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by Dr Avnesh Ratnanesan

In our mission to serve the lives of millions in healthcare, I am often asked to speak at conferences, share my ideas, interview hospital CEOs as well as connect and collaborate with healthcare experts and Patient Experience (PX) champions.

A key lesson I’ve learnt is the need for healthcare providers to understand how to measure their patients’ experiences, based on their stage of Patient Experience maturity.  Measurement is crucial – you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

We therefore developed our 6E framework, a step-by-step guide to understand and holistically improve patient experience. It touches first on Experience – measuring it and verifying it, through a range of research activities.

If you’re just starting out in PX, mapping the patient journey is your first step. Ensure you talk to clinicians, non-clinicians and patients to map the journey.  Consider using researchers posing as patients (like a mystery shopper) to understand key steps and challenges. Then develop a survey to measure current patient satisfaction for each stage of the patient journey you’ve mapped out.

If you have a patient satisfaction survey, but not getting information you need, review the patient journey (or ‘shadow’ a patient) and determine what factors influence satisfaction at each stage of that journey. You may need to tweak your questions, or consider the timing of the survey.

Dell Children’s Medical Centre found survey responses were neither timely nor representative. They shortened their survey and gathered information real-time (at the completion of patient consultation). Their response rate increased from 30% to 50%, they identified the need for a more child-friendly atmosphere and an information brochure for patients, and rectified a patient/staff safety issue. They formed a PX committee aimed at completing one new improvement project every month. (Beryl Institute)

If you’ve been surveying PX for a while and now require more context, consider holding small discussion groups of 6 to 8 consumers (focus groups) to get further insight into their sentiments, attitudes and perceptions.

If you feel you are getting the insights you need, consider asking the ‘quiet’ consumer (who may have low literacy, or are reluctant to share views in a survey) via small focus groups or one-on-one conversations, which are less intimidating.

If the challenge is linking PX outcomes to business outcomes, are you mapping and measuring the right element of the journey? For instance, a healthcare provider seeking to drive growth of their maternity services, will need to ensure they understand which elements of care during pregnancy, childbirth and follow up, have the strongest impact on new mother’s satisfaction level. (http://healthcare.mckinsey.com/measuring-patient-experience-lessons-other-industries)

If you’re looking to integrate continuous improvement into your PX management, consider use of PX technology providing real-time feedback, granular outcomes and data integration, to collate survey outcomes, for view and use by all staff in your setting.

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