Have We Reached Peak Patient Experience?

Blog post by Colin Hung.

This week I am attending the annual Patient Experience Summit #PESummit hosted by Cleveland Clinic. The event runs from Monday June 18th to Wednesday June 20th. Many friends and members of the #hcldr community will be there, including:

Special shout out to Adrienne Boissy @boissyad who is the force behind the event and who was kind enough to invite me to attend this year’s event.

I am a big proponent of Patient Experience #ptexp – improving it, including patients in the design of better experiences, engineering experience into clinical workflow and baking it into HealthIT product design. It should come as no surprise that Patient Experience is a topic that we have covered many times on #hcldr:

Even though I remain committed to Patient Experience, even I have to admit that in the past few years, the term has become “trendy” and a tad overused. At every conference you see the words splashed across numerous booths and prominently featured on brochures. It has become the pixie dust that HealthIT marketers are sprinkling liberally on their materials to give them a shiny glitter in 2018.

So many companies and consultants are claiming to “improve the patient experience” that I am starting to wonder if we have reached the peak of its popularity? Are we at the zenith and will we start to see a precipitous drop that usually follows rising hype? Put another way, have we reached Peak Patient Experience?

In 1956 M. King Hubbert, put forward a theory that fossil fuel production in a given region over time would follow a roughly bell-shaped curve. His assumption was that extraction and production of oil would initially grow exponentially until reaching peak output. A decline in production and discovery would then follow. The highest point on Hubbert’s curve is commonly called “Peak Oil”. Hubbert’s theory has been applied to many other fields including cars, diamonds, and even the economy itself.

Are we at the point where the return on investing in patient experience will begin declining? Is the industry growing tired or perhaps immune to the patient experience message? Or has focus on patient experience become accepted and is now baked into healthcare thinking? These are questions that I have begun to ask [I believe it’s healthy to question and examine one’s beliefs and assumptions from time to time].

Consider for a moment the “dining experience” at restaurants. It is a well established fact that in order for a restaurant to survive, it must provide a minimum dining experience. This includes being minimally clean, adhering to safe food handling procedures, a pleasant décor, prompt service and accurate billing.

Be honest, how many of us really take note of the dining experience when the food is good? If the food is sub-par, I’ll complain, write a bad review and never return to the establishment – regardless of the service I received/the dining experience I had. If the dining experience is sub-par, but the food is “okay”, I’ll not likely say anything. It is my opinion that we reached Peak Dining Experience a long time ago and that it is so baked into the industry (pun intended) that it no longer gets special attention by most restaurants.

Have we reached a similar point for patient experience? I don’t think we have, but I’m curious to know what others think.

I’m also interested in hearing ideas about what we can do to keep patient experience on healthcare’s radar when it begins to fade in popularity. I truly believe that patient experience is a bit over-hyped and over-used at the moment, and that a drop is coming. What can we do at that point to keep patient experience moving forward? Or when we get there will it sufficiently be baked into healthcare processes and product designs that we won’t need special focus on it?

Please join me this week as we conduct the #hcldr tweetchat LIVE from #PESummit in Cleveland. We will be diving deep into patient experience and asking some tough questions. Be part of the conversation on Tuesday June 19th at 8:30pm ET (for your local time click here) when we will be discussing:

  • T1 We all want the best outcomes alongside the best experience. But if you got the best possible outcome would the patient experience really matter to you?
  • T2 Have we reached or are we close to “peak patient experience” (the top of the trend curve)?
  • T3 What can we do to keep patient experience moving forward when it is no longer a trending topic/shiny new thing?
  • T4 Going forward, will technology or technique/training have a bigger positive impact on patient experience? Why?


“Patient Engagement versus Patient Experience”, Adrienne Boissy, NEJM Catalyst, 17 May 2017, https://catalyst.nejm.org/patient-engagement-vs-patient-experience/, accessed 17 June 2018

“Patient Experience: Driving Outcomes at the Heart of Healthcare”, Jason A Wolf, Patient Experience Journal, 2016, http://pxjournal.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1147&context=journal, accessed 17 June 2018

“With patient experience, ‘We need to dream bigger’ Cleveland Clinic leader says”, Mike Miliard, Healthcare IT News, 5 March 2018, http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/patient-experience-we-need-dream-bigger-cleveland-clinic-leader-says, accessed 17 June 2018

“A systematic review of evidence on the links between patient experience and clinical safety and effectiveness”, Cathal Doyle et al, BMJ Open, 2013, http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/3/1/e001570, accessed 17 June 2018

“Section 2: Why Improve Patient Experience?”, AHRQ, May 2017, https://www.ahrq.gov/cahps/quality-improvement/improvement-guide/2-why-improve/index.html, accessed 17 June 2018

“Healthcare’s Trillion-Dollar Disruption”, Dave Chase, Forbes, 17 January 2013, https://www.forbes.com/sites/davechase/2013/01/17/healthcares-trillion-dollar-disruption/#6e7a0bf642fb, accessed 17 June 2018

“Asking the Right Questions to Improve Patient Experience and Safety”, Healthgrades, 2015, https://www.healthgrades.com/quality/2015-patient-safety-and-experience-asking-the-right-questions-to-improve-patient-experience-and-safety, accessed 17 June 2018

“Moving beyond peak medicine: understanding the power of relationship”, Sara Stewart-Brown, BHMA, 2015, https://bhma.org/article/moving-beyond-peak-medicine-understanding-power-relationship/, accessed 17 June 2018

“Has the Global Economy Reached ‘Peak’ Peak?”, Morgan Stanley, 15 March 2018, https://www.morganstanley.com/ideas/ruchir-sharma-trends-2018, accessed 17 June 2018

“Why the Prospect of Peak Oil Is Hotly Debated”, Jess Shankleman and Hayley Warren, Bloomberg Businessweek, 21 December 2017, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-22/why-the-prospect-of-peak-oil-is-hotly-debated-quicktake-q-a, accessed 17 June 2018

“No Peak Oil for America Or The World”, James Conca, Forbes, 2 March 2017, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2017/03/02/no-peak-oil-for-america-or-the-world/#33ebdaa44220, accessed 17 June 2018

“Has The US Reached Peak Car?”, Charlie Sorrel, Fast Company, 17 February 2017, https://www.fastcompany.com/3068269/has-the-us-reached-peak-car, accessed 17 June 2018

“Why diamond production may be about to peak”, CH, The Economist, 9 March 2017, https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2017/03/09/why-diamond-production-may-be-about-to-peak, accessed 17 June 2018

Image Credit

“Ingalis Peak” – Vlad Karpinskiy https://flic.kr/p/5uBoi9

One comment

  1. Reblogged this on A Girl Disrupted.

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