A few weeks ago we posted the first article in a five-article series that outlines Geonetric’s strategy framework for eHealth: the eHealth Maturity Model. The article focused on the first level of the model which is critical mass adoption. Gaining adoption is definitely an important first step to a successful eHealth strategy, but it’s essentially a blind measure of the performance of your Web site or portal. Once you have gained adoption, you need to move on to the next step: measuring satisfaction. Although satisfaction is much more complex to measure, it provides more actionable insight from your visitors.
The patient experience
Most everyone measures patient satisfaction within their hospital settings, but few do it in a way that’s meaningful in terms of eHealth transactions. Taking a broad look at the entire patient experience, there are many aspects of patient satisfaction that happen before and after the actual physician encounter occurs. Many of these pre- and post-encounter activities are happening online with greater and greater frequency.
Let’s take a look at some of the activities included in the entire patient experience:
1. Patient health research
Prior to a visit, many patients conduct research. They:
- Search the Web for information about a condition or services provided
- Search the Web for a provider (or even just their contact information)
- Research specialists their physician has referred them to
- Watch online videos
- Research quality information and cost
Once patients decide a visit is needed, they go through several steps before seeing the healthcare provider. They may:
- Request or schedule an appointment online
- Complete and submit registration forms online
- Complete and submit payment information online
Patient satisfaction during the actual visit may be determined based on their:
- Experience finding the office
- Time spent waiting to see the healthcare provider
- Perception of the demeanor of providers and staff
- Assessment of the provider’s sensitivity to patient needs
- Overall rating of care
After the visit, the patient may:
- Receive discharge instructions and patient education materials
- Arrange payment details
- Fill prescriptions
- Schedule follow-up appointments/tests/etc
- Purchase medical products (e.g., crutches, wheel chairs, etc.)
Follow-up activities may include:
- Ongoing measurement of patient adherence to care regimen (“plan of care”)
- Access to providers for ongoing questions
- Subsequent conversation with providers and staff
Most of today’s patient satisfaction research is focused on the encounter (#3) and some on the intake (#2). Press Ganey Associates released an excellent report earlier this year citing the heightened expectations patients have, and the empowerment they feel when allowed to choose how to receive care. But even this report doesn’t aim at the entire patient experience as we’re outlining here.
Level 2: Measurable satisfaction
For the second stage of the eHealth Maturity Model, we need a toolset that give us the broadest possible view of patient satisfaction at each step of their experience. The tool set needs to also measure satisfaction — in real-time — as patients transition from one step to the next.
What does that look like?
There are many ways this can be applied. Here are a few examples:
- After searching for a physician, does your Web site prompt the visitor with the quick question, “Did you find what you were looking for?”
- After requesting or scheduling an appointment, does your portal ask the visitor, “Would you recommend making an appointment online to a friend? Why or why not?”
- After the completion of each step, how many visitors go on to the next step? Are you losing users between steps? What does this tell you about the design of the process as it exists today?
- After being discharged, can patients rate your portal’s “knowledge” of their diagnoses and the relevancy of the information to them?
Why does it matter?
At this point it may appear that we’re measuring satisfaction to simply have data to report. It’s much more than that. This feedback is critical in developing an effective eHealth strategy because:
- Many eHealth strategies are new, and your patients haven’t experienced them before
- We need rapid feedback in order to make changes quickly as new ideas are presented
- To truly look at patient satisfaction, you need a broad view that lets you review every aspect of their interaction with you
Without this data, your strategy is blind. It’s difficult to determine how or when to refine your strategy. And you have to depend on “experts” within your organization for insight that may or may not be accurate.
It’s important to get real insights into consumers’ perceptions of your eHealth strategy and take that information into account as you make decisions.
Questions to assess your Level 2 success:
In order to obtain measurable satisfaction, Level 2, in the eHealth Maturity Model, you should be able to answer “yes” to the following questions.
- Do we perform annual surveys of site/portal visitors and users to gauge their overall satisfaction with it?
__ Yes, we have actionable data from user surveys that measures their overall satisfaction with our Web site/portal.
__ No, we depend on our internal stakeholders or vendors’ opinions.
- Do we collect email addresses and send follow-up surveys to users that have completed (or failed to complete) a transaction to measure their satisfaction with the transaction?
__ Yes, we collect email addresses at most transaction points and use them for research.
__ No, we don’t have the ability to collect email addresses easily or we don’t use them for further research.
- Can our software automatically prompt users for their feedback immediately after completing a transaction (e.g. after every appointment request/scheduling attempt)?
__ Yes, we append surveys to major transactions and ask for feedback.
__ No, we rely on patients to send us a complaint via our contact form if they’re unhappy.
How to reach Level 2 success
If you’re coming up short on the assessment, your next question is likely about what your hospital can do to make sure the dollars you’re investing in your online initiatives are being used most effectively. Geonetric’s eHealth Strategy team is here to help. Give us a call at 1-800-589-1171, and we’ll work with you and your team to get you on the track to true eHealth success.
We’ll follow up in the coming weeks on the remaining levels of the eHealth Maturity Model. Until then, we’re open to your feedback on Geonetric’s approach to achieving online success. Let us know what you think.