When a person seeking clinical care enters a medical campus, they experience an identity shift. They are no longer recognized by name, personality, and other distinguishing features. Instead, they are a patient: a member of a group seeking care for an illness, injury, or disease.
It’s this identity shift that marks the beginning of the patient experience; an isolating transition that, if mismanaged, can become fraught with stress, anxiety, and dread.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Creating an environment of care from patients’ very first moments on campus can diffuse negative feelings, build rapport and loyalty, and provide a positive framework for the rest of the patient journey.
To meet this end, healthcare providers must carefully and consciously manage the physical space within which the identify shift occurs and patients spend their first moments in the hands of their healthcare provider.
Impark HEALTH has coined this space the “Patient Transition Zone”The physical space in which a member of the public transitions into a patient (the entry experience) or a patient transitions into a member of the public (the exit experience).
Identifying Patient Transition Zones
As patient transportation methods diversify and campuses succumb to sprawl, many healthcare providers will be tasked with identifying multiple patient transition zones on-campus. The advent of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), in particular, has spurred forward-thinking healthcare institutions to seek ways of nurturing and rejuvenating these zones to reflect their importance as caregiving spaces.
After all, pedestrians, drivers, cyclists, ride-hailers, and public transport passengers all transition into patients in different ways and at different times — though each becoming patients long before reaching a building entrance.
Broadly, Impark HEALTH identifies a patient transition zone as a publicly accessible area of a campus wherein patients depart from vehicles. Pedestrians are, naturally, exceptions to this rule; their patient experience begins as soon as they cross the campus threshold.
By identifying, understanding, and consciously managing these on-campus patient transition zones, healthcare providers can develop strategies to start the patient experience positively, in turn promoting patient loyalty and improving HCAHPS scores.
To begin the journey toward mindful patient transition zone management, healthcare providers should ruminate on the following three questions:
- Does this space make a good first and last impression?
- Does this space alleviate patient anxiety?
- Does this space respect and affirm patient autonomy?