"Patient experience has become one of our top priorities over the last year because of the increasing competition in our market, the increasing importance of HCAHPS, and the coming changes in reimbursement for inpatient admissions," said one survey respondent, who is a patient experience leader in a small hospital.
This growing significance may also solve another challenge to improving the patient experience—a lack of cultural fit or employee buy-in (16%) and a lack of management consensus (10%). Even CEOs who may have formerly put the patient experience on the back burner will now be forced to view it as a top priority, which they seemingly are, since 20% of our survey respondents were CEOs.
"The CEO is the one that is the embodiment of the health system mission," said Steve Ronstrom, CEO of Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, WI, the lead advisor for the report. "If we don't keep the actual experience paramount in our daily work, it can get lost."
Surprisingly, there are some simple things that can be done to increase patient experience scores, such as hourly rounding and conducting handoff reports in the patient's room so the patient can hear what the nurses are saying and be part of the process, Ronstrom says.
There needs to be one patient experience champion to ensure that these improvement measures are taking place and are being carried out correctly. That person may not always be the marketing leader. But it should be.