Viewing the Patient Experience as a Culture Change Rather than as a Campaign

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PSF-thumb1Does your organization view the patient experience as a campaign or is it a critical part of your culture?

That question is derived from a quote by Patrick T. Ryan, chief executive officer of healthcare survey and consulting firm Press Ganey, as related to Jacqueline Fellows in a recent HealthLeaders Media article.

It’s not enough, Ryan said, to adjust the lighting, the noise, or the food. At best, these changes will only work for a short time. What’s required is a “true cultural change that involves hearing ‘the patient’s voice and understanding what they’re experiencing.’”

Get your mind off HCAHPS scores; stop confusing the patient experience with a report card, he challenges. It’s good to have that knowledge, but ultimately, you’re trying to create a value-based environment that supplants fee-for-service. Value is more than a score. It’s a voice.

“The challenge that we face in the next five years is to reduce the cost of healthcare,” Ryan observed. “The only way in which we’re going to do that and improve quality is by incorporating the patient’s voice and the patient’s experience into their care and understanding how we can improve their care.”

It comes down to “a combination of culture and rigor,” Deirdre Mylod, senior vice president of decision analytics and research at Press Ganey, said. “You need that culture where, yes, they understand why patient centeredness is important. But if they’re not using the patient-voice data as the operating data, if they’re not incorporating that with clinical and safety data, then they are well-intentioned, but they are not executing on what their promise is. Conversely, if you have all the rigor of ‘You must do this,’ but you don’t listen to employees and engage them, then you get people who are disenchanted with the mission, so you need that combination to really make things move.”

Fellows writes that “Press Ganey has started to dive deeper into hospital data for its clients, moving toward a census-based survey of all of a hospital’s patients rather than a survey based on a sample size of some patients.” And by all, they mean 100 percent of a hospital’s patients.

Ryan said this makes data more specific, especially in pinpointing trouble areas and figuring out what’s really going on in multiple departments across several floors at any given hospital.

He said, “What we’ve actually found is that organizations that take that fuller level of data and use analytic techniques to understand the effects actually perform better and are improving faster because they are capturing the patient voice, responding to it, and making changes that are improving healthcare.”

What are some ways in which you’re trying to hear your patients’ voices better? How difficult is it to keep your organization focused on the practical necessities of care as opposed to care’s score-driven aspects? How is your organization improving the patient experience?

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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