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The Beryl Institute invites members to submit posts on patient experience related topics. For guidelines and information on submitting a post for consideration, please contact us at info@theberylinstitute.org.

 

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Top tags: patient experience  healthcare  communication  culture  patient  HCAHPS  Leadership  patient engagement  empathy  physician  survey  compassion  perception  physicians  technology  caregiver  community  data  employee engagement  family engagement  healing  Hospital  improving patient experience  collaboration  Consumerism  Expectations  interactions  patient and family engagement  pediatric  person-centered care 

Why You Should Take Online Reviews Seriously

Posted By Tashfeen Ekram, MD, Monday, July 17, 2017
Updated: Monday, July 17, 2017

At the root of it, many physicians fear the impact and the effort it takes to manage online reviews. A Harvard study published this year showed 78 percent of physicians believed engaging with online patient reviews would increase their job stress, while a smaller group believed it would negatively affect the physician-doctor relationship. But in today’s digital world, the importance of online reviews is undeniable. After all, a staggering 77 percent of patients visit review sites before choosing a physician.

Healthcare is a Marketplace, and Patients Have High Standards

With the greater emphasis on smart decisions in today’s consumer-driven world, patients have high expectations before they walk through the door. Patients want to know what the experience is like in your practice. Did they read that the front desk staff was warm, welcoming, and thorough? Did they read how you took fifteen extra minutes to help a patient understand a drug’s side effects? Or how the bedside manner of some of your doctors was lacking? The answers are likely yes.

Patients who trust their doctors are more likely to experience satisfaction with them. Seeing a number of online reviews can help patients develop trust with a physician or practice.  Reading online reviews affirms confidence in your patient’s decision. Feeling empowered is a good start for many patients, especially when placed in a new situation, like visiting a referral specialist. Patients simply want a positive healthcare experience.

It’s Time To Be Intentional About MACRA

With the recent adoption of MACRA, the government is prioritizing quality of care. We hear again and again that the goal of value-based care is to lower healthcare costs while improving healthcare outcomes. An article from the Harvard Business Review states, “We must move away from a supply-driven health care system organized around what physicians do and toward a patient-centered system organized around what patients need.”

Unless all your patients have a very close relationship with you, you won’t always know exactly what your patients need—or where you can improve. Online reviews can show you just where your quality of care may be lacking.

What kind of information are patients looking for in your reviews? A statistic showed that 28 percent of patients searched for a practice’s care quality statistics. Star ratings, other patients’ experiences, and doctor backgrounds followed closely in importance. It seems that like the government, patients are looking for information about the quality of care you provide.

Using Reviews to Your Advantage

Online reviews can impact your practice, reputation, and even your relationship with your patients. While they can be a source of anxiety for some physicians, they can also be a tool to boost patient satisfaction and market your practice.  

According to one statistic, 90 percent of consumers read 10 or more reviews online before trusting a business. It’s simple: the more reviews you have, the more patients will perceive you to be credible and trustworthy. And the more they’ll be at ease when they visit you for the first time.

Of course, there will always come a time when the dreaded negative online review happens. The review may be pointing out an actual area of improvement for your clinic, or even something completely arbitrary and out of your control. However, responding tactfully and professionally to negative reviews is just as important as having positive reviews. After all, the internet’s eyes are watching.  

Additionally, there are a few tools out there that help minimize negative reviews. Luma Health is a patient communication platform, which sends text messages asking patients for feedback after appointments. If patients rate the visit an 8 or above, they get redirected to a review website of your choice (like Yelp, Google, Facebook, Healthgrades, RateMDS). If patients rate the visit 7 or below, they’re directed to a private feedback form that’s sent directly to your clinic. This minimizes public negative reviews, allowing you to address matters with patients directly to make it better.  

No matter what the complaint was, apologize to the patient and thank them for taking the time to leave a review. Then invite them for an offline discussion where you can get a better understanding of what they’re really concerned about. Readers—and the unhappy reviewer—will appreciate the openness, helping you build your transparency.

Tashfeen Ekram, MD, is a radiologist, self-taught coder, healthcare innovator and Co-Founder of Luma Health. Contact him on Twitter at @tashfeenekramMD.

 

Tags:  patient satisfaction  physicians  reviews  transparency 

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The Dichotomy of Patient Experience Messaging

Posted By Justin Bright, M.D., Friday, May 12, 2017
Updated: Monday, May 8, 2017

I have never in my life met a physician who woke up in the morning hoping that his patients hated him. I don’t know of any doctors who want their patients to have a terrible experience in their hospital, emergency department, or clinic. Yet, every time I am at a patient experience conference, the physicians there are seen as unicorns because they are actively engaged in improving patient experience. The question I hear most often from others involved in service excellence is, “how do we get more doctors to act like you?”

A question I ponder often is, if physicians care about the well-being of their patients so much, why are we having such a hard time getting physician buy-in on patient experience initiatives? If the physicians are already halfway there because they inherently deeply about the well-being of their patients, then why is this so hard!?!?!

I think it’s time that we as patient experience professionals engage in some serious introspection about how we are messaging the importance of patient experience to our physicians. What are your goals as a patient experience leader? What are the directives being handed down to you by hospital leadership? Do you want satisfied patients? Or do you want compassionate, empathetic and streamlined care? Are you leading every discussion about patient experience with stats, survey scores and percentiles? Does your health system make the physicians feel like they are terrible at providing a consistent and excellent experience to their patients without acknowledging just how incredibly complex it can be to actually do so? Are you celebrating the physicians who are doing well?

My suggestion is, you need to drop the term “satisfaction” from your vocabulary. That is not what any of us are trying to achieve. “Satisfaction” or mention of survey data makes doctors go insane. There is no partnership there. No inspiration. No buy-in. Just an adversarial relationship that makes physicians feel like leadership just doesn’t get it. Instead, focus on “experience.” Focus on communication. Inspire physicians with stories – using positive reinforcement to recognize the times when a patient’s experience was incredible. Physicians believe in a duty to their patients. The experience a patient has is the only 100% frequency event in our health systems. Care that does not involve compassion, empathy, and communication is not care at all. In my dream scenario, we are never mentioning satisfaction or scores to our doctors. Yes, the surveys need to continue, but should be monitored in the background by service excellence departments. If we engage our doctors, my hope is the rest will take care of itself. 

My fear is that as patient experience continues to evolve, and as the pendulum continues to swing more towards “Patients First,” “All For You,” and other similar mantras, that we will fail to acknowledge just how difficult this endeavor is for our physicians. Sometimes it feels as if everyone is trying to push the patient experience boulder to the top of the mountain, but everyone is pushing in a different direction. If there were a simple solution, we’d all be doing it already. The key to organizational change is for you as a leader to have a clear goal, clearly delineate a path for your physicians to follow, and then you continue to drive them down that path in order to achieve sustainability. As we continue to look at ways to improve the consistency of physician communication and compassion, I also urge patient experience professionals to look within – how consistent and compassionate is your messaging to your physicians?

Justin Bright, M.D. is the Patient Experience Champion at Henry Ford Hospital in the Department of Emergency Medicine.

Tags:  buy-in  data  patient experience  patient satisfaction  physician 

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Turning Lemons into an Excellent Patient Experience

Posted By Diana B. Denholm, Ph.D., Monday, December 2, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Reading Dr. Wolf’s Patient Experience blogs, we learn the importance of involvement in order to achieve excellence, that patients are partners and that we are the patient experience. Whether we’re actually the patient, or part of family or professional care teams, we all make up the patient experience. While instituting change may be arduous, if we see a problem, I believe it’s our responsibility to try to do something about it. We need to get involved and propel that move toward excellence – even if life has thrown lemons at us – or maybe because it has.

In 1999 my husband, John, received a heart transplant at a major teaching hospital. While in intensive care, he was intubated and was put in hand restraints so he couldn’t pull out the tube. Although it was still within his reach, his nurse call button was broken. Although the walls around him were glass, his charts were taped to the window blocking all view of his face. Then something went wrong - and he started choking. He was in distress, frightened and in danger - and he couldn’t get anybody’s attention to help him. Here in one of the finest teaching hospitals in the world, my husband had no way to signal for assistance. It was horrible for him.

I’ll never forget how panicked he was when I came into his room and discovered this inexcusable circumstance. I’ll never forget how appalled and angry I was that this had happened to my Darling John! What a horrific patient experience!

Once out of danger, he was given a piece of paper with the alphabet on it and told to point to letters to spell out what he wanted to say. This ridiculous method was infuriating. Yet, any time you or your loved ones are hospitalized, you face the possibility of encountering similar frustrating, frightening and dangerous circumstances because patient communication methods are often sorely inadequate. This shouldn’t happen to you, nor to those you love and care about.

Rather than citing the hospital for negligence, I did something more constructive and more important. I invented a patient concierge system to help every hospitalized person, you and your loved ones, have a better and safer patient experience.

Of course you want to have your loved ones close when you are ill, and loved ones want to be close to you. Yet visits aren’t always allowed. My secretary had a heart attack and was hospitalized for several months. Because she had a trach tube, written notes were her only form of communication. She was in a long-term relationship, but her gentleman friend was not allowed to visit because he wasn’t a relative – thus creating a greatly diminished patient experience for her. Picture your cell phone and computer in 1999 and you’ll quickly remember how difficult it was to communicate with anyone – even if you could get cell service. So, technology didn’t even provide a serviceable option. As a board certified medical psychotherapist, I know these loving interactions are crucial to a compassionate experience and to creating the most beneficial healing environment.

Instead of focusing just on the needs of the professional care team, which was the norm for hospitals for many years, the focus desperately needed to be shifted to patient-family centered care practices providing direct access links to care staff, support services, food services, and family and visitors. Though it’s taken many years since this 1999 incident, we’ve seen the tide begin to turn making the patient experience and patient satisfaction so fundamental that reimbursements are now linked to them. Patient partnering and involvement are what turned that tide toward an excellent patient experience.

Diana B. Denholm, Ph.D., an internationally recognized caregiving expert, is the inventor of myPAL™ – Patient Access Links and the author of The Caregiving Wife’s Handbook (www.caregivingwife.com) which is endorsed by the AARP, National Council on Aging and Mental Health America. She currently writes for Psychology Today, Stroke Network, PBS and a variety of print publications. She may be reached at dianadenholm@gmail.com.

Tags:  caregiver  communication  interactions  patient centered care  patient experience  patient satisfaction 

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