In August, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released their rankings of hospitals based on patient experience data collected in 2015-2016. The report revealed that only 6 percent of hospitals are receiving the highest ranking of five stars. That means it’s easier to get accepted into Yale than it is for a hospital to achieve the highest patient-experience ranking from CMS.
In fact, only 215 hospitals out of 3,504 got that high-five. And although the report was limited to hospital data, the lessons learned from the patient experiences in these 5-star hospitals can apply to any healthcare setting.
What do you need to do to offer a 5-star patient experience in your practice? Take a look at how CMS broke it down, with the three top indicators of a next-level patient experience.
Seamless Payment Options
Setting appointments, estimating the cost of care, transferring records, and payment for services: these transactional interactions can have a big impact on patient experience.
For example, if there’s a discrepancy between the price a patient expects to pay for a service and the amount on their final bill, that has a predictably negative impact. That’s why 84 percent of consumers say that price estimationplays a big role in their choice of provider.
Limited payment options can also lead to stressed out patients. When you make it easy for patients to pay for services at your clinic, it makes everyone happy – and CMS loves it when patients find it easy to settle their tab.
The takeaway? Give accurate estimates for services, and make it easy for your patients to pay digitally. That’s the kind of service that has CMS seeing stars.
You Heard It: Easy Referrals
It turns out that CMS loves a painless referral just as much as we do – and we have kind of a thing for foolproof referrals. Nearly 50% of patient referrals never result in a office visit. But the status quo in healthcare leaves patients waiting for specialty referrals, falling short of CMS standards for patient experience.
Access is crucial to a positive patient experience, and convenience drives patient choice for both primary care providers and specialists. In fact, 42% of consumers say that a shorter travel distance influences whether they will choose a certain specialty care provider. There are some companies exploring the accessibility of transportation as well.
There are a lot of reasons to streamline your referral procedure (from reducing staff’s tedious admin work, to boosting your revenue). You don’t just ensure that your patients have convenient access…you also level up in patient experience that catches CMS attention.
Quality Over Quantity
Unfortunately, a lack of transparency in both pricing and value has been the norm in healthcare, leaving patients guessing before receiving the final bill. But changing policies and technology are producing savvier consumers.
That’s why CMS wants to reorient healthcare as a service-based industry. That means paying attention to the details that patients care about – and according to patients, clinical quality and service account for 60% of the top loyalty drivers for specialists.
According to Yelp data, healthcare business are rated at a higher satisfaction level compared to all other businesses. In fact, they’re the third most commonly reviewed businesses after restaurants and hotels. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that CMS cares about how much value you deliver. But it’s not just CMS – today’s patients are also demanding a combination of high-quality, experienced care with stellar service.
If you want to see how little attention is currently given to service in healthcare, just check out online reviews of local hospitals, clinics and practices. When you put the focus on quality and service, you end up with happy patients.
The keys to a next-level patient experience are transparency, simple care transitions, and clinical quality. Prioritize these three points to provide a patient experience that ranks among the best of the best!