Patient Experience in 2017

Blog post by Colin Hung

This week the Beryl Institute holds its annual Patient Experience Conference in Denver CO. This is a fantastic event. If you are involved with or interested in patient experience, I would strongly encourage you to attend in 2018. I will be following this year’s conference via the #PX2017 hashtag.

In honor of that event and because Beryl Institute President Jason A Wolf @jasonawolf is a frequent contributor to #hcldr chats, we thought we would recognize #PX2017 by focusing our next chat on the topic of patient experience #PtExp.

In preparation for this week’s blog I thought it would be fun to compare our modern-day patient experiences with that of the Victorian era. According to the Science Museum of London, in the 1700s hospitals were places you went to die and were often referred to as “gateways to death”. Infectious diseases were easily spread due to the lack of privacy and knowledge of bacteria. Patients that were deemed “unsightly” would be segregated and placed in sub-standard rooms. And you had to pay for your care ahead of time, including covering the cost of your funeral arrangements (talk about morbid pre-pay!).

A patient from the 1700s would be amazed at the experience today – private rooms, big screen TVs, valet parking and healthy food options. However, ask any current patient about our healthcare system and you are guaranteed to hear at least one complaint or suggestion on how patient experiences could be improved. Leading healthcare organizations realize that these “advocate patients” are goldmines and do not shy away from receiving/acting on patient feedback. Many of those organizations will have representatives at #PX2017.

In fact, if you use attendance at the Beryl Institute conference as a surrogate measure, there has never been more interest or investment in patient experience. Well over a thousand attendees are expected at #PX2017. Amazing. The Beryl Institute, under the guidance of Jason Wolf has done a fantastic job putting the spotlight on patient experience and in my opinion, one of their stand-out contributions is their definition of the patient experience:

We define patient experience as the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.

I hope one day the Beryl Institute or someone like them will establish a universally accepted standard of a “good” patient experience – one that mixes care quality, clinical outcomes and patient opinion into a quantitative measure. Until then, we are stuck with HCAHPS scores and online star-ratings as our only quantitative measures. These are poor substitutes in my opinion.

In 2013, a Consumer Health Insights Survey revealed that many factors that patients consider to be important to their overall healthcare experience are not captured in the HCAHPS standard:

It’s 2017, surely there must be better ways to gauge patient experience than via surveys? Some interesting options were noted in a 2013 UK’s Health Foundation report on Measuring Patient Experience:

I believe that with the advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) as well as Natural Language Processing (NLP) we will have the ability for patients to tell their healthcare stories and a computer will be able to sort out both sentiments as well as facts – neatly filing both away to be data-mined for improvement opportunities.

I am excited about the future of digital technologies for patient experience. However, I was recently reminded by a friend (and a #hcldr community member) that patient experience is more than just digital. My friend was a bit worried that too much attention was being placed on digital tools rather than training for clinicians and nurses. “There is no replacement for a good bedside manner or for looking patients in the eye when you tell them their test results in the exam room. They don’t teach that any more in med school and they should.”

The patient experience has come a long way since the 1700s, but progress in this aspect of healthcare has not kept up with the pace of medical technological change. We are still using antiquated measures of patient experience and using tools developed in the 1950s to collect experience data. I think it’s time to redefine what a good patient experience means in 2017 and build a measurable standard around it.

Join us on the next #hcldr chat, Tuesday March 21st at 8:30pm Eastern (GMT -5, for your local time click here) when we will be discussing patient experience in healthcare:

  • T1 In your opinion, what is a “good” patient experience?
  • T2 Is there a better way than surveys to measure patient experience? Does it defy quantification?
  • T3 Is there too much attention being placed on digital patient experience vs in-person? Why or why not?
  • T4 What aspect of patient experience needs to be improved the most? Where should attention be focused?


“Reaffirming the Core Values of Patient Experience”, Jason A. Wolf, The Beryl Institute, 3 February 2017,, accessed 19 March 2017

“Positive Patient Experience Yields Health Care Benefits”, Dan Strasbourg, Canada Health Infoway, 7 March 2017,, accessed 19 March 2017

“Feeling better? Improving patient experience in hospital”, The NHS Confederation, 2011,, accessed 18 March 2017

“Measuring the patient experience: Lessons from other industries”, Brandon Carrus et al, McKinsey & Company, August 2015,, accessed 18 March 2017

“No. 18 Measuring patient experience”, The Health Foundation, June 2013,, accessed 18 March 2017

“Focus on Patient Experience Strengthens Hospital Medicine Movement”, Burke Kealey MD, The Hospitalist, October 2014,, accessed 19 March 2017

“Is Digital Health Improving the Patient Experience?”, Centric Digital, 2 March 2016,, accessed 19 March 2017

“Providers argue true digital health reimagines the patient experience”, Jonah Comstock, Mobi Health News, 25 July 2016,,  accessed 19 March 2017

“Improving Patient Experience in the Digital Era”, Melody Udell, American Marketing Association, March 2014,, accessed 19 March 2017

“Patient and Family Promise key to Medical Center’s success”, Bill Snyder, Vanderbilt, 2 February 2017,, accessed 19 March 2017

“The Digital Patient Experience”, Inti Khan, CapGemini Consulting, 21 August 2014,, accessed 19 March 2017

“Hospitals”, Science Museum London,, accessed 19 March 2017

“British patients’ experiences of hospitalization”, Science Museum London,, accessed 19 March 2017

Image Credit

365/Day 49: What’s Up, Doc? – Amy Pritchett


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