Beyond surveys: 3 strategies to enhance patient experience measurement

The metrics of patient experience are continuing to evolve as healthcare systems and the federal government work to accurately measure the experience, satisfaction and engagement of patients. The breadth of these metrics leaves room for supplementary assessments that can be conducted at the individual patient level.

According to Paul Rosen, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at Sidney Kimmel Medical College in Philadelphia, patient insights at the individual level are essential to truly understanding what the patient encounters as they traverse the care system.

Here are three strategies put forth by Dr. Rosen in NEJM Catalyst to better understand the patient experience.

1. Patient shadowing: Following a patient and closely observing their experiences as they move through the care continuum can provide invaluable insights. Dr. Rosen references a program initiated by Anthony DiGioia, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, and his team at the Patient and Family Centered Care Innovation Center at UPMC in Pittsburgh, which followed hip replacement patients from arrival at the hospital through post-operative rehab. Shadowing led to the discovery of a new way to minimize the need for blood transfusion during surgery and revealed that some post-op hip replacement patients had to wait for rides in the rain.

2. Hassle mapping: This strategy involves developing a comprehensive understanding of where inconveniences, disappointments and complications can arise for patients as they move through the care cycle. This method can be applied to several disparate areas of care from the simple scheduling of an outpatient appointment to a visit to the emergency department to the experience of surgery and hospitalization, among others. Identifying frustrations present at different junctures throughout the process may allow certain elements of care to be streamlined and made more convenient.

3. Empathy mapping: Hospitals can employ this strategy while conducting emotional assessments during patient shadowing. The observer can perceive the patient's body language and facial expressions as they experience care. The observer can also ask how the patient is feeling at different intervals in the care experience. The empathy map should include four quadrant layouts posted on a white board or paper. The quadrants should consist of things the patient said and did, and a patient's thoughts and feelings inferred through observation of a patient as they move through care. Insight into a patient's emotions and needs can influence care process redesigns which engage patients in a way that inspires positive emotions.

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