A lady walks into a hospital. She winces, rubbing her arm then kneading it gently. She approaches reception. She sighs and scribbles what she needs to on a form and is then motioned into the waiting room. She scurries up when she hears her name and disappears into a consultation room. Two days later, she walks out to a waiting car outside the hospital. She’s not rubbing her arm anymore.
If you ask a hospital manager what they think about the above scenario, and their focus is process rather than patient experience, they would probably measure success as a patient’s condition resolved, her details recorded on the right forms and the availability of a hospital bed (length of stay) as a result of that problem resolution.
Turn now to the healthcare center whose focus is patient management and efficiency; they would ensure that the effectiveness of every step of the healthcare process – from the patient arriving at reception to patient discharge – is measured and efficient from a time and activity perspective.
Now question the healthcare center whose focus is the patient journey. They would do all of the above, and more. They’ll wager their time to understand and measure the ‘winces’, the ‘sighs’, the ‘scurry’, the manner in which the patient ‘walks out to the waiting car outside of the hospital.’ They ensure the right questions are asked of the right people at the right time. They would also very likely follow-up with her after discharge to ensure her safety and service satisfaction. For these healthcare centers – the Patient Experience (PX) champions – the patient is at the very center of the care they receive.
The focus would be:
- Did the patient require help filling out the form (was there a physical pain or language barrier) VS. did the patient fill in the form we need them to fill in?
- Did the patient understand what the doctor was saying VS. did the doctor explain everything to the patient?
- Did the patient experience compassion and empathy during treatment VS. were staff able to treat the patient in a professional and timely manner?
- Were the family members reassured about the patient’s situation VS. were the family members informed about the patient’s situation?
- Is the patient able to perform well at work and at home in the days and weeks after discharge VS. was the patient followed-up with the day after discharge?
Taking a holistic view, the PX champions would also ask staff, if they were making a difference, if they felt resourced, supported, celebrated and if they felt like they had meaning in their work i.e. ‘living their purpose’ ?
Understanding the various elements that comprise the patient’s journey and then measuring each element of that journey, is what separates the wheat from the chaff, the top performing healthcare centers from the average ones.
Many are now riding the wave of PX trends. A 2013 survey of management committees in more than 1000 hospitals conducted by Catalyst Healthcare Research and the Beryl Institute, found that 70% of respondents ranked ‘patient experience and satisfaction’ as one of their top three priorities over the next few years – it exceeded cost management, capital improvements, HR and healthcare processes. The survey also found that more and more healthcare centers were delegating this very important area to dedicated experience leaders.
What kind of healthcare leader would be more meaningful to you?