These cracks signal your system's patient experience is about to break

Morgan Haefner - Print  | 

Patient experience has taken on a whole new meaning during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Typical challenges like a lack of care-coordination and confusing bills persist, but a new emphasis on ensuring patients feel comfortable returning to hospitals has become paramount. There is no doubt chief experience officers and marketing leaders have faced distinct challenges in this new reality.

Hospital executives discussed this topic and more during a session on fixing breaks in the patient experience at the Becker's Patient Experience + Marketing Virtual Event Sept. 2. The panel included:

Here is an excerpt from the conversation, lightly edited for clarity. To view the full session on demand, click here

Question: What does it mean for an organization's patient experience to break? What are the warning signs that signal something is not as it should be? 

Chris Brainard: It starts with what the patients and the families are feeling when they engage with the institution. How you are perceived in the community has a lot to do with the way your team treats the patient and the family when they enter the organization. You need to ask yourself: What are the friction points? How much effort does the patient have to put in to actually access the care that they need? Many times, when patient experience is breaking, it's because of an unengaged team and organization.

Lindsay Caulfield: I agree with Chris — we've got to focus on employees. In addition, we all have data collection technologies. We see our scores and the comments in patient experience surveys, but at that point, there's already a lag in the data. We have to get real-time data. We're looking at new technologies that allow us to get real-time data so service recovery can happen immediately. Once we start to see key themes in certain units or departments, or even systemwide, we have a greater opportunity to stop that break before it happens.

Alan Dubovsky: I agree with both Chris and Lindsay. To add on to what they said, when an organization becomes convinced they don't need to listen to the patient voice anymore, it's usually a sign that the patient experience is about to break. That's usually the kiss of death for patient experience. You become so sure that you don't listen anymore. But the patient voice evolves often. If you start hearing, "Oh, we know. We've done this. We don't need to listen anymore. We know exactly what our patients want," I would get nervous.

More articles on patient experience:
Moving toward a 'new normal': How hospitals are convincing patients it's safe to come back
Cleveland Clinic's CXO: 4 important promises to patients
Lehigh Valley Hospital apologizes after patients report meal delays

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