How to drive compassion in the patient experience: 4 insights on 'never events' from CareMount Medical's Kevin Conroy 

From patient communication gaps to questioning their perceptions of care, hospitals and health systems should consider eliminating various "never events" to enhance their overall patient experience, according to Kevin Conroy, chief population health officer of CareMount Medical. 

Mr. Conroy, who also serves as CFO of the Mount Kisco, N.Y.-based health system, told Becker's Hospital Review that despite healthcare's evolution into a business, "the heart of it will always be driving a compassionate human experience." Crafting a successful patient experience relies on listening to patients' feedback and providing quality customer service, he added.  

Here, Mr. Conroy describes four patient experience 'never events' health systems should eliminate.  

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length. 

1. Questioning and judging the patient or customer's perception. For the most part, patients find it difficult to judge the quality of providers' clinical decision making, and most do not understand the nuances of the healthcare landscape. Therefore, we must focus on what they understand: quality customer service. Customer service is the differentiator because patient perception of our services is formed by competition, healthcare norms, social norms and most importantly how consistent we are in our behaviors to meet their needs. We need to eliminate questioning their perception, as it is their personal account of their experience through their lens. 

2. Inconsistencies in patient communication, including lack of sharing of patient response. Large healthcare organizations easily fall into silos and fail to track and trend the output of patient communication across all functional departments. We focus on integrating communication channels, with specific populations of patients such as Medicare patients or orthopedic patients. By studying, sharing successful strategies for standardizing throughout the system the various types of patient communications and ultimately patient action or response, we can internally build a successful database for our care teams and management to create personable, lasting impressions and a purposeful, patient-initiated experience. 

3. Delay in capturing and aggregating valuable patient feedback, even with small numbers. Capturing patient experiences, perceptions and stories shortly after engagement and aggregating their qualitative feedback can drive powerful evidence-based data, which ultimately yields positive returns. It is equally important to not minimize feedback from smaller, minimum-size cohorts as these cohorts represent the larger group that isn’t speaking up. While healthcare is becoming a business, the heart of it will always be driving a compassionate human experience, and the first step is to listen.

4. Ignoring employee feedback on what is and isn’t working well with your patient experience strategy. Employees are the front lines and in the trenches with patients. Creating a culture of trust by pushing the envelope of transparency in two-way communication and information sharing is key. When employees feel part of improving the patient experience process, they feel more ownership to deliver positive patient outcomes. When employees feel they are connected to your mission of serving patients, your patients feel that connection. Happy employees equal happy patients.

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