Improving Patient Experience is a Never-Ending Process

Murray Izenwasser
September 18, 2018

Improving patient experience is critical in today’s rapidly evolving healthcare environment. This post shares some highlights from the diverse panel of experts who discussed patient experience at the recent Healthcare IT Expo (HITExpo).

Exploration of the impact patient experiences can have on outcomes, which technologies really make a difference and how to integrate positive patient experiences into the design of innovative solutions are some of the topics covered.

Perspectives on Patient Experience at the Healthcare IT Expo

Colin Hung, CMO & Editor HealthScene, moderated a panel consisting of the following individuals:

Colin kicked off the Patient Experience Panel by asking panel members to introduce themselves. In addition to introducing himself and his company, Spencer Kubo MD, also shared a quick take on what physicians think about patient engagement:

“They love it but they hate it at the same time. They like what they do in getting a diagnosis of cancer or another condition – it’s important and they know that sometimes patient engagement and their satisfaction is related to parking and things that are not under their jurisdiction.”

Generally Accepted Truisms About Patient Experience

After introductions, Colin offered some context to help frame the overall discussion by outlining four generally accepted truisms about patient experience that all panel members should agree on when providing their responses throughout the session.

  • Patient experience leads to better outcomes and people who are more engaged in their care achieve better outcomes.
  • Patient experience is a hot buzzword used by many vendors but lacks a common definition and lacks metrics that can actually describe it and measure it.
  • Clinicians, administrators, patients, caregivers and family members all have a role to play in determining the overall patient experience.
  • There’s not enough stakeholder involvement in the design of patient experiences.

How to Differentiate Between Real Patient Experience vs. Fool’s Gold?

After setting the context, Colin presented the following as the opening topic for the panel to address:

“There are a lot of claims being made about processes and technologies that improve the patient experience. Based on your experience, how can you tell what’s real and will have an impact on patient experience and what’s Fool’s Gold?”

Grace Cordovano on Patient Experience – Reality vs. Fool’s Gold

“One of the first things I look at is: What is this person’s experience with the healthcare system? Not everyone has had (personal experience as a patient, however) – people who are in healthcare, who take care of patients – caregivers – they know the health care systems. People in technology who do not take care of patients on a regular basis, who are not a caregiver, who have not had the ‘misfortune or luxury’ – however you want to frame it – of being a patient themselves do not know (about patient experience).

So, what I look for in [patient experience] innovation is:

  • What is this person’s experience with healthcare?
  • Is it a physician who has an MD but is in administration?
  • Do they have a patient advising them? Is it one patient? Because that’s called tokenism.
  • Have they researched and invested in these patient populations?

A common pushback I receive is: ‘Well I can’t find these people. Where are we going to find these patients? They’re not smart enough to have these conversations.’

Well, if you can’t find the patients, why are you making an innovation for a population that doesn’t exist? And if they’re not smart enough to have a conversation with you, how are they going to use your platform?”

Dr. Spencer Kubo on Measuring Patient Experience

Patient Experience. Quality measures. HEDIS. HCAPHS. MACRA. MIPS. Outcomes. Caregivers. Payers. Physicians. Providers. Healthplans. Healthcare organization.

“One of the things that I would say helps to differentiate between what’s real and what’s Fools Gold is: ‘How much is measurable?”

So, the true things that seem to work and have legs and durability are those that have feedback from patients and caregivers that this is actually working and seems of value to them. Otherwise it might be the flavor of the month and we’ll try this and go on to the next one.”

Murray Izenwasser on How Patient Experience Differs for Everyone

“I agree that it needs to be measurable and that I do think getting the actual patients involved is really important.

And I think we need to take a step back. When you’re talking about it (patient experience) you need to be very specific about what you mean by improving the patient experience. 

Everyone entering the healthcare system is having a different thing going on and Murray offered some examples:

  • A parent bringing a child into the ER for a broken limb
  • A family making end of life decisions for a family member in the ICU.
  • A woman who’s having a child that goes home 24 hours later with a healthy baby
  • A woman whose baby stays in the hospital for six months.

Each of these patients are going to have a much different level of expectations Those are all radically different expectations and experiences and we need to be very specific about what we’re trying to do.”

Patient Experience Can’t Be Measured Until It’s Defined

Murray continued:

‘So, we whitewash: ‘Oh, we’re going to improve patient experience. We’re going to have a no wait waiting room.’ Great. So, what?

Patient Experience at the Healthcare IT Expo & Conference. Outcomes. Caregivers. Payers. Physicians. Providers. Healthplans. Healthcare organization. Technologies that make a difference. How to integrate positive patient experiences into the design of innovative solutions. Patient Engagement. PatientExperience PTEXP. HITExpo. Quality measures. HEDIS. HCAPHS. MACRA. MIPS. Outcomes. Caregivers. Payers. Physicians. Providers. Healthplans. Healthcare organization.

The idea to me about patient experience is that we’re going to make sure that the processes and procedures that we have in place don’t impede the patient from receiving the healthcare they need to get back to the status quo; which is different than every other industry. I think that’s why so many of these patient experience initiatives – which have come from a great place – don’t end up reaching fruition because it’s such a nebulous, wide topic that people are trying to address.

Versus understanding the specific thing you are trying to do and measure it.”

Ken Honeycutt Calls Out: Happy Medical Staff Can Equal Happy Patients

“You know I think one of the other components of this is that it’s not just about setting the expectation level for the patient and their friends and family the caregivers. But it’s also part of the staff. Setting the expectation level of what the patient experience will be for them [staff], using the staff and getting that messaging out to them and making sure that message is consistent across the entire organization.

There’s a strong correlation between happy staff and happy patients. Happy patient – happy staff. So, there’s a link between those and how we enhance the staff experience is also impacting the patient experience.”

Engaging Patients & Caregivers to Improve the Patient Experience

Colin moved on to another topic for the Patient Experience Panel to address:

“We hear a lot from people like yourself that ‘we need to get patients involved. We need to get caregivers involved.’ What does that actually look like? How does one actually get a patient or a clinician involved? What are some of the nuts and bolts, the actual mechanics of actually designing a better patient experience?

Grace Cordovano provides an example of engaging patients

“A concrete example I can give you is called Citizen Health. This is a group of phenomenal physicians who are just done. They’re burnt out. And they want to practice and they want to practice medicine in the way that they went to medical school to provide care. Not all of the administrative burden, 

Patient Experience at the Healthcare IT Expo & Conference. Outcomes. Caregivers. Payers. Physicians. Providers. Healthplans. Healthcare organization. Technologies that make a difference. How to integrate positive patient experiences into the design of innovative solutions. Patient Engagement. PatientExperience PTEXP.

the regulatory burden, the insurance burden and all the keying and data entry. And there’s patients and people who want to participate in their care, there’s people who want to be owners of their data and there’s a leveraging of technology to make it seamless and they’re cutting out the middle men: the insurance companies, the PBM’s.

So, I encourage everyone to look at it. They’re leveraging blockchain, they’re leveraging technology. They’re incentivizing wellness and health so its not just sick care.”

Ken Honeycutt shares on value of patient boards and groups

“There’s a couple things like Patient Family Advisory Boards where they’re able to pull in patients from the population being served to be able to help drive the patient experience within their organizations. But also, you can think about larger macro items as well like PatientsLikeMe being able to stich in, being able to get additional experiences as patients that may have particular conditions or procedures that they are facing and being able to get social engagement as well.”

Is Addressing Patient Experience on an Ad-Hoc Basis ‘Okay?’

Colin queued up the next topic:

“Patient experience in a healthcare organization usually doesn’t get a lot of attention until something goes wrong. Or goes really wrong. And then all of a sudden people are like ‘Oh. We should really do something about this!’ How can you address this? How can you make sure patient experience stays on top of the radar even when things are going okay? Or should patient experience even be on the radar if everything’s okay?

A Chief Marketing Officer Shares a Personal Patient Experience Story

Murray responded to Colin’s question by relating a story shared with other HITExpo attendees just the night before:

“I was relating a story last night about just that. We had a recent experience where nobody did anything wrong but the patient experience was horrible.”

To hear Murray’s short story, check out the following three-minute recording.


RELATED: Employing Voice Technology to Interact at Conferences Like the Healthcare IT Expo

This post shares about half of the insight presented by the Patient Experience Panel at the recent Healthcare IT Expo & Conference. In Part Two of this two-part series, we’ll share the balance of information, ideas and opinions offered by panel members.

In the meantime, for more about improving patient experience, the inaugural Healthcare IT Expo & Conference (HITExpo) and how technologies can transform your healthcare organization:

Patient Engagement and Patient Experience at the Inaugural Healthcare IT Expo

Recapping Days 1 & 2 of the Inaugural Healthcare It Expo & Conference

Follow @AAJTech on Twitter

Connect with AAJ Technologies on LinkedIn

Reach out to AAJ Technologies for insight and assistance on how to enhance patient experience via improvements and advancements in your current digital health technologies.  

Murray Izenwasser

ABOUT Murray Izenwasser

Murray has been working on digital, web, and mobile based systems, content, platforms, technologies and marketing since the mid-‘90s, and is a recognized expert in online, integrated, and social marketing techniques. His clients over the years have included some of the world’s largest and most recognized brands. Prior to AAJ he co-founded and ran a successful digital marketing and technology agency for 7 years, and has held senior positions with some of the world’s largest digital agencies, including both Razorfish and Sapient. He is a frequent speaker at both marketing / technology and industry events.

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