I am writing this blog as we wrap up the 2017 Patient Experience Symposium in Sydney. The event, a collaboration among healthcare and consumer organizations in Australia committed to engaging in and expanding the conversation on patient experience, comes on the heels of an incredible Patent Experience Week where we saw organizations from around the globe celebrating those committed to excellence in patient experience. In that same period, we had the release of the latest issue of Patient Experience Journal (PXJ) that brought together perspectives from around the world and is now read in over 190 countries and territories.
As I reflect on just these last few days, they represent a significant statement about where the patient experience movement is going. They also offer us some perspective on the opportunity we have before us and the efforts we must consider in moving to action overall. The experience movement that bloomed in the last decade and that some called a fad that would soon pass or an idea that would be obscured by shifting policy focus or diluted by competing priorities, instead has found itself expanding with purpose.
As Jane Cummings, CNO England wrote in her commentary in the latest PXJ, “the global dialogue on patient experience will become even more important, as we recognise that despite differences in design and operation, the challenges our health systems face and the focus on what matters most to patients are shared.” This recognition that we are moving to a macro effort, acknowledging the reality of our own individual systemic constraints not as impediments, but perhaps learning points to be leveraged is where opportunity calls us. In looking across systems boundaries and peeling back policy layers, we reveal fundamentals that rest solidly at the heart of the experience conversation. These ideas were reinforced in the latest State of Patient Experience data just released during Patient Experience Conference 2017.
- Experience must remain an integrated focus on quality, safety, service and more. To provide the best in experience and effect positive change, we can no longer force boundaries between these efforts in the face that they are all part of what patients, families and consumers encounter.
- The fastest growing area of focus for organizations in addressing experience is employee engagement. This rapid rise in both recognition of and focus on staff needs in the healthcare ecosystem is fundamental and significant. The idea that we must take care of ourselves to take care of others, is not just motherly advice, but sound strategic thinking in a business where we are human beings caring for human beings.
- In finding employee engagement at the heart of all we do, it is forever intertwined with the engagement of patients and family members as partners in this work, not only in their own care plans, but in the very work we must do to redesign our systems of care, co-design new processes and better understand the needs of those we serve. My visit this last two weeks in Australia and the opportunity to engage with both the consumer councils in New South Wales and Western Australia reinforced the critical point that patients, family and community members are partners in and consumers of care. This idea spans our globe and must be central to any actions we take.
In all that I had the chance to see and learn during my last 10 days in Australia, what was shared over PX Week and is part of the ongoing patient experience conversation, not only are these core ideas central across time zones, there are core practices that follow as well. These include ideas such as the intentional collection of actionable data – both through formal survey methods and now more so in real time to address critical issues and build cases for change, interdisciplinary rounds and bedside shift reports and handoffs, creating formal structures and processes for engaging patients and families on councils, boards and committees and expanding how staff and employees can provide feedback and contribute to improvements.
In finding core ideas and common ground, we must also acknowledge the work of patient experience is not easy work. It is not something we master simply by creating checklists or wrangle with protocols. It is something that requires strategic commitment, an openness to collaboration and sharing and perhaps most of all an acknowledgement that we are all in this effort together. There is a global conversation taking place on patient experience, one focused on creating the best healthcare systems driving the best results on all corners of our globe.
We must now be willing to share wildly and steal willingly in order to learn from one another and improve. That is our greatest and most critical opportunity and one we should not take lightly. We are in a unique and opportune moment in healthcare, for as an industry in serving those in front of us, we can and will bring this world closer. It is a conversation I am honored to be a part of and one I, and I hope each of you, will strive every day to champion.
Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D., CPXP
The Beryl Institute