How Transportation Can Improve Patient Experience Scores at Hospitals

Vraj Vyas
patient experience

Regardless of what hospital you set foot into and no matter which doctors you see, most patients tend to have a feeling of uneasiness settling in their stomach as they seek medical care. After all, being vulnerable about your body, feelings, and thoughts with someone else in a new environment is bound to feel like a risk. One of the best ways to lessen that feeling of risk is to help patients feel comfortable and at home in places of care while they are there. Therefore, hospitals need to uphold a reputation that not only provides excellent medical care, but also one that provides a secure and stress-free patient experience.

So what exactly is Patient Experience? Patient Experience encompasses all interactions patients have from start to finish in a patient’s journey. This includes interactions with hospital personnel, the manner in which doctors and nurses relay information, and how the hospital executes its processes. For instance, a long wait period can lead to disgruntled patients, which can cause people to feel frustrated or unwelcome.

From the minute patients decide to step into the hospital to the moment they have been discharged, every component affects their mindset and their experience.

Having an experience with few to no disturbances makes getting treatment less stressful, thereby creating a favorable reputation for the hospital.

But how is the quality of Patient Experience determined and measured? In 2002, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services set out to partner with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to develop the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey.

HCAHPS was the first national standardized survey which measured publicly patient’s experiences with health care systems.

Through multiple endorsements, HCAHPS became an incredibly valuable survey for hospitals both internally and externally. The survey, which consists of 27 questions, asks discharged patients about their hospital experience. HCAHPS measures critical points of the patient’s experience corresponding to communication with hospital staff, cleanliness of hospital, and discharge information.

More than ever, health systems are moving to value-based care models. Value-Based Care is a possible alternative for fee-for-service reimbursement and places a huge emphasis on Patient Experience.

The underlying idea behind Value-Based Care is attempting to focus on quality over quantity of care.

The fee-for-service reimbursement endorsed the number of care services, whereas Value-Based Care encourages and rewards hospitals that focus on the quality of the patient’s care. This includes providing better care for patients, improving hospital management and workflow processes, and reducing the costs of healthcare. Transportation is one of the largest opportunities for Value-Based Care models to step up their overall quality of care.

Processes within the hospital are cyclical in nature and have massive domino effects. If one piece breaks, the rest are affected too. The start of these processes really begins when the patient goes to the hospital. The first thing to consider would be transportation, or “how am I getting there?” If transportation delays the patient or causes him/her any disruption, the rest of the processes delay and typically the attitude towards the overall experience is one that is more frustrated or worrisome. Lack of quality, efficient transportation could cause the patient to be late or miss an appointment, which would lead to the classic long waiting room trouble. Some of this overcrowding in waiting rooms can result in hospital staff not being able to properly take the time out for each patient which consequently leads to patients giving low Patient Experience scores.

The cycle can also be looked at in the reverse perspective which focuses on discharges. If transportation fails to deliver in a timely, functional way, patients would not be able to be discharged, which would lead them to occupy beds. This takes away the opportunity for a new patient to use that bed space, delaying their care. The issue of transportation is at large because the system is broken. The wait times for transportation are not just 1 or 2 hours, they could be days upon days.

What we should be doing is trying to fix the problem at its root. Transportation. 

Creating a unified, systematic transportation process allows the hospital and its patients to focus on care. Simplified, reliable, comprehensive transportation solutions for health systems can significantly reduce the likelihood of re-admissions and delay of care. We also have seen how better coordination for non-emergency medical transportation has significantly lowered patient no-show rates all the way down to 4%.

Additionally, the facility can save time and money which they can tailor towards more care related needs. Facilities report cost reductions of 40% when moving from taxi voucher programs to RoundTrip and report 90% improved efficiency with booking rides when booking with us.

Facility operations at hospitals and health systems are nothing short of busy. Transportation solutions need to be comprehensive yet simple.

A comprehensive medical transportation booking system must offer all levels of transport (rideshare, medical sedan, wheelchair van, stretcher van, ALS/BLS ambulance) as well as work with all different types of payors.

As we move swiftly towards the future of healthcare, we as a tech community need to leverage information, data, and engineering to remove as many unnecessary obstacles for patients who deserve to get to the care they need and have the absolute best experience as they do.