IVF treatment is emotionally and physically stressful, financially demanding, and requires the patient to become “high information” in a very technical sub specialty of medicine. This reality is reflected in a common saying in the “TTC” (trying to conceive) community; “Infertility patients earn an honorary degree in reproduction”. Meaning IVF patients need to learn so much during the course of their treatment that they could practically earn a degree. IVF clinics often operate on the narrowest of margins, which means losing even one patient over poor customer service is one too many. Despite the stumbling blocks, IVF patient satisfaction can be increased!
The paradigm of “shared decision making” – a patient-centered, individualized approach to the informed consent process that involves discussion of the benefits and risks of available treatment options in the context of a patient’s values and priorities, is of paramount importance in the field of IVF, where the financial burdens often fall on the patients and the stakes are so high. In my experience, I have seen patients re-mortgage their house, prospective grandparents cash out retirement accounts, and infertility patients move jobs, states, or even countries to obtain IVF coverage!
The manner in which fertility doctors communicate with patients affects their confidence in the physician and in the final IVF treatment decisions made. Many studies have shown that healthcare consumers crave a retail-like patient experience, they are seeking “self-service” options, automated communication options, more payment options, a so-called ‘digital front door’, and mobile app capabilities that provide instant access to medical records and test results. Failure to deliver on these capabilities can push patients to change REIs, even when the clinical aspect of their infertility care is satisfactory. It is abundantly clear, IVF patients lose confidence in IVF clinics that do not use a digital product, particularly a mobile app, to manage the IVF consumer experience.
The ART Compass (ARTC) patient IVF app links all of the IVF cycles together on a single dashboard, and includes intake forms to collect demographic and medical histories, patient satisfaction surveys, and other types of surveys to promote patient education and shared decision making with REI physicians. Critically for IVF practices that implement ARTC, this shifts the focus onto the patient and promotes a culture of IVF service excellence.
We launched our patient survey tools just 6 months ago to fulfill the regulatory requirements of the IVF lab, but already our results are yielding interesting and actionable results for IVF clinics. Thus far, most survey respondents (> 78%) said that certain aspects of IVF treatment information provision should be improved. 83% of users stated that the quality of communication and the provision of treatment support were critically important in the context of shared decision making. We also identified negative experiences, which affected women’s perceptions of the whole IVF process; such as, being given unrealistic expectations of treatment success, feelings of vulnerability to the pressures of media and society, and a sense of being ‘unprepared’ for the major steps of IVF ‘decision-making’ process were reported. Most importantly, “insufficient information” or information that appeared to be ‘generic’ and not specific to the individual couple were identified most often from the patient satisfaction surveys completed. Certainly, transforming the IVF patient experience with a cutting-edge digital infertility software like ARTC aligns IVF practices with consumer needs and can boost revenue by attracting and retaining new patients, streamlining operations, and supporting clinical care.
IVF Labs that implement ART Compass for IVF data management report higher patient satisfaction and loyalty, that staff can see how their role impacts patient experience, IVF patients feel better informed for decision-making, and that it enables continuous improvement in their healthcare organization.