New era of 'patients as partners': Q&A with NewYork-Presbyterian's Rick Evans

Rick Evans, senior vice president of patient services and chief experience officer at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, talks about the difficulties of integrating patient experience best practices into caregiver workflow; using technology to meet patient expectations and the steps NewYork-Presbyterian plans to improve patient and provider experience this year.

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

Question: What is the No. 1 challenge facing healthcare chief experience officers? How do you plan to tackle it?

Rick Evans: Helping to integrate patient experience-related tactics and best practices into the real workflow of our caregivers remains the biggest challenge. This is the only way to achieve the stability and consistency in experience that our patients and families want and that we are always striving for. Successful improvement in patient experience depends on our work not being a 'bolt on' but a core part of the work already being done. When we achieve this integration, we see sustained improvement in experience as well as increased engagement of staff. But it's actually very difficult to achieve and maintain this critical balance.

Q: What are some of untapped opportunities to improve patient experience?

RE: One is that we still need to find better ways to harness the insight of patients and families in our work to make care more human-centered. We are only now emerging from an era of 'patients as advisers' to 'patients as partners.' This requires investment in time and resources to really make it work. The return you get from this work is directly related to what you invest in it.

Another is that technology and innovation are also just beginning to be tapped in ways that make both patient and caregiver experience better. We are in a time where the opportunities to integrate rather than just implement technology are really being explored, particularly in how technology helps us connect with each other and close communication loops. Technology can also help us go beyond addressing just 'satisfaction' to meeting patients' expectations and preferences.

Q: What are some key goals you hope to accomplish before the end of the year?

RE: We are implementing a new enterprise-wide EMR beginning soon. This is a great step forward for us — and we want to be ready for this change. So, we are doing a lot of work to help facilitate this journey — for both our patients and our caregivers.

We are starting up an entirely new access improvement initiative that is aligned and integrated with our core patient experience work. This is a really exciting effort that is allowing us to work more closely with our medical schools and mobilize new areas of the organization in our work.

We are taking great steps in the area of advocacy connected with patient experience — working with policymakers to refine and perfect patient experience measurement and reporting. The advent of measures like HCAHPS were good for raising the profile and importance of experience, but, it's time for an update. As consumerism takes hold in the healthcare sector, new measures and approaches are needed.

Q: How do you see the role of the chief experience officer evolving in the healthcare field over the next five years?

RE: Over the last 10 to 15 years, a true body of knowledge has been developed regarding patient experience — what it is and how to really move the needle. CXOs bring this knowledge in a strategic way to organizations. As the body of knowledge evolves, CXOs will become even more valuable strategic partners for their organizations. As consumerism and technology innovation take hold, CXOs are also becoming valuable guides for our organizations in transforming our care for the future. I think the CXOs and CXO roles that are most effective are the ones where this true strategic base and focus are in place.

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