Confidence: Access is Key to Experience

Posted By: Elizabeth Woodcock Industry,

The sigh of relief. We have all experienced that incredible feeling of knowing that we are in the right hands. Perhaps it is when we are surrounded by family and friends during a time of crisis, or knowing our child has connected with a teacher who has broken down long-standing barriers to learning. As we reflect on these moments, we remember breathing a sigh of relief. While we may not understand what the future holds, we feel blessed to feel comforted in the present.

Patient experience is all about that feeling of confidence that you’re in the right hands, espouses Rick Evans, New York Presbyterian’s Chief Experience Officer, a keynote speaker at the 2023 Patient Access Collaborative’s Symposium. Describing experience in that context – being able to visualize that sigh of relief, that confidence that a patient holds when the exam table paper crinkles as they are seated – helps providers and employees truly understand how to create a positive experience, according to Evans.

Creating that moment of truth should be our goal, yet barriers to access often stand in the way. Consider the contrast of two simple tasks – buying an online product and scheduling a doctor’s appointment. (This is not to convey that these two duties conclude with the same outcome, but they are both tasks that we commonly perform.) One is frictionless, taking just minutes; the other is a remarkable journey of locating a contact point, calling during business hours, and explaining one’s need. Of course, it is often peppered with waits and delays, voicemails and transfers, and, frankly, a lot of frustration. What we may not recognize, however, is that fear and anxiety are also building. The confidence of being in the right hands, therefore, is eroded from the moment our patients begin their access journey.

How can health systems create that sigh of relief – not only when the exam table paper crinkles, but also when a patient initially communicates their need to us? We can start by visualizing the confidence when a patient logs onto our health system’s website, signs into the portal, or dials our phone number. Only then can we identify and eliminate the friction in the systems we’ve constructed for patients to access an appointment.

Let’s meet the patient when and where they need us; let’s create that incredible feeling of confidence when patients access us, not just after they have done so.