An Interview with Gerard Ratnam on Patient Experience

Nothing spoke to my passion more than the events that took place in the last couple of weeks. I was invited to speak at the Malaysian Cancer Care Conference in KL and was then interviewed on prime time TV about patient experience. The experiences of cancer survivors who attended the conference helped spread the word about consumer empowerment. I emphasised this key message in my engagement with both the conference and media audience – asking patients to push to get the support they need and to the health provider and clinician in measuring and delivering a better experience for the patient.

Watch the video below to find out more.

If you’re struggling to engage your clinicians in improving the patient experience, call or email us NOW for answers!




6 Ways to Unbungle THAT Cancer Bungle



You would have seen the recent headlines about ‘Patients left in the dark after Federal Government secretly bungled new national cancer screening programs’, namely, a delay of 6 months of the rollout of new cervical and bowel screening programs, potentially risking thousands of lives. Let’s leave out the sensationalism and look at this case study from the lens of the 6E patient experience framework:



[icon name=”search” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Experience:  There are no safeguards in the interim to counter the delay. Research conducted on 212 cancer patients in Canada has shown that increased wait times affect perceptions of information, instructions, and the overall treatment provided by physicians. Essentially, the initial perceptions of what would have been a very positive government move are now likely to put patient perceptions of all stakeholders and drivers of the program, at risk. A robust communications strategy and associated PR plan would advise key stakeholders, including patients, of issues that might impact them and this needs to include monitoring and management of social media.

[icon name=”search” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Emotion: Women are unable to access the new human papillomavirus screening and have limited access to the old Pap smear program which is ‘already being wound down’. Patient emotions around this lack of access are likely to run the gamut of anger, frustration, worry and uncertainty. The ideal way to address this is through clear and transparent communication around causes of the delay and most importantly, what is being done to address the needs of the high-risk segment in the interim.

[icon name=”search” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Engagement:  The Department of Health and Telstra (awarded the contract to roll National Cancer Screening Register) are working together with the states and pathology companies to find a solution. In ensuring that these talks don’t take place in silos, they can also be complemented with discussions with patient representatives from high-risk and low-risk groups. Getting buy-in from the start with patients ensures greater buy-in during the path to resolution and the resolution itself.

[icon name=”search” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Execution:  Indicative reasons for the delay include a lack of specialist staffing (only 1 in 5 pathologists available beyond May) and technical problems around the National Cancer Screening Register. These barriers, which seemed to be identified too late, illustrate a potential lack of planning (forecasting specialist resources) and insufficient risk mitigation strategies (foreseeing technical risks and winding down the old screening program too quickly). The most urgent element currently is to investigate solutions for high-risk groups. Seeking assistance from private hospitals could be key to the solution.

[icon name=”search” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Excellence:  Continued monitoring of media, building open and transparent communication lines through patient and stakeholder engagement platforms, risk mitigation and flexibility in solution development, would allow for a smoother implementation of the program when ready and (hopefully!) override its initial negative publicity around ‘over-promising and under-delivering’.

[icon name=”search” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Evolution:  There is an opportunity to roll out the program more broadly, to tap into other pre-existing registries that may have overlapping resources.  There is also the need to keep in mind that screening is just one step of the patient journey; there are a myriad of touch points for a new cancer patient that requires equal focus. In fact, I presented at the Malaysian Cancer Care Conference just a few days ago that included an audience of cancer survivors who were calling for the government and healthcare providers to consider their needs across the whole journey.

One of the many lessons we can take from the ‘cancer bungle’, is that it is better to do everything you can to get it right the first time – or risk having to clean up an (unforeseen) mess.

Find out how Energesse can help you get it right from the start – reach out to us now!


1 Patients left in the dark after Federal Government secretly bungled new national cancer screening programs’:
2Use of screening tests, diagnosis wait times, and wait-related satisfaction in breast and prostate cancer

Can Virtual Reality Tech Change the Patient Experience?

Virtual reality technology brings new meaning to the phrase ‘walking in one’s shoes’. If clinicians and non-clinicians could truly experience what it is like for patients with conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s, think about how much more empathy would ensue in a hospital and the transformations that would result.

Watch this video of my chat with Liam from Opaque Interactive.



Thank you to those who filled out our Energesse Experience Survey recently – we’re already actioning your suggestions.

We want more stuff on physician engagement. ????

Look out for our Staff Engagement Protocol in a couple of weeks! ????

If you haven’t filled out our survey yet, it’s not too late! We do this survey to understand how we can help you be successful in your roles – the closer you get to your personal and professional success, the more successful we are in our vision to transform patient experience in this country. So help us help you by clicking on the survey link below.


Australian Healthcare Firm Energesse To Enter Malaysian Market

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 (Bernama) — Australian healthcare technology firm, Energesse, is making its debut in Malaysia after a successful foray into the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US).

Energesse was founded in 2012 by Chief Executive Officer, Dr Avnesh Ratnanesan, a Malaysian national.

He said among the solutions that Energesse had in mind for the Malaysian market is the Membership Engagement Services (MES) Experience software platform which collects patient feedback and reports in real time.

This enables front-line staff to manage complaints and respond quickly.

The technology uses a sophisticated PanSensic machine-learning algorithm which can analyse trends in attitudes, communication and compassion.

“This empowers front-line staff to understand issues at granular level and make effective improvements for patients, consumers and their families,” Dr Avnesh told Bernama recently.

He said Energesse has received funding from a Malaysian private investment fund.

“We are in serious discussions with stakeholders and senior executives of Malaysian private hospitals at present.

“They have asked for proposals on how our technology services can be rolled-out in their hospitals,” he said.

According to Dr Avnesh, Energesse will be introducing technology solutions that have helped organisations in developed markets reduce costs and improve the quality of healthcare treatment.

“Energesse has led projects in hospitals, among health insurers, healthcare companies and the public sector across the US,UK and Australia,” he said.

He said there are significant opportunities to raise the maturity of patient experience in hospitals in Malaysia in line with developed nations.

“We are introducing the first ‘real-time feedback’ technology in the country that can analyse patient emotions and opinions through feedback surveys,” he added.

He said, Energesse is working with UK partner MES, a communications consultant, on its software platform, to help boost the customer service capability of Malaysia’s private hospitals.

This is to cater specifically for medical tourists from overseas as well as Malaysian patients wanting high-quality healthcare.

“Australia and the UK were the first two countries where Energesse and MES successfully implemented the MES Experience software technology,” he highlighted.

Dr Avnesh said the technology was deployed in the Western Sydney Local Health District with a population of about 900,000 residents.

The MES technology, he said, can raise healthcare performance in Malaysia with hospital services responding faster to patient feedback and complaints.

“This is premised on research findings demonstrating that hospitals with high-quality patient experience and customer service are more than 2.5 times more profitable than those delivering poor service.

“We see Malaysia as having significant growth potential to upgrade its service offerings and patient care in the healthcare system,” he added.

Dr Avnesh is of the opinion that Malaysia has strong potential in medical tourism with the availability of highly trained doctors and specialists, as well as English-speaking medical staff.

“Medical procedures are also relatively cheaper here compared to other western countries,” he added.

However, he explained that rising healthcare costs means there is a need for an efficient reduction and to identify areas that need investment as well as improvement.

Dr Avnesh has roots in the Malaysian healthcare industry.

His late father, Dr Ratnanesan Arumugam was a prominent Malaysian dental surgeon, having held roles as President of the World Dental Federation, Commonwealth Dental Association and served seven years at the helm of the Malaysian Dental Association.

“I am inspired by his extraordinary achievements and believe Energesse can become a world leader in the healthcare industry in future,” he said.

Dr Avnesh, who trained as a medical doctor in the UK and worked as a medical practitioner in Australia, is also passionate about making a significant contribution to the healthcare industry and patients in Malaysia.

He hoped to have a greater impact on the Malaysian health industry through his extensive experience in the biotech and pharmaceuticals industry with leading organisations such as Pfizer Australia.

Dr Avnesh emphasised that since 2012, Energesse had impacted about 107,140 lives through its services and solutions in the healthcare industry.

He said Energesse had undertaken projects in Australia for health insurance giants such as BUPA, Australian federal government agencies, and specialist fertility clinics.

“We are aiming to impact a billion people globally by 2040 through our healthcare solutions and raise standards in the industry to provide efficient services and enhanced patient experience,” he added.

Western Sydney Local Health District launches Australian-first Patient Survey


Feedback from patients, carers and their families staying in some of western Sydney’s busiest hospitals can now be offered and addressed in real-time via a new Australian-first digital platform.
Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) is now running the My Experience Matters survey using cutting-edge feedback technology, allowing staff to instantaneously analyse patient experiences in their hospitals.


The survey, which was officially launched at Westmead Hospital on January 17th, 2017, has already been rolled-out to some wards at Westmead and Auburn hospitals, allowing patients to provide their feedback via hospital iPad or online.


WSLHD Patient and Carer Experience manager Kay de Ridder said hospital staff immediately received the survey responses, allowing them to address any issues in real-time.

“It could be a simple thing like fixing a banging door that is keeping a patient awake – staff get that feedback from a patient and they can immediately go up and fix it; feedback like that helps us improve the care we provide,” she said.

“We want to know what matters to people so we can improve our services; we are committed to learning from our patients, carers and their families.”

Ms de Ridder said Westmead Hospital patients involved in preliminary use of the survey last year had recommended a range of measures to improve services.

“On one ward, about 80 per cent of patients said they had been personally greeted by nursing staff each day during their visit. The ward’s nursing unit manager wanted to bring that score up to 100 per cent so she held a session with the staff to ensure they were all introducing themselves to their patients; it’s just little things like that,” she said.

“This feedback is critical to service planning and improvement; we’re also working with units and staff to assist them in linking in with existing quality improvement structures to make changes.”

The My Experience Matters survey is now live on Westmead and Auburn hospitals webpages:


The survey takes just three minutes to complete and all responses are anonymous.

WSLHD chief executive Danny O’Connor said the district was committed to genuine patient-centred care.

“We want to provide the best quality care for all patients in our hospitals, clinics and community health centres,” she said.

“Gathering honest feedback and being responsive to any issues is critical to ensuring every patient has a positive experience in our facilities.”

The survey will be rolled-out to all facilities across the LHD over the next three years.

5 Health Industry Trends for 2017…No.2 and 5 are crucial!

There is much uncertainty, and significant transformation, taking place within the global health industry. With Trump taking the reins, the future of Obama’s Affordable Care Act is unclear. Brexit might see potential funding cuts to the NHS which will increase staffing pressures. Hospitals have to figure how to get the most out of each pound. These changes are impacting other health systems, like ours in Australia.

The strongest theme is certainly value-based healthcare – how to offer value to stakeholders, partners and consumers, in a climate of limited spending and economic uncertainty. As per the Healthcare Triple Aims, value can be defined as improving health outcomes, reducing cost per capita and improving the experience of care.

Here are 5 key (aggregated) health trends around ‘value’ and what it means for the future of patient experience in countries like Australia.

  1. Organisations to adapt, innovate and build new approaches to work. The continued emphasis on patient-centeredness, cost-effectiveness, safety and quality means that getting the most out of your current measurement methods is vital. The Western Sydney Hospital District is already seeing some strong interim successes with the Energesse MES platform.
  2. A more active data-led approach to patient engagement. More roles are likely to open up in hospitals in software and data management pointing to an increased requirement for effective and efficient ways to extract and understand patient demographics, needs and issues. Seek real-time, granular reporting (from board to ward) on patient experience data for a true drill-down of problems, empowering health teams to develop solutions.
  3. Greater need to address situations where consumer experiences with hospital billing and payment, damage opinions of organizations. Understanding the breadth and depth of these incidences within your health setting is vital in order to build less complex, secure and modern payments systems. Ensure your patient experience measurement quantifies and qualifies i.e. it counts incidences and captures insightful patient stories that help support the development of new service initiatives.
  4. Medical schools and residency programs are building innovative training programs to prepare students for a new healthcare landscape. Measure the effectiveness of your doctor training programs, identify current skill gaps and future skill requirements and start incorporating new elements in your training programs. We measured the effectiveness of the Greenslopes junior doctor training programme recently. See here for more details.
  5. More focus on physician engagement. Leaders are now focusing on engagement as something that is integral to alignment, accountability and patient satisfaction, and also critical to the next stages of performance improvement. Seek partners for holistic coaching and mentoring of physicians. At Energesse, we are firm believers of doctors being the most credible mentors to other doctors. Apart from our one-on-one personal and professional coaching, we recently launched group-coaching workshops for participants to help themselves and help others achieve job satisfaction and success.

If you’re like me and you want to deliver more VALUE in 2017, then let’s have a (no-obligation) CHAT NOW about riding these trends!



PriceWaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute Report: Top health industry issues of 2017:

Online Health Technology Trends 2017:

Studer Group Insights for 2017:

Hays Recruitment Advice for Lifescience 2017:

The most unexpected story on patient experience you will read today…

My Research Manager at Energesse, Kiran, flew to New Zealand a few days ago and she often gets nervous on flights. Something happened on the flight that shocked and inspired her…. here’s her turbulent tale…

At about 10.35am, the Malaysia Airlines plane hit a rough patch. A warbled cry pierced the air. 5 rows down from her, a 20 year old man called Calvin, was having a seizure!

For a moment, no one did anything. Passengers around him stared in alarm as he made strangled sounds, his arms jerking about. Then panic, as someone shouted ‘He’s choking! He’s choking!’. Someone else made a move to give him the Heimlich maneuver. One other recognized it as an epileptic fit.

47188500 - blurred interior of airplane.

Suffice to say, it was a complete state of confusion!

A steward came running in to help. He was visibly panicked and paged for a doctor.

There were none on board (I wasn’t there of course!). And poor Calvin was travelling alone.

An elderly lady jumped across three rows of seats toward Calvin. She looked determined. Taking off her jacket, she asked the people around her to help. She waited for Calvin’s movements to slow down and then got him down to the ground, lying him on his side and extending his neck. We collected tissues to wipe his mouth. The steward brought an oxygen tank and placed the mask over his mouth. Passengers helped push blankets under him and managed to lift him up onto the seats. The elderly lady kept reassuring Calvin.

‘’You just had a seizure….you’re ok…..tell me your name”.

His head was lolling about and she kept waking him up and calmly asking, “Do you have medicines, Calvin, where are they? Do you take the full pill or just half? Calvin, listen, stay up, stay up”.

She repeated this until she managed to find the medicines in his bag and administer the right dose.

She stayed with him until he was fully conscious. Others helped to take him to the restroom and bring him water.

The situation was under control. Until 6 hours later.

Calvin had another seizure. Things got interesting in a different way.

The elderly flying superwoman was there as soon as she heard Calvin’s now-familiar cry.  8 passengers and 2 stewards entered the scene. Instructions were minimal and actions were on auto-pilot.

Wait. Lie. Towels.

Wipe. Blankets. Brace.

1,2,3, Up!

Secure. Clean. Clean. Oxygen.

Reassure. Reassure. Reassure.

Calm. Thank you, everyone.

The ‘fluidity’ of the scene before Kiran was like music.

This impromptu, unstructured, unaligned, very diverse team of airline passengers came together with one goal: Help Calvin. They moved together calmly and quickly. They looked to the Flying Superwoman to lead. She led in a way that was positive, calm, consistent and inspiring. New passengers came to the scene; they had watched, understood and felt compelled to help. They found a fit almost immediately.

Once the scene had settled, the leader stayed around Calvin. She’d missed her dinner. She stayed until the pilot said we were landing.

No, this wasn’t a scene in a hospital where everyone knew their roles. It wasn’t an OT (operating theatre), it wasn’t a ward. Calvin’s patient experience took place in row 20 of a NINE HOUR FLIGHT.

I can’t help but be drawn to the Flying Superwoman in Kiran’s story.

It is very likely that, whatever her background, she had probably had excellent training, a long track record of medical EXPERIENCE, and probably some highly qualified mentors along the way. She had immediate buy-in and ENGAGEMENT from those around her through her demeanor and actions. She asked questions, she listened, she didn’t panic. She showed a high degree of EMOTIONal intelligence. The lesson that passed on from rescuer to team, from leader to followers, happened quickly.

120 people in that flight cabin went home that day with a skill, a piece of knowledge, a little less fear and a sense of participation in something that was beyond them.

How does one get to this point in EXECUTING your duties? When does leadership becomes so effortless, where inspiring is so easy, where a team of people rallies around you and finds their place so easily because they understand your purpose and they understand their purpose?

Fundamental to any form of leadership is the ability to take charge yet be approachable and accessible, managing your response and reaction to situations and delivering EXCELLENCE.

You can get these fundamentals right with Energesse as your Learning Partner. Be prepared to deal with the unexpected when it happens by learning about the ‘6 E Framework’ for improving the Patient Experience, anytime, anywhere.

Don’t wait another day to EVOLVE your own ‘superhuman’ abilities in really knowing what to do for your patients when they need you.


My phone line is open. The numbers are 02 809 0918. Let’s have a 15 minute conversation TODAY about your leadership and team challenges.

The Often Overlooked Clinician Element in Patient Experience

energesseIt’s not the narrow furrow of compensation plans, salary scales or allowances that keeps the doctors on the right side of patient experience.

It’s the broader view of ‘engagement’ – actions that invite doctors into the fold of strategic and operational plans, perhaps training that allows them to engage fully and more effectively in their purpose or asking the right questions around THEIR daily experience at the hospital.

A highly engaged clinician feels connected to their purpose and aligned to their career, their place of work, and their colleagues. As a result, they are able to approach each patient as an individual with physical, mental and emotional needs and cater their care around these needs.

The Greenslopes Private Hospital Network (GPHN) in Queensland did a great job at clinician engagement recently. We helped them undertake a research project around understanding the level of satisfaction among 300 junior doctors’ within the GPHN training programme.

We helped them design an online survey, choose its mediums, analyse and benchmark survey outcomes and provide recommendations for their training programme, based on the comments and suggestions made by the doctors.

There were some great wins in the form of a 50% response rate (highly unusual!), responses that exceeded expectations in quantity and quality, and useful feedback (nothing was held back!) about every element of the GPHN training programme.

Yes, our Energesse survey techniques worked. In addition, Greenslopes did these right:

  • They had already been building a foundation of transparent and honest communication between doctors and the HR management team
  • All doctors were informed about the survey from the beginning and its purpose was communicated well and frequently
  • A number of follow-up calls were made to some key doctors – who were then more than likely to have ‘spread the word’
  • Doctors who had already left Greenslopes for several years also responded to the survey
  • Upon completion, the GPHN Management thanked the doctors for their feedback and reiterated how they were going to use the responses and next steps
  • There was also one clear overall result – the GPHN private training programme had higher ratings when benchmarked against Australian public hospital training programme ratings

The survey was not compulsory, but there was a strong connection between the doctors and the management that kept them engaged enough in GPHN’s purpose to listen, to understand and to respond.

Jim Houston, the Director of Medical Services at Greenslopes, was very happy with the results. Here’s his testimonial. He is also presenting the outcomes at the upcoming Workforce Planning Healthcare Conference on the 5th of December 2016.

Here are a number of ways we can help you reach out to YOUR clinicians:

  • Research (surveys, interviews, focus groups) around clinician thoughts, needs and opinions
  • Training workshops to align clinicians to hospital goals such as patient experience
  • Granular monitoring of patient experience outcomes in real-time through our MES Technology

We would be happy to give you an overview via a presentation at your team meeting or grand round (monthly meeting). Just send me an email.


Navigating Volcanoes in Leading your Patient Experience

During my recent holiday in Bali, I climbed to the peak of a volcano. As I stood up there, just reflecting on the world, and life, and my profession in improving the patient experience, I think about the joy that lies within, the environment around us and how important it is for us to really think about our environment in healthcare, and to think about the volcanoes that happen everyday.

From the peak of Mt Batur, I share some thoughts that could help you on your journey of improving that patient experience.

How do we stay focussed as a Leader of the Patient Experience?

How do we keep our teams focused as Conveyors of the Patient Experience?

Seeds of Change from the Patient Experience and Choice Conference 2016 (Part 1)

On the 10th and 11th of October 2016, the seeds of change were sown in Australian healthcare, particularly in relation to improving patient experience and choice. Energesse came on as knowledge partner to support AventEdge, an event organizer that held a 2-day pioneering conference on how to improve Australian healthcare for all Australians.

The event attracted a small group of determined stakeholders from not only Australia, but as far as Malaysia and the UK. I was proud to chair the conference and open the stage for our international keynote speaker, David McNally, who is the Head of the Experience of Care for NHS England.

David reiterated the definition of patient experience from the Beryl Institute which is ‘the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care’. He talked about the work of Dr Kate Granger in the UK, a doctor who became a patient herself and began the ‘Hello, My Name Is…’ Campaign – a campaign which encouraged health practitioners to introduce themselves before touching or communicating with a patient. It was a simple lesson yet such a powerful element of what we miss when we take our jobs for granted in healthcare.

He reemphasized Dr Kate Granger’s words which were:

“I firmly believe that it is not just about knowing someone’s name but it runs much deeper.  It is about making a human connection beginning a therapeutic relationship and building trust. In my mind, it is the first rung on the ladder to providing compassionate care.”

That perspective led to significant initiatives and effort within the NHS – one of which was that patient and carer partnerships would focus on four elements, particularly:

·         Improving the experience of care

·         Professional education

·         Service design and redesign

·         Quality design, improvement and checking

The following speaker was Michael Krieg, the CEO of St John of God Ballarat Hospital who talked about building internal capability and training his internal staff to be able to improve patient experience and work on projects themselves.

Beth Masling related her own story from the Western NSW Local Health District about when she met with an accident and became a patient herself at her own hospital. Her key points were to continue to help people connect with the WHY in their lives: WHY did they enter the profession of healthcare and how important it is to translate the statistics that healthcare practitioners look at everyday into what it means for an individual person.

These messages really resonated with me particularly in the work that we do to coach practitioners in this space.

Do you feel that our workforce and practitioners in healthcare are clear on their purpose?