Driving a standard patient experience — 4 hospital CEOs weigh in

Forbes contributor Robert Reiss spoke with five healthcare CEOs about how they deliver a consistent patient experience at their respective organizations.

Mr. Reiss said he found successful providers all managed to provide patients with an enjoyable experience at their facilities. The leaders — four hospital CEOs and the CEO of a data management solutions company — collectively said doing so promotes patient loyalty, which leads to improvements in the hospital or health system's business and financial prospects.

The four hospital CEOs Mr. Reiss spoke with were:

  • Sandra Fenwick, president and CEO of Boston Children's Hospital
  • Robert C. Garrett, co-CEO of Edison, N.J.-based Hackensack Meridian Health
  • Howard Kern, president and CEO of Norfolk, Va.-based Sentara Healthcare
  • Warner Thomas, president and CEO of New Orleans-based Ochsner Health System

Here's how the four executives responded when Mr. Reiss asked, "What is the key to driving a consistent patient experience across an enterprise?"

Mr. Garrett: "First, you create a common culture, one defined by clear communication and expectations for our team members, patients and their families. Research tells us that patient satisfaction is enhanced when expectations about care and well-being are clearly defined. Patient experience and clinical performance intersect at communication. … For example, we launched Wambi, a digital system powered by real-time feedback. This allows us to immediately remedy patient issues and reward team members for outstanding care. Our pilot was so successful that we are rolling this out network-wide."

Mr. Thomas: "Outstanding patient experience has always been central to the way we practice medicine at Ochsner. Today, patients have higher expectations and are more interested in engaging in their own health and wellness. … With the explosion of digital applications, it is critical that traditional health systems become more innovative in how and where care is delivered. As part of our patient-centered culture, the voice of [the] customer drives our efforts around convenience through online appointments, telemedicine and digital medicine, and enables an opportunity to revolutionize healthcare."

Mr. Kern: "At Sentara Healthcare, we strive to achieve a patient experience that generates lifetime loyalty and value for our patients. We constantly engage with our patients to learn more about how we can exceed their expectations through enhanced access to high-quality, affordable care and personalized service across the continuum. Our leadership team visibly supports patient experience efforts, lays the foundation for continued emphasis on why patient engagement is important, and inspires a culture that empowers employees to enrich the patient experience. Through an interdisciplinary, cross-continuum team, we have established best practices and improvement tools to achieve a high standard across the system."

Ms. Fenwick: "The key to a consistent patient experience is putting ourselves in the shoes of the families we serve. As caregivers, we may not know how it feels to learn that our child has a complex condition, but we all know the frustrations of having our time wasted. Ensuring that our families know their time is important to us is a cornerstone of the Boston Children's experience, which is why we have programs like our Practice Liaisons, who can do all the heavy lifting for schedule multiple appointments and are available after hours, when families have time to call."

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