We should stop talking about patient experience.
I know, I know. Triple Aim, etc. Let me explain.
A couple weeks back I had a call with some colleagues, all much smarter than me, who are on a mission to dramatically improve the way we experience care. Now, for those of you how know me well, I travel frequently and am intensely passionate about high quality customer service. But those experiences I rave about are restaurants or hotels (infrequently an airline, never a rental car). Admittedly, I “pay for that service,” which I put in quotes because, though there is some truth to that, what I’m actually paying for is a nice room or a great meal. It’s just that those businesses know that a nice room or a great meal, without commensurate service, is neither nice nor great.
We sometimes use the excuse that healthcare is complex, or that in a very large system, the number of people who focus on experience is small. I’m going to call shenanigans. You think a boutique hotel has a huge customer experience staff? What about a phenomenal restaurant I visited recently, Six Test Kitchen, with a grand total of four employees? It’s not that they have a team dedicated to creating experience. It’s that the whole team is dedicated to experience.
We measure patient experience in healthcare by asking if the consumer had their medications explained and if they understand their care. That’s like asking if the steak was cooked to their liking but not asking how they were treated by the maître d’. Experience is colored by every interaction.
So I look to the collective wisdom here: how do we change the mindset of staff, who throughout school are taught the devil-details of diagnoses but not the intricacies of interactions? How do we – not with technology, but with heart – be human at every point?
I have some ideas, but I’d love to hear yours.
Patrick Woodard, MD, is Chief Digital Officer at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, having previously held the role of CMIO at Renown Health. To view his LinkedIn profile, click here.
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