Unlocking Outstanding Patient Experiences: Advice from a Former Bedside Nurse
As a nurse with a passion for leveraging data to impact patient experiences and outcomes for the past 15 years, I’ve seen firsthand how essential it is for organizations to understand what patient experience truly encompasses. It’s more than just a single encounter with a provider; it’s a series of interactions and impressions that patients develop throughout their healthcare journey.
Patient experience includes communication with healthcare providers, access to care, the physical environment of healthcare facilities, emotional support, and the overall standard of care. Positive patient experiences foster trust and understanding, better health outcomes, increased patient satisfaction, and can reduce healthcare costs.
Understanding the whole patient is the first step in providing exceptional patient experience. Beyond medical records, it means actively listening to their concerns, understanding their unique needs, and considering their cultural, emotional, and social factors. This holistic approach fosters trust, personalized care, and improved outcomes, ensuring a truly exceptional healthcare experience.
Better understand the whole patient by incorporating this data:
1. Patient Feedback Loops: Implement feedback mechanisms to capture patient experiences at varying points of service throughout the patient’s journey. Utilizing specific, short, easy to use surveys with minimal clicks can increase response rate and provide robust feedback. (2)
2. Experienced-Based Co-design: Work with both patients and staff to hear stories and understand high and low emotions at key touch points. Hearing directly from former patients about what most impacted them allows staff to identify distinct areas for improvement during the patient journey and drives strategic process interventions based on direct patient reflection. (3)
3. Electronic Medical Record (EMR): With patient experience defined by The Beryl Institute as “the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care” (4) you can use the information you already have in your EMR to build out a clearer picture. Leverage current data to its full potential to determine appropriate points of contact and gain a view of experiences across the care continuum.
4. Demographics and Social Determinants of Health (SDoH): It is essential to know you are obtaining a sample size that truly reflects your patient population. Incorporating demographics and SDoH data into your analysis helps you understand and meet the needs of all your patients, personalize interactions, and remove barriers to care.
Prioritize these recommendations to shape outstanding patient experiences:
1. Personalize Care: Incorporate an individual’s unique cultural and social needs, as well as their preferences and values. This will greatly impact their experience when involving them in decision-making. In a reoccurring outpatient setting, like physical therapy, you might do this through periodic surveying that helps you better understand where you are hitting or missing the mark in your patient encounters. Asking transparent questions that don’t shy away from patient backgrounds or needs allows you to dig deeper.
2. Prioritize Communication and Engagement: Engage in meaningful conversations with patients. Taking just five minutes with a patient, sitting down at their level, and ensuring they have a comprehensive understanding of the diagnoses, treatment option, or preventative measure can go a long way in improving trust and ultimately bettering their overall health. Sitting down with a patient is shown to give the impression of longer time spent at the bedside because the provider does not seem rushed to step away. (1)
3. Meaningful Interactions: Using Experience-based Co-design (EBCD) where staff work alongside patients to identify and prioritize areas for improvement. Using the information gathered can guide the development of strategies to enhance the physical environment, staff training, and improve overall service quality. EBCD has been shown to work in both single site and across the entire patient journey through multiple touchpoints. (3)
In the realm of patient experience, engaging a diverse range of voices across the care continuum in the quality data will be the compass to guide healthcare providers toward excellence. It empowers organizations to deliver personalized, timely, and efficient care while ensuring patient safety and satisfaction. To truly unlock the potential of quality data, healthcare systems must overcome challenges, invest in technology, and foster a culture of data-driven decision-making. In doing so, we can create a healthcare landscape where every patient, regardless of their background, receives the high-quality, personalized care they deserve, ultimately leading to healthier lives and brighter futures.
- Golden, B.P., Tackett, S., Kobayashi, K. et al. Sitting at the Bedside: Patient and Internal Medicine Trainee Perceptions. J GEN INTERN MED 37, 3038–3044 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-021-07231-4
- Gowda, N.R, Wankar, A., Arya, S., Vikas, H., Narayanan, N., Linto, C.P. (2020). Feedback System in Healthcare: The Why, What and How. International Journal of Marketing Studies. 12. 52. 10.5539/ijms.v12n1p52.
- Raynor, D. K., Ismail, H., Blenkinsopp, A., Fylan, B., Armitage, G., & Silcock, J. (2020). Experience-based co-design-Adapting the method for a researcher-initiated study in a multi-site setting. Health expectations : an international journal of public participation in health care and health policy, 23(3), 562–570. https://doi.org/10.1111/hex.13028
- Wolf JA, Niederhauser V, Marshburn D, LaVela SL. Defining Patient Experience. Patient Experience Journal. 2014; 1(1):7-19. doi: 10.35680/2372-0247.1004.
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