The Beryl Institute, an organization dedicated to improving the patient experience, describes the patient experience as the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care. In their 2011 study, The State of Patient Experience in American Hospitals, they found that hospitals rank improving the patient experience second only to improving quality and patient safety.
Recently, Fierce Healthcare published an article that provided a list of patient experience best practices. Our list below cites this article when creating five ways to provide a better patient experience in your hospital or healthcare organization:
1. Address the culture. Patient experience improvements need to be rooted in the culture of the hospital. Cleveland Clinic, a pioneer in the rapidly-growing field of patient experience, addresses the culture by having all of its employees participate in the Cleveland Clinic Experience.
“Ensure the number one priority and focus is not revenue generation but, rather, the patient,” said Tom Dahlborg, vice president for strategy and project director of the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality and former executive director of a physician practice. “Bringing the joy back in healing,” enables hospitals to position the physician and the patient for improved healing experiences, he noted.
2. Hold regular meetings. This provides up to date responses from the staff on how to improve the patient experience. At Windsor Regional Hospital’s monthly Quality of Care Committee meeting, physicians and front-line staff present a patient story.
“The patient story highlights an experience of a patient that did not go well. This could have resulted due to an error, communication breakdown, or gap in the system,” said David Musyj, president and CEO of the Ontario, Canada-based hospital.
These types of meetings facilitate an open discussion about what went wrong and what changes can be made to resolve the issue.
3. Involve leadership. “Nothing about patient experience will work if you do not have true commitment from the top,” according to healthcare consultant, Anthony Cirillo, president of Fast Forward Consulting. That’s why he recommends hospitals hire a “Chief Experience Officer” to ensure that patient experience becomes and remains a top priority.
4. Encourage staff to be responsive. Responsiveness emphasizes clear communication that facilitates patient engagement. It is necessary to know if the staff clearly communicated in a respectful manner and if clinical decisions were explained clearly in a manner that suggested high-quality decision-making. This also involves staff members giving each patient their full attention and taking the time to identify what the patient’s real needs are.
5. Improve the discharge process. According to a 2009 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) study, patients discharged from the hospital who have a clear understanding of their after-hospital care instructions, including when to make follow-up appointments and clear instructions on taking medication, are 30 percent less likely to be readmitted or visit the emergency department than patients who lack this information.
Committed to Improving Patient Experience
At McKesson we are committed to helping medical imaging departments improve their patient experience. To learn more on our commitment, read our recent post describing five ways our enterprise imaging technology benefits patients throughout an organization.