Patient Experience in 2016 – How do we move forward?

The Waiting Room - Christina WelshBlog post by Colin Hung

A few week ago I had the opportunity to attend the Beryl Institute’s Patient Experience Conference #PX2016 as part of the Stericycle Communications Solutions vendor team. It was my second time at this wonderful event hosted by Jason A Wolf @jasonawolf and his amazing group.

If you are involved at all in a patient-facing role, I would highly recommend attending this annual event. You will be inspired, encouraged and energized about improving the patient experience at your organization. It’s one of the few conferences where it is common to hear the words “empathy”, “patient-centered”, “family input” and “mindfulness”.

This was the first time I attended the conference as a vendor and it was the first time I really took notice of the types of companies in attendance. There were companies offering care coordination software, hardware solutions for rounding, survey providers, consultants, valet parking companies, gown makers and even two companies offering “digital windows”. A full list of companies is available here.

For me, this eclectic mix of vendors represents the broad and varied approach that healthcare organizations are taking to improving patient experience. No single vendor (including the company I work for) is the proverbial “silver bullet”. Many healthcare organizations are having to take a multi-pronged approach like El Camino Hospital documented in a recent post.

At El Camino Hospital, we believe a combination of great communication, leadership, disciplined measurement and analysis and commitment to technology innovation are the formula for improving patient engagement and care. One of the biggest steps we have taken toward this effort is leadership rounding using mobile technology. It is a strategy designed to increase meaningful connection with patients and visitors, free up time at the bedside for nurses, reinforce other initiatives through intentional interviewing and capture the voice of our patients

It is the last sentence in the quote above that I’m most intrigued with. Patient experience, in my opinion, is not about the accoutrements of care, like valet parking or nice views via digital windows. Instead, I believe that improving patient experience is all about the actual care provided and how connected patients feel to their care providers. It’s more about communication, access, humanity, empathy and most importantly better care. Technologies and solutions that enable these things are the ones healthcare organizations should be investing in.

With Wolf and Corder at PX2016#hcldr friend and tweetchat guest, Richard Corder, would argue that organizations need to focus more on fixing their culture of care than on building more “welcoming” lobbies. Energy needs to be put on how we treat patients, both in the clinical sense as well as in the emotional sense. A comfortable bed doesn’t make up for a nurse who is so harried they can only spend a minute with each patient and who is so stressed they have lost empathy for those in their care. Nor does the latest in-room entertainment system make up for a toxic culture where no one feels comfortable reporting potential patient safety issues. Get your culture right and everything else becomes easier.

On the surface, providing a positive patient experience seems straightforward and doesn’t require significant investments in technology. Just ask Anna Reisman MD, who wrote the following checklist in a KevinMD.com post

  • Treat the patient like a family member, with dignity and respect
  • Be gentle and honest
  • Don’t rush
  • Make them comfortable
  • Acknowledge their fear
  • Don’t sit behind a desk
  • Encourage them to ask questions
  • Grade yourself by how you feel when you leave the room. If you leave with a smile, give yourself an A

In the current pressured environment, how can healthcare organizations be expected to focus on patient experience? Should they not be spending more energy on providing patients access to their data? Securing that data against cyber-attacks? Ensuring that their staff are well taken care of so that we reduce burn-out? Or is this simply a time when healthcare should be focusing on different aspects of patient experience? Maybe it’s time we start focusing on smaller, less grandiose, patient experience initiatives.

Join the #hcldr community on Tuesday April 26th at 8:30pm EDT (for your local time click here) where we will discuss the state of patient experience in 2016:

  • T1 Is patient experience #ptexp still important? Have access to patient records, cost of care & other challenges superseded it?
  • T2 Is there an aspect of patient experience that should be de-emphasized/get less attention?
  • T3 Is there an aspect of patient experience that should get more attention, more funding from healthcare orgs?
  • T4 What can physicians/nurses/administrators do to improve patient experience? What can patients do?

Resources

“Why is patient experience standing still?”, Connected Health UK, April 19 2016, http://www.connecthealth.co.uk/blog/why-is-patient-experience-standing-still/, accessed April 23 2016

“Patient Experience Is Increasingly Important”, Paul Barr, Hosptials & Health Networks, March 31 2016, http://www.hhnmag.com/articles/7083-patient-experience-is-increasingly-important, accessed April 23 2016

“Hospitals need a checklist for the patient experience”, Anna Reisman MD, KevinMD.com, January 11 2016, http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2016/01/hospitals-need-checklist-patient-experience.htm, accessed April 23 2016

“In patient experience, all voices are valuable”, Jason A Wolf, Fierce Healthcare, February 26 2016, http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/patient-experience-all-voices-are-valuable/2016-02-26, accessed April 23 2016

“The Value of Successful Patient Experiences”, RJ Salus, Healthcare Executive Insight, December 21 2015, http://healthcare-executive-insight.advanceweb.com/Features/Articles/The-Value-of-Successful-Patient-Experiences.aspx, accessed April 23 2016

“Hospital parking: healthcare’s controversial cost”, Vanessa Milne, Andrew Laupacis, Mike Tierney, HealthyDebate, August 14 2014, http://healthydebate.ca/2014/08/topic/hospital-parking-fees, accessed April 23 2016

“Achieving an Exceptional Patient and Family Experience of InPatient Hospital Care”, Balik B et al, IHI Innovation Series White Paper, 2011, http://www.ihi.org/resources/Pages/IHIWhitePapers/AchievingExceptionalPatientFamilyExperienceInpatientHospitalCareWhitePaper.aspx, accessed April 23 2016

“How nurses and their work environment affect patient experiences of the quality of care: a qualitative study”, Renate AMM Kieft et al, BMC Health Services Research, June 13 2014, http://bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6963-14-249, accessed April 23 2016

Image Credit

The Waiting Room – Christina Welsh https://flic.kr/p/aWQHMR

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