March 02, 2016 — Blog Post
Improving patient satisfaction and outcomes with automated empathy
Empathy is increasingly on the minds of healthcare providers. Research revealed that healthcare organizations that show a commitment to compassion enjoy a better bottom line as well as increased patient and caregiver satisfaction, and studies show physician empathy increases patient satisfaction and outcomes.
But empathy is hard to exhibit when pressed for time in the often chaotic healthcare environment. So, providers are turning to “automated empathy” as a way to continue to build the physician-patient relationship outside of the hospital’s four walls—and keep them out of the emergency room—in a cost-efficient and scalable way. Even the Cleveland Clinic Patient Experience Summit is centered on this concept with this year’s theme, “Caring Transformed: Anytime. Anywhere.”
So, to automate empathy, some healthcare organizations are using empathic emails to follow up with people post-discharge and help them stick to their treatment and recovery routines. For some people, emails might work really well, especially if they have the ability to easily check their email daily. But there are some caveats—if a person gets a lot of emails, it would be easy for the one from their provider to get lost. Then there is each individual’s reading level to take into consideration. What if they have a low reading level, or process information better when it is spoken to them?
To mitigate against these risks, other healthcare organizations are using interactive voice response (IVR) calls as another way to automate empathy. The calls can be deployed similarly to email, but instead use timely and tailored messages delivered in an understanding, empathic voice to communicate with people about their treatment and recovery regimens. This way, people with low reading levels don’t have to overcome the barrier of reading information to understand their post-discharge instructions—the calls are designed to address demographic and cultural barriers (for example, people who speak Spanish can receive calls in that language).
Empathy is important in post-discharge communication, but the most important thing about such communication is helping people take action and sustain healthy behaviors to keep them out of the hospital during care transitions. And the data show that IVR calls work. Here’s how we know:
Emmi partnered with 27 hospitals to help them extend their outreach and engage people post-discharge. We made more than 77,000 IVR calls to target patient populations, reaching 72% of patients. Data showed 82% of engaged patients interacted with more than half of the calls. Of those reached:
- 54% said the calls gave them new or helpful information
- 86% said they were better prepared to manage their health
- 69% said they were more comfortable calling their provider
- 81% said the calls improved their opinion of their provider
Get a closer look at how IVR calls drive behavior change with this case study.
- Empathy is increasingly important, but also difficult to achieve and scale system-wide, especially with limited time and resources.
- Technology can help automate empathy via email and telephone.
- Data show that IVR calls to people post-discharge do keep people engaged in their healthcare and empower them to manage their own health while also improving their opinion of their provider.