrate digital technology capabilities. Patients see HCPs as more accessible and effective in providing healthcare when they can offer telemedicine or telehealth, especially during a public health emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patients desire HCPs who can administer care in the comfort of their homes or any other private location, saving them time traveling back and forth to the clinic, especially when they are too sick to travel or have mobility issues. It also saves them time and effort looking for reliable child and elderly care when they won’t have to leave their homes to see a physician.
Patients who live in rural communities, where the nearest hospital is miles away, still get the care they need from virtually available healthcare services through telehealth.
To appeal to patients, be attentive, show compassion, offer alternative care through technology, and communicate effectively.
Patients want healthcare providers to attend to their health conditions and treat them as more than the symptoms or pain they may feel. Their satisfaction is born out of their positive experience with your service more than the simple or complex care you provide. Patients want you to treat them as partners, which requires you to communicate with them effectively, attentively, and compassionately offer alternative care to them through technology.