Patient Experience and Cultural Transformation

Michael Zeis, for HealthLeaders Media , August 13, 2013
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This article appears in the July/August issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

At some point in the pursuit of providing positive patient experiences, one must come to grips with the pivotal role that communication plays. Perhaps considering the rigors of mastering their particular area of expertise and of applying their knowledge to the delivery of care for patients, some providers might look on communication as being a "soft" skill.

But when it comes to becoming patient-centered and delivering excellent patient experiences, the survey respondents acknowledge the importance of teaching, learning, and reinforcing communication skills.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents (74%) expect to focus on patient experience training and education over the next three years, and 30% expect to increase their spending on professional trainers or training materials.

Says report advisor William Maples, MD, senior vice president and chief quality officer at Mission Health System, a not-for-profit, independent community hospital system based in Asheville, N.C., "People may be looking at patient experience in terms of it being soft—the fluffy side of medicine." But he also points out that traditional process improvement efforts won't necessarily translate to patient experience improvement. "For so long, I believed that we thought we could engineer our way into safety/no harm and positive outcomes."

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