The Coronavirus has upended patient experience (PX) as we know it, infusing the world of hospitals and healthcare brands with just as much (if not more) uncertainty than that currently facing restaurants, brick-and-mortar storefronts, and other types of businesses. More specifically, the pandemic has altered patients’ perceptions of everything about hospitals, including how they move through the facility and interact with its employees.
Today, we’re going to quickly review how exactly COVID-19 has impacted patients’ hospital perceptions. We’ll also review what healthcare brands can do to accommodate and overcome the challenges associated with these changes, especially as the virus’s spread continues to accelerate.
Keeping Things Clean
COVID-19 has put patients on high alert when it comes to hospital and healthcare facility cleanliness. Hospital hygiene has always been important to most patients, of course (especially those who were already anxious about doctors’ appointments), but even healthcare customers who are usually more relaxed are now closely scrutinizing hospitals’ adherence to cleanliness guidelines. How well healthcare brands stick to those guidelines may very well determine whether they make it out the other side of this crisis.
Because of this acute awareness, hospitals and clinics must not only adhere to the most stringent cleanliness guidelines and CDC guidance, but also make that dedication visible for all patients to see. This means that hospital staff must continually (and visually) reassure patience that hygiene is being taken seriously. Signage, protocol reminders, and other visual cues are vital to maintaining patients’ trust in their healthcare experience and that their facility is ensuring safety in the age of COVID.
Beyond Clean Surfaces
Healthcare customers’ heightened scrutiny of cleanliness goes beyond wiping down counters and doorknobs (though that’s certainly important as well). COVID-19 concerns run much deeper than that—many patients are now paying much greater attention to their every physical move in a hospital. Whether it’s entering the facility, moving through it toward a doctor’s office, or picking up a prescription, healthcare customers are paying close attention to how their movements within hospitals may present any sort of COVID-19 risk.
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities must respond to this acute concern for physical wellbeing the same way they do concerns over cleanliness: aggressive visual cues. As I mentioned earlier, signage and other visual reminders are a huge help here, but the next step is for staff to physically carry out cleanliness measures in front of customers. This approach has been adopted by every business from restaurants to grocery stores over the course of the pandemic, and it’s a proven tactic for reassuring customers that your healthcare brand is taking COVID-19 seriously.
One of the biggest challenges with measures like these is making sure that employees are continuously carrying them out. Many of these strategies, especially carrying out facility hygiene in front of employees, can’t just be set and forgotten. Hospitals must take care to keep these strategies going and keep them highly visible. Perhaps more importantly, they must use PX listening programs to tune into their customers’ safety concerns and how those concerns evolve over time. This tactic empowers hospitals to continuously demonstrate their commitment to patient safety, achieve meaningful improvement, and be in a much stronger position than the competition when this pandemic finally ends.
Click here to read my full Point of View article on how COVID-19 has forever changed patient experience. I take a deeper dive into the pandemic’s full effects on patient experience and how healthcare brands can respond in these unprecedented times.