Touchpoints are specific moments of interaction between a patient and a healthcare provider that can significantly impact the patient experience and outcome of treatment.
Touchpoints can occur in various forms, such as physical interactions, in-person or virtual consultations, phone calls, emails, or online chats.
Common touchpoints on a patient journey and their significance in providing a positive patient experience:
Appointment scheduling is often the first touchpoint for most patients. This could be through a phone call, website, or mobile app. An easy-to-use scheduling system can improve patient satisfaction by reducing wait times, streamlining the process, and providing timely reminders. It is important to note that any scheduling system should pair the right patient with the right clinician in terms of clinical need. The 'first available' clinician may not always be the most clinically appropriate.
Registration can often be time-consuming, with a lot of paperwork and data entry required. Providing clear instructions and assistance in filling out forms can make the process smoother and less stressful for patients. Digitising this process can help as long as patients do not need to replicate the process on paper in the clinic as this inefficiency can lead to dissatisfaction and more importantly unconnected silos of important information.
Check-in is another critical touchpoint in a patient's journey. A streamlined check-in process can reduce wait times and minimise the time patients spend in the waiting area. Offering a comfortable and welcoming waiting area can also improve the overall patient experience with regular updates as to wait times. This time can also be used to capture valuable patient feed-back about their experience of their journey thus far.
Consultations provide opportunity to establish a rapport with patients, understand their concerns and provide personalised care. Active listening, empathy, and clear communication can go a long way in building trust and establishing a positive patient-provider relationship. Identifying clear expectations and what the patient's journey will look like going forwards goes a long way to reducing treatment anxiety.
Treatment and follow-up are crucial touchpoints on a patient journey. This includes providing clear instructions, answering questions, and providing ongoing support to patients. Regular follow-up appointments, phone calls, or emails can help patients feel supported and improve their overall satisfaction with the healthcare experience. Standardising as well as personalising post treatment follow-up is key.
Billing and payment can often be complex and confusing, leading to frustration for patients. Clear communication about costs and payment options, as well as prompt billing and payment processing, can help reduce stress and improve patient satisfaction.
Post-discharge information can be invaluable to identifying the touchpoints in a patient journey that can be improved. It is best practice to be pro-active in collecting this information, rather than passively expecting patients will tell you. As important, is to have mechanisms in place to contemporaneously react to any feedback received. Patients that take the time to report and feedback about how and where care can be improved should have a personalised response. Generic responses such as: 'thank you, your feedback means a great deal to us', means very little to the patient without a personalised response.
Patient journeys involve multiple touchpoints that impact the overall patient experience. By focusing on each touchpoint and finding ways to improve the totality of these touchpoints, healthcare providers can build lasting relationships with patients and promote positive health outcomes.