Healthcare Experience Blog

“Patient Experience” is Now a Worldwide Phenomenon

Seven years ago, a dedicated group of 200 passionate professionals gathered in a small hotel ballroom in Dallas. It was, in many senses, the beginning of a journey; a journey towards understanding, measuring, and improving the experience that patients and their families have in their encounters with hospitals. It was the first conference under the direction of Jason Wolf, the newly-appointed head of an organization with an unusual name, The Beryl Institute.

Next week, in Denver, over 1,000 people from more than a dozen countries will gather to participate in The Beryl Institute’s annual conference, once again collectively focusing on the “patient experience,” which reflects the mission and activities of the Institute.

Yet, these battle-tested folks are just the tip of spear.

In less than a decade, the rather revolutionary idea has taken hold. It’s the notion that the patient should be the true focus of the healthcare system, rather than too often prioritizing patient needs beneath meeting the needs of doctors, hospital administrators, or the distant parent company.

Yes, healthcare professionals will tell you that they go into healthcare in order to serve and help patients. But as they get into organizations, they often find that such a pure intent gets bogged down by insurance authorizations, cumbersome internal processes, and administrators focused on the bottom line. So nudging an entire ship the size of a modern healthcare system toward a true “patient-centric” focus has not been a task for the weak of heart.

There has been great progress—worldwide—in this endeavor. As the people at the meeting will find and confirm for each other, the concept of providing a great patient experience has been nudged along by leaders with visionary intent, spurred onward by government-required surveys and incentivized by financial rewards. At the heart of it all though, it comes back to the clinicians and all the staff who support them, as they change long-held beliefs and behaviors.

Results from the largest study to date of what healthcare organizations worldwide are doing to improve the patient experience will be spotlighted at the beginning of the conference, then subsequently made available to anyone with an interest. This study, done every two years since 2011, is a partnership between The Beryl Institute and Catalyst Healthcare Research.

This year’s results will show what’s driving progress toward patient experience improvements—and the roadblocks that are still major obstacles. It will show the critical importance of engaging physicians, staff, AND patients/family members in the care process. And it will show that health system boards are paying attention, and in many cases, actively endorsing the change that is underway.

It’s an exciting time to be part of such transformational change—and to be able to document and share the idea that Patient Experience is now seen by many as a singular concept that encompasses patient quality, safety, service, and outcomes.

For more information: www.TheBerylInstitute.org

Even Political Conservatives Agree Government has Role in Keeping People Healthy

In a new national survey of over 1,000 individuals, we learned that even those Americans who describe themselves as political conservatives agree with their liberal counterparts that both local and federal government have some kind of role to play in keeping people healthy.

We conducted this study in concert with ndp, a national ad agency based in Richmond, VA. We used a combination of online and telephone surveying modes to reach as broad an audience as possible.

The results showed that even among conservatives, 74% said that there is some role for the federal government in population health initiatives, and 77% felt that local government has a role.

When we drilled into the findings, it was clear that strong differences do exist, depending on whether a person sees themselves as politically conservative, liberal, or independent. In general, the more “liberal” the person, the more likely they are to support actions by government–such as providing free health screenings or adopting health-related taxation policies on tobacco use or sugary drinks.

One of the few areas of close agreement among both conservatives and liberals was the idea of providing funding for health education in public schools.

Intriguingly, we learned that many things already being funded or done by government today do not earn a very high level of endorsement, even among liberals. Perhaps it’s an indication of the widespread dissatisfaction with the large institutions in this country, including government.

Here are a few specifics taken from our study called “A Consumer Perspective on Population Health.”

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About This Study

This study was conducted in summer 2016. A total of 1,004 individuals ages 18 and over participated. Telephone surveying was conducted by Wilkins Research, and online sample was provided by Research Now. The margin of error for the full set of results is +/- 3.1%.

Just How Important is Nursing Staff Responsiveness, Really?

Anecdotally, we’ve all heard or even experienced what happens in a hospital when there is a breakdown in nursing staff responsiveness, communication, and coordination of care.

In a recent study for Amplion Clinical Communications, we documented the types of things that can and do happen when nursing team members fail to respond in a reasonable period of time to patient requests. These included:

• Messy and embarrassing accidents when patients can’t get to the restroom on their own

• Disastrous falls when immobile patients try to get up by themselves

• Dangerous blood sugar levels when diabetics do not receive food or drink in a timely manner

• Patients left in pain without any reassurance that help is coming

And we heard what kind of feelings these negative experiences evoke:

• Anxiety

• Frustration

• Fear

• Anger

• Disappointment

Is this happening all the time and in every hospital? Of course not. But based on our survey of 1,000 patients and loved ones, we can say that around 30% of individuals are NOT receiving the level of care and responsiveness that they expected when they entered the hospital. And we have documented the impact this all has on their willingness to recommend the hospital.

See for yourself. This infographic provides the highlights.

Your Hospital’s Toughest Customer May NOT be a Patient!

With all the attention given to the “patient experience” during the past five years, many hospital managers and staff have rightly turned their attention toward doing a better job of caring for the patient, in all senses of that word.

But a piece of research we recently conducted makes a pretty convincing case that the toughest consumer to satisfy may not be the patient, but the loved one who is there to assist and support the patient.  This loved one can be, and usually is, a close family member such as a spouse or adult child.  But it can also be a personal friend, especially if family members live far away.

Our research, conducted for Amplion Clinical Communications, was designed to determine how many patients and their loved ones have a positive vs. negative experience when it comes to nursing staff responsiveness and communication.

The results were startling to me.

Loved ones, overall, were much more critical of the nursing staff and their ability to respond to patient needs than were the patients themselves.  Loved ones were much more likely to express negative feelings about the patient stay, often using adjectives including “frustrated,” “anxious,” or “angry.”  And relative to patients, loved ones were less enthusiastic when it came to evaluating the overall experience and less likely to recommend the hospital.

Our study included just over 1,000 respondents, all reached via an online survey approach.  The sample was split 50/50 between patients and loved ones, so the results are statistically significant.

And do these results matter?  I’d answer with a resounding “yes” because loved ones are just as likely to tell others about the hospital as patients, perhaps even more likely to do so when the experience didn’t measure up to their expectations.  In effect, they’re raising the bar for “patient experience.”

To see a colorful infographic with highlights from this important study, click here.

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