The Patient Experience
The patient experience is critical to our future. The fundamental challenge before us is creating and nurturing a culture that embraces the patient experience. With value-based purchasing, we are now being held financially accountable for clinical and patient satisfaction outcomes. The patient experience now directly affects our revenue. Our culture, based on sensing the needs of others in a place where people care, calls for all of us to deliver an excellent patient experience always, every day, to every patient.
Our culture, still maturing, calls for all of us to work together as a team to consistently evaluate, adjust, and improve the patient experience. Improving the patient experience requires all of us to work together in framing a patient experience strategy that ensures an “always” impression and perception in all areas within the organization.
The question is, how do we create a culture that promotes consistent excellent patient experience? It starts by also asking, “Why are we here?” The answer is that we are here because we care – we care about others, we care about our organization, we care about our future, and we care about our image and our pride in being the best. The answer to the first question is that it starts with all of us working together for a common purpose to become better.
Next, we need to come together to evaluate our Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores. Every department must start assessing the HCAHPS scores and developing tactics to improve. We also must work across all departments, for we are all connected in the delivery of the patient experience.
In reviewing HCAHPS, everyone must know, understand, and support improving the eight patient experience dimensions:
1. Nurse communication
2. Doctor communication
3. Hospital staff responsiveness
4. Pain management
5. Medicine communication
6. Hospital cleanliness and quietness
7. Discharge information
8. Overall hospital rating
Whether we are in a clinical or non-clinical role, we all have an impact on the HCAHPS scores as reflected in “Hospital Staff Responsiveness” and “Overall Hospital Rating.” We must realize that we are all in this culture together, and we must work together to systematically improve the patient experience.
We can improve the patient experience by the simple act of showing human kindness. We can improve the way we communicate by first addressing the patient’s anxiety, using the Studer AIDET concept:
5. Thank you
If we all realize that patients in the healthcare setting are anxious, we can go a long way by acknowledging and assuring the patient that the culture is safe and caring. How we greet, introduce and relate to the patient is key to setting the stage for an excellent patient experience.
We must address waiting times — waiting is a killer to the life of developing an excellent patient experience. We must address patient flow, handoff communication, and internal response time within and among all departments. We must do a better job of explaining what is happening, and we must do a better job of navigating and narrating the patient care experience.
As we look forward to the New Year, I ask that we all unite our loyalty to nurture our culture that better serves the patient experience. Our loyalty to this cause and to our organization is needed to pursue excellence. Our loyalty must be to a higher purpose to pursue an attitude of caring about the well-being of others. Our loyalty to this higher purpose is reflected in a famous poem — In Flanders Fields by John McCrae.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Ed Piper, Ph.D.
Former President & Chief Executive Officer, 2000-2016
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