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The onslaught of COVID-19 shook the healthcare industry, and it was a grueling two years as patients filled hospitals and healthcare facilities. While the worse seems to be over, and the world is slowly imbibing the so-called “new normal,” the pandemic brought about a lot of lessons to nurses, doctors, and every healthcare provider on working towards the best patient experience.  

It’s worth noting that it was not only the healthcare industry that experienced the adverse effects of the pandemic; most of the population did too. People are now more conscious about keeping themselves healthy. 

This new mindfulness is a positive change that improves public health but poses a heightened challenge for healthcare professionals in promoting patient care. The pandemic has also taught healthcare professionals to keep the same energy of actively caring for their health while maintaining patient satisfaction and experience.  

With this in mind, let’s delve into ways the healthcare industry can contribute to this new frontier in attending to patients and ensuring they are at their peak health in this post-COVID era. The pandemic may soon end, but the commitment to health continues.  

What is the difference between patient experience and patient satisfaction?  

While the two are entirely different from each other, they are interlinked. Patient satisfaction concerns a patient’s perception of how healthcare services should have turned out. On the other hand, the patient experience is all about patient-centered care and their preferences, needs, values, and rights

When looking into the patient experience, one should consider all aspects of the experience from start to finish, from documentation of their medical records to the conversations and interactions they’ve had with nurses, doctors, and other healthcare personnel.  

Dr. Bobbie Berkowitz detailed in his paper how complicated the relationship is between patient experience and patient satisfaction. First, perceptions of the quality of healthcare services play a big role in determining patient experience. Cultural backgrounds, experience with past service providers, recovery levels, and pain during the process can also affect a patient’s experience.  

However, there are still factors that indicate that the service was effective: the patient’s adherence to doctor’s orders, clinical outcomes, and feedback from the patient’s loved ones can be considered in detecting if the patient experience is at its optimum.  

How did COVID-19 change patient expectations?  

Hand hygiene, diligence in taking vitamins, and physical distancing have become part of everyone’s daily lives because of the virus.  

There have also been noticeable expectations on how patients wish to be attended to by healthcare providers. Last May 2021, 59 percent of 1,000 surveyed individuals admitted that they have been interacting differently with their healthcare providers. A heightened concern, even to the point of apprehension about one’s health, can be linked to these changes in patient expectations:  

  • Better healthcare-provider interaction. While it was understandable that most hospitals were understaffed during the pandemic, patients wished for a better experience. Sixty-eight percent of study participants said they need improvement in how healthcare providers interact with their patients. 

In the same survey, 71 percent wished their healthcare experiences were as easy as online shopping, pushing forward the significance of digital communication in healthcare.  

The survey also mentioned that human interaction, even electronically, meant a lot to patient experience, particularly with Baby Boomers and Gen X. Sixty-two percent of respondents preferred to talk to someone on the phone, and 50 percent opted for actual human conversation.  

  • Access to digital communication. Because of the difficulty in reaching hospitals, it was a move for every healthcare organization to improve how to reach out to patients, even in far-flung places. The pandemic pushed companies to adopt digital technology by transforming everyday operations to handle the crisis despite logistical difficulties.  

One example is the rise of telehealth. In a global survey of 5,000 participants, 46 percent admitted to having used telehealth services at least once, and 84 percent of those respondents did so during the pandemic to avoid human interaction.  

  • Increased valuing of mental health for healthcare workers. To put it shortly: care for the caregivers. The nursing population was greatly maimed by mental health concerns, causing more than a third of surveyed nurses to admit to wanting to leave the profession by the end of 2022.  

The continuing and even growing nursing shortage calls for various suggestions to alleviate the situation, as the lack of workforce will affect the patient experience in more ways than one. The health government needs to place programs and interventions to protect healthcare workers’ mental health.   

The continuing and even growing nursing shortage calls for various suggestions to alleviate the situation, as the lack of workforce will affect the patient experience in more ways than one. The health government needs to place programs and interventions to protect healthcare workers’ mental health.   

How do you provide a good patient experience in this post-COVID era?  

Now that we know how COVID-19 changed patient experience expectations, let’s look into how health organizations can improve patient experience after the pandemic.  

Whether you’re a healthcare organization, a nurse, or any healthcare professional, it pays to bear in mind that points of view have changed since 2020. Patient perceptions have changed, and while demand for better healthcare is a given, providing the best experience for our patients is still the utmost goal. In this regard, while significant changes are in order, some little changes in how we communicate with patients can also be observed.  

  1. Healthcare providers should look into using telehealth. There is no stopping the use of telehealth, especially in the US. Telehealth consultations were at 840,000 in 2019 and 52.7 million in 2021. This is an excellent opportunity to invite current healthcare employees if they would like to delve into a new frontier in their careers. Furthermore, telehealth professionals can work from home with only a computer, a good internet connection, and skills in doing consultations in a virtual capacity.  

Telehealth strikes two birds with one stone. The preference to talk to a person rather than automation is met, and response rates from healthcare providers are effectively increased. It also opens up many career opportunities for nurses on the brink of leaving their careers. A new means to serve in the healthcare industry could be the refreshing start these nurses need.  

  1. Never underestimate the power of small talk. Whether you’re a doctor, a nurse, or even at a hospital’s front desk, engage patients in small talk. It fosters trust and builds rapport that can help establish a personal connection between the healthcare provider and the patient. This connection helps the patient feel at ease during their visit, hence improving their experience.  

Small talk aids in reducing patient anxiety because it pulls the attention away from their worries and makes the experience of being in a medical setting feel less intimidating. Small talk also helps healthcare providers collect the patient’s history and details on their lifestyle, which can aid in providing treatment that perfectly caters to their lives.  

  1. Give healthcare professionals more opportunities for rest. Increased salaries and better benefits sound good on paper, but heavy workloads and demanding schedules affect healthcare professionals mental health, affecting their output. A surefire way to mitigate this is to hire more healthcare professionals. 

An excellent example of this is the shortage of nurses in the US. A better patient-to-nurse ratio will do a lot in improving patient experience. Furthermore, nurses can take time off to recharge because of knowledge that someone else will be there to help the patients. Both physically and mentally, well-rested nurses can attend to patients with improved vigor and disposition.  

  1. Focusing on patient-centered care and involvement. Patient-centered care means putting the needs and preferences of the patient at the center of all decisions related to their care. This can help ensure that the patient’s unique needs and preferences are considered and respected. 

Promoting patient involvement is also a great way to improve the patient experience. Encouraging patients to participate actively in their care can help them feel more in control of their health and enhance their overall experience. 

Experience intuitive nursing recruitment through PRS Global.  

If you are an aspiring immigrant nurse or a healthcare organization in need of a revitalized nursing workforce, PRS Global is the staffing partner for you.   

With PRS Global, the support continues beyond hiring through monitoring for support when it comes to assimilating to a new working and living environment and preparing for legalities such as licensures and citizenship. PRS Global is ready to hire nurses in this post-COVID-19 era and train them to give only the best patient experience.  

Call PRS Global now!