Patient Experience: Hospitals' Holy Grail?

Steve Whitehurst, for HealthLeaders Media , September 30, 2011

A patient's experience with his or her local healthcare provider is critical to achieving true health reform. The patient experience is not an isolated event. Rather, it is the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization's culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care. There is no silver bullet or checklist to follow. Instead, the patient experience is comprised of every impression and encounter a patient (or family member) has with your health system. Whether it's making a phone call for additional information, scheduling an appointment, or whether your website is easy to navigate, every interaction impacts patient perception.

Like it or not, the patient experience is the holy grail for healthcare providers. That said, hospitals need to focus on their culture, not on their grade. If the focus is on the score, we've missed the point. We need to keep the focus on the patient.

Think about it. When you have a relationship with someone and believe they care about you, you are more likely to trust them, follow their advice and communicate with them honestly. When you have an isolated encounter with someone, you're less likely to take the risk.

The same thing is true for healthcare. Building relationships with patients is the single most important thing hospitals can do to make a lasting change in the delivery of care. When the focus is on building a relationship with every patient, every time, there is better communication, better compliance, better coordination of care, and better outcomes. And yes, an enhanced bottom line as well.

See Also:
Dartmouth Atlas: Readmission Rates Show 'Not Much Progress'
Readmission Rates Revealed for 292 Worst Hospitals
Selecting a Strategy to Stop HAI

Steve Whitehurst is senior vice president of the patient experience at The Beryl Companies.


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30 comments on "Patient Experience: Hospitals' Holy Grail?"

William (10/28/2011 at 11:38 PM)
Nina, great points! People will never remember what you did or how you did it, but will always remember how you made them feel. And if you love your job, and are in medicine for the right reason, to help people, it will show in your work and your contribution to the scores. God bless.

mHealth Innovations (10/26/2011 at 11:44 AM)
Relationship with patients determinate the satisfaction's level of the client, totally agree with that. But I believe that as well is the sum of some other factors that make the experience to be good or bad. Those factors goes from hospital or health centre installations, time of waiting to be seen, the possibilities of getting an appointment when the patient can make it... in my opinion factors that can be improved by using mobile applications

Nina (10/19/2011 at 9:30 AM)
Relationships are tough to build in today's society, whether due to time factors or communication systems. I know as an RN, I have to force myself as I walk into the room to slow down, connect with the patient, and have a presence. When I reflect on my day, if some of those components do no occur, the day does not give me pride in my job for that day. I love being a Nurse and I want my patient's to remember the care I gave them.




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