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Patient Experience: A Global Opportunity and a Local Solution

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Last week we held the second call of the new Global Patient Experience Network supported by The Beryl Institute. The call included Institute members from eight countries and spread across 18 time zones. Despite our differences in location, time of day, native language or accent, when the conversation started, we discovered that the concepts at the core of improving patient experience are fundamentally the same. Providing the best in experience for patients, families and the communities (and countries) we serve is an unwavering focus for people across healthcare systems and functions around the world.

As I listened to the conversation and we dug deeper in identifying what posed the greatest challenges and offered significant opportunities for improving patient experience, I was struck by the recognition (and even relief) that participants showed in how similar their issues were. One participant offered, "It’s comforting to know we are all contending with the same challenges and questions moving forward,” with a second individual noting, "It is amazing that at the end of the day we are all working towards the same end and facing the same issues.” This realization drew agreement and raised the excitement of the group in understanding that even with great distances between us, there are great similarities and therefore possibilities.

The group identified the same top issues central to patient experience efforts that I have seen in my travels. They included:
  • The importance of organization culture and our ability to manage change in today’s healthcare environment
  • The understanding and effective implementation of patient (and team) interaction processes from patient, physician and staff engagement and involvement to service recovery, post care follow-up and building consumer loyalty
  • The implications of measuring our patient experience efforts to gauge perception and understand the impact of each effort
  • The value of the structure of patient experience practice itself, ensuring a clear focus, supportive leadership, aligned roles and right structures to deliver on the best experience possible

While these are not the extent of the issues faced in addressing patient experience, it was evident that among peers separated by great distance, they still had closely knit similarities. This was especially significant for our team at the Institute as we have always approached our work from the belief that while systems may operate differently and policies might be distinct, the very fundamentals that drive a positive patient experience – the power of interactions, the importance of culture, the reality that perceptions matter and the realization that experience covers the continuum of care – as framed by the definition of patient experience, continues to hold true.

With this great commonality and the excitement generated in the discussion, it was also evident that our members recognized that patient experience is a local, dare I say personal effort. Each and every individual that plays a role along the care continuum has some level of responsibility. It is based on the sum of all interactions, as we suggest, that a patient and their family members gauge their own experience. Therefore in building a patient experience effort, it requires an understanding of your own organization, the people that comprise it, and the community (and demographics) that you serve. Patient experience success is not driven by a one model fits all solution, it is and forever should be something that meets the need of your organization and your patients whether in San Diego or Sydney, New York or New Delhi. Ultimately, patient experience is a global issue, but it is and will continue to be up to each of us locally to bring these grand ideas, the critical practices, and the day-to-day needs to life in every encounter. There is a great opportunity we have been given to move beyond policy to true cause, beyond process to effective practice and beyond "have tos” to "always dos”, that will impact the lives of patients and families globally. I have always suggested it is a choice…I maintain that and hope it is part of all our resolutions for positive and healthy New Year!

In reflecting on the launch of the Global Network and other Institute efforts in 2012, it is clear that this has been an amazing year for our growing global community, with now over 11,000 members and guests in 28 countries focused on improving the patient experience. We have all committed to something noble and important, the best possible experience and the health and well being for our fellow man. And we have been given a great opportunity, to turn a global need into something each and every one of us can impact directly. Happy Holidays to you all and I look forward to continuing to learn and grow together in the year ahead.

Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D.
Executive Director
The Beryl Institute

Related Body of Knowledge courses: History.

Tags:  choice  culture  employee engagement  global defining patient experience  global healthcare  healthcare  improving patient experience  Interaction  patient engagement  Patient Experience  perception  service recovery 

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The Power of Interaction: You are the Patient Experience

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, December 6, 2011

In looking back at 2011, I have touched on a cross-section of topics on the patient experience – from service excellence andanticipation to value-based purchasing and bottom line impact. This year has led us to heightened awareness of the impact performance scores will have on dollars realized and increasing recognition that the patient experience is a priority with staying power. The Beryl Institute’s benchmarking study, The State of Patient Experience in American Hospitals, revealed both the great intentions and significant challenges that are at hand in addressing the critical issue of patient experience.

Our research supports, and I fundamentally believe, that there is a need for a dedicated and focused patient experience leader in every healthcare organization. Yet in the midst of all this attention, we may have overlooked the most important component – the immense power, significant impact and immeasurable value of a single interaction.

What does this mean? Interaction is simply defined as a mutual or reciprocal action or influence. The key is mutual action; something that occurs directly between two individuals. No interaction is the same, but it requires a choice by both parties to engage and respond as they best see fit. In healthcare settings, be it hospitals, medical offices, surgery centers or outpatient clinics, there are countless interactions every day. The question is: are they taken for granted as situations that just occur or are they seen as significant opportunities to impact experience? Perhaps in thinking about experience as a bigger issue, the importance of these moments of personal relationship has been missed.

What this means for improving the patient experience may be simple. Rather than waiting for that one leader to build the right plan or for your culture to develop in just the right way, you each instead recognize one key fact – you are the patient experience. I acknowledge there is a need for a strong leader and a solid cultural foundation on which to build, but at its core patient experience is about what each and every individual chooses to do at the most intimate moment of interaction. If these moments are used as the building blocks to achieve our greatest of intentions, patient experience will be the better for it. As you look to next year, whether you sweep the floors or sit in the c-suite, the choice should be clear. In today’s chaotic world of healthcare, the greatest moment of impact may be in the smallest of encounters. It is here that the most significant successes be they for scores, dollars or care will be realized. Happy holidays to you all!

Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D.
Executive Director
The Beryl Institute
 

Related Body of Knowledge courses: Organizational Effectiveness.

Tags:  bottom line  Continuum of Care  culture  defining patient experience  HCAHPS  improving patient experience  Interaction  Patient Experience  return on service  service anticipation  service excellence  service recovery  value-based purchasing 

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Service Recovery Should be the Exception, Not the Rule…Consider Service Anticipation

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Mind the Gap” is a phrase most often associated with the Tube in London. I hadn’t thought about it before, but in fact these famous words help frame the overall service experience. They remind us to be aware during this critical part of our journey and help us recognize that someone else is being mindful of our experience as well. This raises the question, why do we focus so much of our time on service recovery when we could be focusing on ensuring the best experience from the start? Minding the gap should be about our ability to anticipate our customer’s experience prior to it taking place at all.

This past weekend I passed a sign hanging on a lamppost posted by the city of Edinburgh that immediately caught my eye. It read "We are aware this light is faulty and are working to repair it as soon as possible.” It then provided contact information for further questions. Through the use of a simple yellow sign, a service experience was framed. Here too, it was clear someone was being mindful of the experience.

What do these examples show us? They reinforce the opportunity we have in creating positive patient experiences by anticipating the needs of our patients.

My current On the Road visit is with Inspiration NW, a part of NHS North West in the United Kingdom whose focus is on raising the profile and importance of patient experience (story to be published in the September Patient Experience Monthly). This incredible team has been working on the very issue of actively anticipating patient’s needs versus always reacting to them. One powerful tool they have introduced is Care Cards. Care Cards support patients and their relatives in exploring how the emotional needs and care preferences of patients can best be captured, monitored and addressed in real time as part of a quality-led care experience. The process reduces the sense of anxiousness patients bring to the care setting and ensures a stronger and more proactive approach to addressing a patient’s overall experience. This too serves as an example of anticipating needs, a "mind the gap” moment.

Even with anticipation, there will still be times where service recovery is necessary. The key is to make this the exception, not the rule. I myself have been guilty of espousing giving staff members the freedom to act in addressing service recovery issues without pushing for another freedom; the freedom to act in anticipation of patient needs. If service recovery is about restoring trust and confidence in the ability of an organization to "get it right”, service anticipation is about creating moments where people are wowed by our transparency and understanding of needs and know we will do right for them from the start. By being in action well before recovery is needed we can mind the gaps in service that may arise, instead providing winning moments that ensure a lasting and positive service experience.

Where have you seen or implemented service anticipation? I look forward to seeing your examples.

Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D.
Executive Director

The Beryl Institute

Related Body of Knowledge courses: Service Recovery.

Tags:  improving patient experience  Inspiration North West  NHS  NHS North West  patient  Patient Experience  service anticipation  service excellence  service recovery 

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