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The Beryl Institute Patient Experience Blog
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Exploring the Value of Patient Experience

Posted By Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D., Tuesday, July 5, 2016

In my most recent Patient Experience Blog I suggested we are now entering the Experience Era, offering eight considerations we should act on to not only usher in its arrival, but also support its place at the heart of our healthcare conversation. At the same time, we are seeing in all corners of healthcare and all touchpoints across the care continuum that the conversation on healthcare is dramatically shifting. Beyond a simple acknowledgement of the rise of consumerism in healthcare there is a more fundamental commitment to a focus on experience and all that encompasses.

Even with a much clearer and measurable focus on experience, we still are in our infancy in identifying and measuring key points of value that are realized in efforts to drive the best in experience. Yet, I believe we can say with some confidence that experience efforts, when approached with the requisite breadth and depth, have a significant influence on the outcomes we look to achieve – both in clinical practice across quality, safety and service and in broader operational results – including clinical and financial outcomes and consumer loyalty and community reputation.

With that recognition, we are excited to open a global inquiry into what people see as the value in a focus on experience overall. Our hope with this exploration is to understand the motivations, actions, impact and outcomes associated with a focus on patient experience. As part of this inquiry we are also looking to identify the proven practices being implemented to address patient experience excellence from the perspective of not only healthcare organizations, but also consumers of healthcare, be they patients, family members or other support networks. I invite and encourage you to participate.

Respondents will be asked to provide thoughts from a primary perspective – that of a patient or family member or member of a support network, that of a healthcare team member, or that of a healthcare leader/administrator – but are invited (and encouraged) to provide insights from the other perspectives they may bring to the conversation. This is critical to reinforcing that all voices matter and in healthcare many actually engage with multiple voices. Through this exploration, incorporating this range of perspectives will help us identify commonalities and distinctions in how people both approach and evaluate patient experience and will allow us to frame a broader picture of how value is perceived.

I believe, as I have seen on our journey in expanding the patient experience conversation these last few years via The Beryl Institute, that we must be willing to ask the big questions and dig into the critical issues that will continue to create the greatest opportunities for healthcare globally. As the experience movement grows we must be rigorous in reinforcing value, committed to continuing to push the edges of our efforts and willing to engage with one another in the topics that will help us to focus with intent on all that is right in healthcare. It is through these efforts that patient experience has found its place at the heart of healthcare overall.

I invite and encourage you to participate and to share this inquiry with your peers and networks. The survey itself should take about 5 minutes to complete and includes 3 open comment questions to answer so respondents can provide the full extent of their thoughts. A report of the findings will be presented this fall and respondents can sign up to get special updates on the survey. You can start the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ValueofPX.

Thank you in advance for your perspective, but more so thank you for your commitment to this movement and to this effort to ensure the experience era in healthcare continues to grow for many years to come.

 

Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D.
President
The Beryl Institute

Tags:  Consumerism  Continuum of Care  exploration  inquiry  invitation  journey  movement  outcomes  patient experience era  perspective  survey  value 

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Patient Experience and the Freedom of Choice

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, July 2, 2013

In writing a blog for a US-based, global organization on the week of July 4th, I am hard pressed not to think about the concepts of independence, of freedom and of what those concepts provide for. To be independent, to be of free will, is something most, if not all, aspire to. It is ingrained in our human nature, for at its base is an idea so simple, yet at times so complex – the power of choice. For me this concept of choice is the essence of patient experience itself.

When I talk to people about the strategies and tactics of patient expedience improvement, I start with the simple recognition that what we do in healthcare - as human beings caring for human beings– is about the choices we make. From leaders guiding organizations on what priorities are set each day, to frontline caregivers across healthcare settings we are making choices in every moment, not just on what care to deliver, but how to deliver it as well.

This power of choice is profoundly important, and of increasing influence in our healthcare systems today. While we once may have gone directly to our local physician or hospital and listened intently with respect, following every word and instruction, the nature of healthcare itself has changed. I know to some this poses a great concern and others even disdain. For me, it reveals the true potential for excellence we have in healthcare systems around the world.

The debate has long simmered on if patients are customers of care. Using this term allows supporters of the historic healthcare hierarchy to diminish the very voice of patients, most often unintentionally. And you may be surprised to hear that I agree. Patients for the most part in healthcare today are not the customers of care. Customers are those individuals or organizations that choose to pay for a product of service. In fact following this logic, most often, insurance companies and/or government entities are the true customers of healthcare as they are the one’s directly funding services or paying the bill.

What does this mean then for our choice as patients? While many rightly make the argument, that as patients we do not choose to fall ill, have an accident, etc., that is we do not most often choose to be customers of healthcare, we overlook what I suggest above – that as human beings we still have choice. This distinguishes to me where patient experience plays it most significant role, especially economically. Patients are without question consumers of healthcare, regardless of systems, locality or structures. From an economic perspective it is the consumer who drives markets and influences business viability. Consumerism is the consideration that the free choice of individuals strongly influences what is offered to a market, what grows and what is overlooked. Therefore consumers and the choice they bring have strong economic impact.

The bottom line is that as patients have independence, even with some constraints based on insurance or in governmental healthcare systems, and therefore they have choice. Patients will note where the experience – the culmination of quality, safety and service – is best. And they wont keep it secret. Outside of the increasing use of government surveys globally to measure and publicly report performance, other consumer outlets are quickly booming – have you yelped your physician’s office lately, or seen the dialogue on Facebook about the care in your local hospital? This is consumerism at its finest and it is having great impact.

Patients have discovered they too have choice in the system, to not just expect, but to directly ask for and seek the best care they can find. Yes, patients do not choose a healthcare encounter like they would a hotel or an entertainment experience, they actually do so MORE significantly because this choice is about their own or a family member or friend’s well-being. A dear colleague, an inspiration for patients as true consumers of care, and a contributor to our Voices of Patients and Family paper – "e-Patient Dave” deBronkart clearly expresses the need for us as patients and family to choose to engage in our care, in ensuring we are fully informed and in doing so make the right choices.

I too am reminded about a story a gentlemen shared once with me about his 80-year old mother who when finding she needed hip replacement, scoured the internet for information on the procedure, recovery times, outcomes, etc. She discovered, that while scheduled for surgery at her local hospital (where she had gone for years), there was a better place for her to have her surgery in another state a plane ride away. She booked the ticket, made the trip and had her surgery. Now while all patients choices may not be that extreme, we must acknowledge that we all have choice – in some ways it is all we have – in how we decide to deliver care or on where we decide to receive it.

On a week where independence is held high, it is important that we remember it is not just a holiday in the United States, but a statement about the very freedom we have as individuals, as consumers: the freedom to choose. The Declaration of Independence declared that individuals "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” There may be no stronger place for us to remember these choices than in the decisions affecting our health. As healthcare leaders we must remember this, as caregivers honor it, and as patients and families never forget – the choice is truly ours.

 

Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D.
President
The Beryl Institute

Related Body of Knowledge courses: Metrics and Measurement.

Tags:  Choice  Consumerism  culture  Customer  Customer Service  Freedom  Hospitality  improving patient experience  Interaction  Patient Experience  service excellence  voice 

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