Close this search box.

Driving Better Patient Outcomes: A Collective Commitment of Healthcare Providers and MedTech Companies to Superior Customer Experiences

Written by Boyan Manov, Healthcare Insights Consultant

Having surgery can be a life-changing experience. It does not matter whether it is a routine, planned, or an emergency one; hearing that you need surgery will most probably make you feel uneasy both physically and mentally. And there is nothing so surprising about it. Studies have shown that people express a plethora of different fears when it comes to their upcoming surgery: fear of the unknown, worrying about post-operative complications, fear of the anesthetic, fear of death, and many others. Having experienced surgery first-hand, I am confident in saying that the patient’s journey encompasses an array of feelings impacting their emotional well-being, comfort, and procedure outcome. In addition, technicalities such as the administrative process, patient waiting times, follow-up meetings, procedure recommendations, and patient education further complicate the patient’s journey.

Regardless of the complexity, the most important goal of any surgical procedure is the patient’s ability to continue their normal life with an improved overall condition at the expense of minimal emotional toll. However, for that to be possible, both healthcare providers and MedTech companies must work together to improve the overall customer experience for both patients and surgeons alike. Understanding patients’ most pressing challenges and concerns will help reduce their emotional toll, and listening closely to surgeons’ technical needs will allow them to deliver better and more consistent procedures.

Addressing both patients’ and surgeons’ challenges alike will improve and transform the overall patient outcome as driven by better patient understanding, improved surgical efficiency, and patient education.

 The human aspect of surgical care

Surgical procedures are much more than the physical act of operating on a patient.

Recognizing that patients go through a storm of emotions and fears is crucial for providers. They must focus their efforts on fully understating patients’ needs, challenges, emotions, and concerns if they are to improve the overall outcome for the patient. Furthermore, they need to personalize their approach to reflect the fact that each patient is different and experiences a number of different fears and emotions. To achieve this holistic patient understanding, healthcare providers must facilitate the regular collection of patient feedback through designated patient experience (PX) programs with a priority on empathy, communication, and personalization. This will help providers improve trust, reduce patients’ fears and anxiety, and enhance the overall emotional well-being of patients, ultimately leading to improved surgical outcomes.

A practical way to approach this would be a quantitative quarterly feedback collection program targeting pre-surgery and post-surgery patients. In my experience, it is vital to address both patient audiences, as this will give providers a clear view of what patients expect and what improvement actions should be prioritized. Let’s dive in and explore how healthcare providers can improve three of the key human aspects of surgical care through a facilitated PX program:

Establishing trust and empathy

Empathy is our ability to understand and communicate an understanding of another person’s perceptions. We empathize with people who are suffering by trying to understand their feelings and help them through difficult periods in their personal lives, such as having surgery. Patients are often anxious and afraid when it comes to surgery, which is why surgeons should focus on building trust and properly addressing patients’ feelings. However, to do that surgeons need to have a better understanding of a patient’s expectations, feelings, fears, and most pressing needs.

Although patients can have unique conditions, most of them will have similar expectations from their surgeon and the procedure. This is where PX programs come into play. By leveraging PX programs, healthcare providers can provide surgeons with a better understanding of the overall patient’s feelings, fears, and expectations based on their condition, type of procedure, age, etc.

By taking the time to listen to patients, addressing their questions and concerns, and showing genuine empathy, surgeons can create a sense of emotional support and reassurance, leading to better patient outcomes. 

Effective communication

Empathy is only part of the formula. Fostering effective communication between surgeons and patients is also very important for achieving positive patient outcomes. Putting anxiety and fears aside, patients also have numerous questions regarding their upcoming procedures. These may be related to the length of the procedure, level of risk, postoperative care, complications, etc. Healthcare providers should strive to communicate in a way that patients can understand, using language that is free from technical jargon. This ensures that patients are well-informed about their condition, the surgical procedure, and the expected outcomes. Transparent and open communication promotes trust and empowers patients’ active participation in their own care decisions. This is why it is critical for providers to actively collect communication feedback through the PX program. Although most of the communication aspects are valid for most of the patients, PX programs are a powerful tool to find out how to improve communication between surgeons and patients further impacting the outcome of the procedure.

Personalized care

The third human aspect of surgical care is the importance of personalized care. Most of the medical conditions that require surgery are not unique as in most cases surgeons have already encountered and treated the patient’s condition. However, every patient is unique, and their surgical care should reflect this individuality regardless of their condition.

Let’s consider one of the most common surgical procedures – appendectomy. In their experience, general surgeons have conducted dozens of nearly identical appendectomies. Yet, some patients may have been predominantly interested in the technical aspect of the procedure, while others in the postoperative care, the involvement of their families, the impact on their postoperative lifestyle, etc.

Therefore, surgeons must be ready to address each patient individually, alongside their challenges, fears, and questions. By gathering feedback on factors such as the patient’s, lifestyle, severity of existing conditions, personal goals, etc., healthcare providers can help surgeons create a more customized approach that optimizes the surgical outcome and enhances patient satisfaction.

The technical aspect of surgical care

The human aspect undoubtedly plays a big role in the patient journey and healthcare providers have clear evidence of the importance of regular patient feedback collection. However, the technical aspect of surgical care is equally important. Equipment quality, durability, functionality, and the surgeon’s training and overall abilities all play a crucial role in the successful execution of the procedure and in delivering improved patient outcomes. The healthcare providers, however, can only do much when it comes to technicalities, as most of the responsibility falls on the MedTech companies developing and supplying the surgical devices and the respective training.

Understanding surgeons’ needs when it comes to equipment and training is directly linked to the efficiency of the surgery team and ultimately to patient outcomes. Let’s say a MedTech company is developing a new robotic surgery device. Its design, features, capabilities, and technical durability are all crucial for the efficiency of the surgical team. Imagine what would happen if the vendor failed to consider the importance of system downtime intra-surgery and the device goes down during a procedure. Even if the downtime is just a couple of seconds long it will have a negative impact on the team’s focus, increasing the risk of error and the length of the procedure.

To prevent such situations, MedTech companies should utilize their Customer Experience program by focusing on the aspects of equipment quality, downtime, integration, training, support, etc.

Now let’s dive in and explore some of the key technical aspects that MedTech companies can improve through a facilitated CX program:

Improved surgical team efficiency

Surgery is not a one-man show, as surgeons, anesthesiologists, OR nurses, and physicians all play a key role in the procedure. MedTech companies are therefore faced with a major set of responsibilities – to foster stronger relationships between surgeons and their teams, ensure smoother surgical procedures, increase efficiency, and improve patient outcomes. To make this happen, it is crucial for vendors to understand the OR workflow, key challenges, and staff expectations.

This is why I always advise my clients to design their CX program with a focus on intra-team collaboration. The most important thing to consider here is the participation of the entire OR staff. In my experience, hearing from everybody involved is the only way to have a thorough understanding of the OR workflow and challenges. This means that surgeons, nurses, physicians, and anesthesiologists must be given the opportunity to share their challenges, expectations, and needs.
MedTech companies can only then improve the overall customer experience resulting in a streamlined workflow, reduced procedure lengths, and improved patient outcomes.

Reduced patient waiting times and speed of procedure 

Patient waiting times and the speed of surgical procedures are a growing concern in the healthcare domain. It is estimated that the number of surgical procedures will continue to grow by 6% CAGR between 2021 and 2028, which will put further pressure on both providers and vendors to reduce waiting times and improve procedure speed.

So far there are multiple ways providers have tried to improve these KPIs, some of which include: the separation of the flow of day surgery from that of ordinary surgery, increasing available operating time by reorganizing the staff, and allocation of operating sessions flexibility in proportion to the waiting list. However, equipment manufacturers should also actively invest in this area by working closely with surgeons and collecting workflow-related feedback. This will help the MedTech sector better understand pressing workflow challenges and design new equipment focused on improving the overall surgeon workflow and increasing the provider’s OR capacity while reducing waiting times.

(Source: Fact.MR)

Improved patient education

Although the technical and human aspects of surgery are often very different, there are areas where they overlap significantly. As I discussed earlier, patients have a lot of different questions about their upcoming procedures, and surgeons must be ready to answer these and provide concrete examples and as much detail as possible. This may sound like something that is only the surgeons’ responsibility, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. MedTech companies are equally responsible for training surgeons and for ensuring that surgeons themselves can then transmit that procedure-related knowledge to patients in a jargon-free way. Therefore, when designing my client’s CX programs I also focus on including the so-called “Training and Education” module. The focus of this module is to reach out to surgeons and physicians and better understand what patients expect when it comes to learning about their procedures. We also study the most preferable learning channels for patients.

Understanding what patients are interested in and their preference for obtaining the demanded information is crucial for MedTech companies. These insights will provide them with the opportunity to create education and training programs that will benefit both the surgeon and the patients, leading to improved outcomes.

In the surgical domain, customer experience holds tremendous significance for both patients and surgeons. Prioritizing customer experience enhances patient satisfaction, engagement, and empowerment. By investing in clear communication, personalized care, and continuous improvement, healthcare providers and MedTech companies can create a patient-centric environment that not only leads to improved surgical outcomes but also positively impacts the overall well-being of patients. The recognition of the human aspect of surgical care and the implementation of customer experience strategies will undoubtedly shape the future of surgical procedures, bringing us closer to a healthcare system that places patients at the center of their own surgical journey.

Table of Contents

Related posts