Limiting Patient Suffering: The Key to Patient-Centered Care

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To become a patient-centered industry, healthcare must focus on understanding and alleviating patient suffering instead of merely improving patient satisfaction, according to Press Ganey CEO Patrick T. Ryan and a new Press Ganey strategic insights report.

"Across healthcare, there is an undeniable drive to advance the quality and safety of care," Mr. Ryan said in a news release. "By reducing patient suffering, we can revolutionize the way we approach the patient experience to provide truly better care."

The goal of provider organizations should be to eliminate avoidable suffering — any time a patient experiences fear, anxiety or stress related to healthcare delivery dysfunction — and mitigate suffering that is inherent to a diagnosis and/or treatment of an illness, according to the report.

"There is a care coordination crisis," Mr. Ryan said in an interview. Outcomes may be great, but the process often produces panic, causing otherwise avoidable patient suffering. Causes of avoidable suffering can range from not being able to make an appointment in a timely manner to being subjected to redundant procedures.

To lessen this effect, he said, care needs to be constructed through the eyes of the patient. "Patients have the clearest view of what's happening the hospital," he said, so incorporating their voice into the care design discussion is paramount.

The report outlines three key areas where analytics can be used to help organizations identify sources of patient suffering: system-based analysis, physician performance analysis and physician/employee engagement analysis.

"By understanding sources of suffering and using system-level, physician-level and cultural analyses to pinpoint performance deficits, healthcare providers can implement targeted improvement efforts that  reduce suffering and improve the patient experience," the report states.

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