STORY INLINE POST
The healthcare sector must prioritize patient satisfaction and experience above everything else around healthcare. However, in the Mexican healthcare system, patients experience inefficiency, ineffectiveness, and bad practices, which lead to frustration and lack of trust in healthcare providers.
Patient satisfaction and patient experience are not the same thing, so we are going to establish the differences. There are many definitions on the subject, but the Patient Experience Association of the United States makes it very clear that patient experience is not making patients happy with respect to quality. "Patient experience is about establishing safe care first, high quality care second, and third is getting to satisfaction."
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Clinic, one of the world's leading patient experience institutions, points out that patient experience is about doing the right thing for the person, putting them first and generating safe, high-quality care, satisfaction, and providing high-value care.
Although the issue is not new and medical services, both public and private, seek quality care, patients continually face problems and limitations from service providers.
The first problem patients have is the long waiting times for any medical issue: scheduling an appointment, entering the consultation room, performing laboratory studies, or receiving the results from the doctor. Patients often feel ignored and unimportant, which generates frustration and dissatisfaction. Many patients prefer not to keep their appointments, even if it means not having medical control of their illnesses, while others are resigned to being seen when the system decides.
The second problem is the lack of communication and coordination between healthcare professionals. In our previous article, we asked how we can unify patient information to provide timely follow-up at different points of care. We did not find an answer that would address this problem, but we can say that the lack of interoperability of health systems causes a lack of unified information.
As a result, the patient finds himself repeating his medical history and concerns with each physician he sees, or he receives contradictory information from different doctors. This creates problems in practice: from delays in treatment to misdiagnosis, which puts the patient's health at risk.
The third problem we identified is that patients feel more like a number than an individual. A one-size-fits-all approach to treatment can make patients feel that their needs and concerns are not considered. On the other hand, patients seen in private services may feel that they are just a number to the doctor, especially in hospital systems where there is no medical care if there is no money up front.
The three problems mentioned above are a compilation of discussions with other providers and with patients who visit a doctor. If you talk to anyone who has visited a doctor recently, whether public or private, you will hear at least one of these complaints.
What strikes us is that the public service satisfaction figures, which, as we said, are not the same as patient experience, show otherwise. Data from the Satisfaction Survey System, Adequate and Decent Treatment Annual Report, the most recent report available, reveal the following:
92.68% of the patients who visited the outpatient clinic said they were satisfied with the care they received.
90.44% of those who were hospitalized were also satisfied with the treatment and care received.
89.62% of those who visited an emergency department were satisfied with the service provided.
In general, 9 out of 10 patients said they were happy with the medical care received that year, which was the second year of the pandemic, and the Mexican health system assures that these data improve the quality of services, since the patient is listened to.
But if we contrast these data with the comments of patients after a consultation, we realize that health services are still far from generating a satisfactory experience for the patient.
The healthcare sector must prioritize improving the patient experience to truly serve and benefit the patients it is meant to help. This can be achieved by establishing effective communication and coordination among providers, reducing wait times, and considering the specific needs and concerns of each patient.
Technology is one of the tools with which the healthcare system could be helped to improve these situations. For example, an automated appointment system helps to keep track of and monitor patients, especially those who are under medical control and keep regular appointments.
Proper management of the electronic medical record would also reduce consultation and waiting time for the rest of the patients. Having all the patient's information in one place helps the physician to know the condition and to listen to the patient, instead of writing down on sheets of paper what the patient says for the10th time.
The digital prescription is another tool that doctors can rely on to keep track of the patient, and the patient can save time by avoiding long lines at the pharmacy or stop going to the doctor's office so many times to renew a controlled medication that he or she needs from time to time.
Digital innovations in medicine are within the reach of doctors and hospitals, but until they are properly harnessed or staff are trained to use them efficiently, patients will continue to have frustrating and inefficient experiences, even though government data reveal otherwise.