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Amplifying Focus on the Patient Experience

Healthcare Leadership Takeaways from the Central and Southern Ohio Fall HIMSS Conference

As discussed by session presenters Ed Marx and Cris Ross, a large focus within the Central and Southern Ohio Fall HIMSS Virtual Conference centered on improving the patient experience. Despite continuous efforts in the last few years, the healthcare industry still seems to lag behind others in consumer experience efforts. One reason identified for this is that hospitals and health systems have become so hyper focused on improving certain processes within their institutions, like specific safety measures, but being excellent at all these specific processes often times means that facilities then lag in the patient experience in the overlooked aftermath.

How can healthcare leaders meaningfully amplify the patient experience moving forward? The four tenants of improved patient experiences discussed include ensuring healthcare affordability, continuity for seamless experiences across the care continuum, digital enablement – from telehealth visits to remote patient monitoring – as well as engagement tools designed with the patient/consumer voice in mind.

To further break these overarching recommendations down, conference participants shared real-life patient engagement tactics, including:

  • Utilizing AIDET (Acknowledge, Introduce, Duration, Explanation, and Thank You) communication framework with patient satisfaction surveys conducted four times a year.
  • Maintaining a multi-disciplinary patient engagement committee to help understand the biggest challenges patients are experiencing and develop strategies to enhance patient ease of access to care data.
  • Learning from other industries. For example, if there is an issue that directly impacts the patient community, provide hospital transparency in communication from the start, as seen with Gerber.
  • Examining at a leadership level what the institution has defined as its desired scope for patient experience efforts, while then asking leaders to personally reflect from the patient perspective how that compares to an individual’s expectations for their own care journey.
  • Determining across the care continuum where discontinuity creates a disjoined care experience. For example, are patients regularly instructed to go to multiple facilities/locations just to get lab work done? Can they preschedule their follow-up care appointments, or do they have to constantly wait and call back and forth for provider sign offs?
  • Emphasizing at the patient-provider interaction level the importance of self-advocacy, encouraging patients to be open in communicating their wants and fears.

According to research from Talkdesk, nearly 70% of patients say poor patient experience will negatively impact their brand loyalty. As Marx noted during his session, "the patient experience is best caught not taught." Healthcare leaders cannot assume they understand the patient experience well. They must constantly ask, "What does the patient really need here?" It’s a continuous learning and observation process, not a once-applied program. Have patient guests share their stories at leadership team meetings. Ask leaders to volunteer in the hospital setting to get a direct, front-row perspective. No patient experience initiative can spread lasting roots without leadership driving it as a cultural phenomenon across the organization as a multi-layer approach.

Stay tuned for additional healthcare leadership insights.

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