He doesn’t think that is the ideal model. “We’re talking about systemic change from top to bottom. Someone with power, like the CEO or COO, has to take ownership.”
I asked Wolf to cook his advice down to the five most important tips a hospital can use to improve its patient experience. Here are his suggestions:
1. Be clear on what you are doing and why.
Healthcare reform has introduced new market pressures and opportunities. It’s okay to admit that you are implementing this change or that process because there’s money involved. In 2013 the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, or HCAPHS, will be used not only to measure performance on quality measures but also to establish how much a hospital will be paid for meeting the performance standards. Everyone in the hospital, from the mailroom to the boardroom, needs to understand that patient perceptions are directly related to meeting standards and earning quality payments.
2. Establish leadership vision and support
According to the Beryl Institute survey, 72% of the respondents cited strong, visible support from the top as a critical to the success of improving the patient experience. There needs to be a dedicated lead with the power and the ownership to move the process forward.
3. Cultural alignment is systemic
Understanding what a patient values or needs is a systemic process. Wolf tells the story of one medical center that looked at its surgery process and discovered that each surgical patient came into contact with 30 different departments. “The patient is only having one experience but the medical center needed to align the interests and culture of those 30 different departments into that single experience.”