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Blog | Apr 26, 2023

How to Improve Patient Experience & Satisfaction

By agilon health staff

In today’s healthcare landscape, providing exceptional experiences for patients is more important than ever. As the industry shifts from fee-for-service toward a value-based care model, agilon health’s mission is to reimagine the patient experience. agilon’s provider partners are increasingly focused on treating patients and ensuring that their experience is positive from before they walk into the facility or start their virtual appointment to after they see their treating clinician. A positive patient experience improves outcomes, increases patient loyalty, and leads to lower health care costs.

In this post, we’ll explore the importance of patient experience as it impacts seniors in the value-based care model and discuss agilon’s strategies to set and manage patient expectations to improve patient experience and patient satisfaction.

Why Measuring and Improving Patient Experience Is Important

Patient experience metrics are an integral component of quality, and measuring and improving patient experience are vital. Healthcare professionals utilize various tools to measure patient experiences, such as surveys, focus groups, and direct patient feedback.

Key areas that are assessed include:

  • Communication with healthcare providers
  • Ease of accessing care
  • Timeliness of care
  • Respect from staff
  • Coordination of care

To improve patient experience, the most important element is the provider-patient relationship. A strong relationship built on trust, compassion, and effective communication enhances the patient experience. Providers who listen carefully to their patients, understand their concerns, explain things in a way the patient can understand, and involve them in decision-making are more likely to provide care that meets patients’ needs and expectations. Additionally, providers who prioritize continuity of care through effective care coordination with specialists help to ensure patients receive consistent, high-quality care across the healthcare continuum.

Patient Experience Surveys as an Experience Measurement Tool

Patient experience surveys are a powerful tool for healthcare providers to gather feedback directly from patients. In 2022, agilon received nearly 100,000 patient responses with over 20,000 verbatim patient comments. Hearing the voices of our patients in these responses helps agilon partners celebrate what is working well to reduce burnout and identify areas of improvement to meet patient expectations and improve outcomes. Patients provide feedback on their quality of medical care, but more so, on their quality of customer service experience.

Accountable Care Organization- Realizing Equity, Access, and Community Health Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (ACO-REACH-CAHPS) and Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (MA and PDP CAHPS) are standardized surveys from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that measure the experiences of Medicare beneficiaries.

agilon leverages CAHPS surveys by analyzing the data collected and transparently sharing the data with healthcare providers so they can understand how patients perceive their care. Examples of patient experience goals include improving outcomes of individual senior patients who need follow-up care and enhancing the overall health care experience to increase patient satisfaction of the communities we serve. Most importantly, together with healthcare providers, we act on the feedback to achieve these goals and continuously improve the patient experience.

In 2022, the nearly 100,000 responses to agilon’s patient experience survey represented almost a 50% response rate. Patients were asked a variety of questions, including how well their providers communicate, if providers answer medical questions in a timely fashion, if they experienced barriers to care, if they feel they received quality care, and the Net Promoter Score (NPS) question – if they would recommend agilon partners to family and friends.

Highlights from agilon’s 2022 patient survey include:

  • 84% of patients reported having no barriers to seeing their provider
  • 90% of patients were satisfied with the ability to access their providers
  • 95% of patients reported receiving high-quality care
  • 96% of patient seek their primary care physician’s guidance for specialty care

And, most notably, 84% of patients would recommend an agilon partner to family and friends. This is impressive, as the industry standard for medical groups is 82%!

Four Ways to Improve Patient Experience

1. Measuring Balance vs. Outcomes

Improving patient experience is an intuitive approach to better outcomes. Patients who feel comfortable with their healthcare providers and the care they receive are more likely to follow treatment plans and recommendations for a healthier lifestyle.

Using patient experience as a balance measure can help healthcare organizations identify potential negative impacts when making changes to processes or care delivery. For example, if a medical group seeks to reduce wait times in the reception area, the reduction becomes the outcome measure. However, if the new process leads to rushed consultations or missed diagnoses, then the wait time reduction may negatively impact patient experience, which is the balance measure. By using patient experience as a balance measure, healthcare organizations can ensure that any changes made do not adversely affect the quality of care and quality of service provided to patients.

2. Total Care by Care Teams

The most effective patient experience surveys capture the culture, or the sum of all interactions that influence the perceptions of the total care experience rather than focusing on only individual care interactions. By understanding the effectiveness of the whole care team, healthcare organizations can gain a more accurate picture of the patient experience.

In the agilon model, care teams share the responsibility for patient health, allowing primary care physicians to concentrate on providing comprehensive care, leaving the rest to agilon to provide administrative support. This approach leads to better patient outcomes and enables doctors and advanced practice professionals to offer more personalized care to their patients.

It is essential to consider multiple dimensions of care when measuring patient experience rather than limiting it to a single factor. By doing so, healthcare providers can consider the interactions that most strongly affect patient experiences and outcomes. Ultimately, capturing data as a whole and evaluating the effectiveness of the entire care team can provide a more comprehensive understanding of the patient experience, leading to improved outcomes and greater patient satisfaction.

3. Technology: Data & Analytics

To improve patient experience, healthcare systems must not simply collect patient experience data but also understand, use, and act on it. Healthcare analytics, including the use of an enterprise data warehouse (EDW) and patient experience application technology, can help identify meaningful relationships between patient experience, clinical outcomes, and employee satisfaction.

Patient experience data can inform more than just the patient experience or a single episode of care; it tells a much bigger story. agilon’s technological applications analyze patient experience data by provider, location, patient demographics, comment category, and even sentiment. The data also provides multiple, robust views into the rich data, from market performance score summaries and percentile rankings for executive leaders to granular office performance for individual practice managers and physician leaders to feel empowered to drive change.

Integrating patient experience and healthcare data into an EDW enables widespread data sharing across clinical applications. Analytics systems and tools make it easy to access and understand patient satisfaction data as it relates to overall care delivery, and they integrate data into the daily workflow, enabling its use as a balance measure. By leveraging patient satisfaction data in this way, healthcare systems can make data-driven decisions to improve patient experience and outcomes. These insights enable agilon to impact partner systems and processes by inspiring employee behavior change, physician and provider engagement, timely service recovery, and patient loyalty.

4.  Focus on What Matters Most to Seniors

According to agilon partners’ 2022 patient experience survey feedback, what matters most to seniors is improving their quality of service when it comes to access to care by decreasing wait times and increasing access to information and education to better navigate their care.

agilon provides its physician partners with innovative educational campaigns and initiatives to provide patients with important information to seamlessly manage their care, such as scheduling in-person or virtual appointments, optimizing time in the reception area and exam room, timely prescription refills, timely test results, and empowering them to make informed decisions, engage in shared decision-making, and become active participants in their plan of care.

Improving the Patient Experience in the Value-Based Care Model

Partnering with agilon helps healthcare providers strengthen their relationships with patients and provide coordinated care that focuses on patients’ total well-being, from early interventions to treatment. At agilon health, we partner with community-based physician groups and eliminate obstacles through the expertise of our people, our unified platform, our processes—which are seamlessly integrated with the practice—and our capital. We empower primary care physicians to deliver the best patient care while managing costs and growing their practice.

Our model rewards engaging with patients and anticipating their needs, with no incentives for providers to focus on fees, tests, and appointment volumes. Patients who might otherwise find themselves navigating a complex, fractured system on their own instead get coordinated care—led by the doctor they know, empowered by agilon support. And the numbers (and patients’ voices) back it up, with patients loving their relationships with their healthcare teams, spending more time in wellness visits and less time in the hospital.

Learn more about how agilon’s full-risk value-based care model improves the patient experience.

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