4 Steps to Move From "Good" to "Great" Patient Experience

In the past five years, hospitals' performance on patient experience has improved dramatically. To continue to improve and sustain high performance, healthcare leaders need to focus on their organization's culture, gain a larger data set and perform advanced analytics, according to a recent Press Ganey report, "Strategic Insights: Targeted Performance Improvement."

Patrick Ryan, CEO of Press Ganey, shares four key ingredients of an improved patient experience. "They're all about
Pat Ryan is CEO of Press Ganey.
Pat Ryan
driving a sustainable culture around patient experience and targeted performance improvement," he says.

1. Redefine patient experience. The first step in moving to the next level of patient experience improvement is understanding that patient experience is more than "happiness" and being treated like a hotel guest. Rather, patient experience is a multifaceted concept including patients' physical, emotional and mental well-being. Under this definition of patient experience, healthcare providers should approach patients with empathy and focus on reducing their anxiety and suffering, from the first phone call to the best possible clinical outcome, according to Mr. Ryan.

Dr. David Costello is chief analytics officer at Press Ganey.
Dr. David Costello
2. Capture all patients' voices. As hospital leaders take a holistic approach to patient experience, they need to hear from all patients, not a small sample that may not reflect the full voice of the patient population as a whole or the sub-populations within specific specialties or units. Hospitals can gain insight from all patients through electronic, census-based surveys, which can double or triple the amount of survey returns that hospitals receive using a traditional mailed, paper form, according to Mr. Ryan. "Census-based surveying gives every patient an opportunity to be heard. Without incorporating [every] patient's voice, it's hard to focus and refine your efforts," he says.

3. Conduct advanced analytics. With access to a large data set, hospitals can identify how different groups of patients' experiences differ by employing data analytics. By drilling down to the patient- and survey question-level, hospitals can develop targeted solutions to increase their overall patient experience scores. "It's taking advantage of big data and advanced analytics to apply a strategic concept at the individual level," says David Costello, PhD, chief analytics officer at Press Ganey.

For example, one hospital used census-based survey data to determine that lower-than-desired patient experience scores were due primarily to one unit — the obstetrics/gynecology unit — and furthermore, that the issue lay with weekend staff. "The client could now look at targeted improvement initiatives; [leaders] could address a particular group instead of training the whole staff," Mr. Ryan says.

4. Build and engage staff in a patient-centered culture.
Driving patient experience to continually higher levels requires a patient-centered culture and an engaged workforce. "It starts with leadership at the top, building a culture of empathy, innovation, change and growth," Mr. Ryan says. Hospital leaders need to demonstrate a commitment to patient experience and include it as a strategic goal. To sustain this patient-centered culture, leaders need to engage staff and physicians in patient experience improvement so interventions are relevant and successful. "Success is dependent upon clinicians being part of the solutions," Mr. Ryan says.

More Articles on Patient Experience:

Trust — At the Core of the Patient Experience
Survey: Distracted Leadership Main Roadblock to Improved Patient Experience

Using Yelp to Attract Patients: 5 Best Practices

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