Achieving sustainable success through employee and patient experience

The importance of patient and employee experience in healthcare has never been greater.

 During an April Becker's Hospital Review podcast sponsored by NRC Health, Susan Armbruster, business development executive at NRC Health, and Joan Cox, chief experience officer at Yuma Regional Medical Center in Arizona, discussed why integrating patient and employee experience programs makes strategic and business sense and what steps hospitals and health systems can take to achieve greater unity.

Three key insights were:

  1. An experience strategy focused jointly on patients and employees is critical for long-term organizational success. Traditionally, patient experience programs have tended to "live" under the care quality domain, separate from employee experience programs. This separation has deterred achieving a unified vision of improving the human experience in healthcare settings.

    To change this dynamic, many hospitals have created the role of chief experience officer; some are now elevating that role to the C-suite.

    "My job is to collaborate excessively with the rest of the organization, with the understanding that if we are not truly caring for our staff and providers, we are not able to truly support the patient community," Ms. Cox said. "If we are going to measure patient experience and hold people responsible for it, then we'd better be providing the resources and tools to help employees achieve their best practice."

  2. Leaders must strike a balance between the priorities of value-based care and its impact on employee experience. A growing number of organizations are adopting value-based care models, which put a high premium on patient experience due to its impact on health outcomes. Yet, achieving high-quality patient experience is challenging if organizations are too focused on keeping costs down — another priority for value-based care models.

    Investing in programs and practices that improve the employee experience is a way to find that balance because it helps keep clinicians connected to their purpose. That in turn positively affects the patient experience, reduces costs associated with burnout and turnover, and improves clinical metrics.

  3. Following best practices for employee engagement can ensure program sustainability. At the frontline/care delivery level, one approach organizations can take is sharing patient feedback. This can go a long way toward boosting morale for providers and staff, but is often overlooked by administrators, even as they frequently solicit feedback through patient surveys.

    Monitoring patient sentiment through non-conventional channels is another best practice. "That might mean managing, responding and acting on online reviews and social media — a voice that you may not be capturing through traditional patient experience survey methods," Ms. Armbruster said.

    At the leadership level, yet another best practice is to check back regularly with clinical teams and make sure their voices are heard and included in decision-making processes. "It's really about leveraging all platforms to listen and act on what your [patient and provider] community's needs and expectations are," Ms. Armbruster concluded.

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