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Q&A: Improving the patient experience without stressing providers

Patient experience is a popular buzzword for healthcare, but health systems probably aren’t investing enough in consumer preferences, said Dr. Maulik Majmudar, chief medical officer and cofounder of Biofourmis

“If you look at what patients are used to in the real world in other parts of their lives around banking or hotel booking or airlines or grocery shopping — like everything in life — it’s just not the same experience they have with healthcare, right?” he said.

Biofourmis, which offers AI-enabled remote patient monitoring, also recently expanded into care delivery. Ahead of ViVE, Majmudar sat down with MobiHealthNews to discuss why healthcare struggles to invest in the consumer experience and how health systems can improve without overburdening already stressed providers. 

MobiHealthNews: Why do you think health systems might struggle to address consumer and patient experience concerns?

Maulik Majmudar: I think there’s a few factors that come to mind. Part of it is I’m sure they all recognize the importance of consumer experience and patient experience to drive better brand loyalty or better market penetration or growth. But, in most health systems, the actual execution of that is very distributed, right? There’s a lot of different decision makers and a lot of different people involved in how decisions get made and how investments get made. It is very complex, I think organizationally and structurally, and it’s a little bit difficult to act on some of those ideas. 

Second, culturally, it is hard to get buy-in from every different aspect of the healthcare system. To know of all the priorities a healthcare system has, a hospital has, how does one prioritize patient experience when they’re also worried about quality and cost and labor shortages and bed capacity and all these other things they’re worried about? 

The third is, I’m sure, the value equation. How does one actually monetize or think about the monetary value of that consumer experience? It’s different if you’re in the hotel industry, and your entire business revolves around consumer loyalty and consumer experience. In healthcare, patients usually don’t make choices based on just an experience. It’s the brand and the clinical care affiliated with it. So I think it’s a different equation, a complex equation to really understand the ROI, the return on investment, for consumer preferences. I think it’s not as black and white as one would think. So that’s probably part of the reason. People who are in charge of patient experience can’t always convince their C-suites to prioritize it over all the other things they’re worried about.

MHN: What kind of actionable information do you think that health systems have regarding the patient experience to begin with? And what else do you think that they might need to actually make any inroads in this area?

Majmudar: They do have data though, right? If you think about the traditional patient experience surveys, they’re required by Leapfrog or required by some of the quality measures from CMS and other places. There are patient surveys for inpatient, there’s patient surveys for outpatient care in CG-CAHPS and HCAHPS. There’s all these different tools people are using to capture patient experiences. 

So I think there’s probably more than enough data at this point to know that patients are voting with their feet and their experiences do matter. They do have choices. They do shop around for services. But the type of patients that have that experience is, I think, variable. 

So for example, there are different patient populations who prioritize patient experience differently. If you’ve got a 65-year-old female with multiple chronic conditions who has had multiple procedures in a facility, that patient is going to be extremely tied to the local health system, right? The  records are there, the doctors are there, she knows those physicians well. There’s a long history of care, and it’s going to be very challenging for her to switch care to a new provider. 

You take a 45-year-old patient, a male with really no past medical history, who is going in for a first-time interaction for a primary care visit. That patient has a lot of choices. They may choose direct primary care, they may choose concierge care, they could choose a telemedicine virtual care, or the local hospital’s clinic. They have lots and lots of choices. So hospitals have to figure out which patient population they are trying to cater to, and how they are prioritizing those patient segments, to then decide how they want to make investments into driving better experiences.

MHN: Provider burnout and staff shortages became an even more urgent topic since the pandemic. How do you kind of manage consumer experience while also not further burdening the clinical staff?

Majmudar: Unless you have a satisfied and happy clinical care team, how could they do their best job to serve their patients? I think they’re interrelated, but I don’t think patient experience necessarily means a worse provider burden. I think you could have a phenomenal patient experience, but still have satisfied providers if you’re given the right tools and technologies or support to do the jobs well.

If somebody said patient experience means you can see the patient within 24 hours and your clinic’s going to be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., maybe that adds to provider burden. But if you said you have tools to automate documentation or billing or coding, or you have a medical scribe to assist with documentation, or you have a virtual clinical team, as opposed to a physical brick-and-mortar office clinic team, and those are different teams that can take on the burden of seeing patients. I think there’s ways to design care delivery and care models that don’t overburden the clinical staff and still provide convenience and access and a better experience for patients and consumers.

Joe Drygas and Randy Bush will offer more detail during the HIMSS23 session “The 5G Advantage: Advanced Connectivity for Life Sciences and Healthcare.” It is scheduled for Friday, April 21 at 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. CT at the South Building, Level 1, room S105 C.

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