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The Power of Partnerships: Unifying Patients Relations and Patient Experience

Posted By Sarah Fay, MBA, Friday, March 10, 2017
Updated: Friday, March 10, 2017

We can all agree that in order to have a well-rounded view of patient experience, we cannot look solely at the information that comes back to us in our patient experience surveys – they are just one piece of a larger puzzle that make up an organization’s culture. And culture is what drives the experience…for everyone. I believe that we must look at data from several vantage points. Some of these, include: 

  • patient experience surveys
  • employee engagement surveys
  • physician engagement surveys
  • information gathered during executive and leader rounding
  • patient stories
  • key human resource metrics
  • feedback from our patient and family advisory councils
  • quality and safety data.

If we leave one vantage point out, we risk losing the complete picture. And this picture must include patient relations data as well.

I oversee patient experience for Southwest General Health Center, a long-standing 354-bed community hospital in Middleburg Heights, Ohio. Last year, we merged our patient relations department with our patient experience department. Unifying these departments has not only helped me in my work – it has benefited our patients too.

The richness of the data collected by our patient representative is invaluable to developing and executing our patient experience strategy. By combining our patient relations data with our patient experience data, we have a well-rounded view of our patients’ perceptions. Trending our patient relations data is key to this.

  1. Trends helps us determine where we need to focus our efforts. The trends in concerns and complaints bring to light an area that we have an opportunity in, while the trends in compliments bring to light an area we can celebrate. When we combine these trends with our patient experience survey data, we are better able to prioritize our strategies, programs and celebrations.

  2. Trends help us pinpoint areas that need additional support. When we combine these trends with our patient experience survey data, I am able to hone in on areas, departments, units or individuals that may need specific training or one-on-one coaching. It also tells me where we need to focus our process improvement efforts. The trends in compliments show me areas, department, units or individuals that I can rely on to champion the cause. Those people can then help train and coach others.

  3. Trends help us conclude if the initiatives we have put in place on the front-end are working. Combining the patient experience survey data with the trends of both compliments and complaints, tells me if our programs and initiatives are having the intended outcomes. 

Our partnership extends beyond the data too. Our patient representative has a very unique skillset – one that I hope to transfer to the bedside through a robust service recovery program at Southwest General. With her distinctive skillset, she can help develop a program, train our staff and teach them how to embrace the skills necessary to handle concerns and complaints right at the bedside. This will shift her into a more proactive role and I believe that is the wave of the future.  

Sarah Fay, MBA, is the Director of Guest Experience at Southwest General Health Center in Middleburg Heights, Ohio. She may be reached at sfay@swgeneral.com

Tags:  data  engagement  partnership  patient experience  patient relations  surveys 

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