Patient Experience Matters in Healthcare – An Intro to the Future of Improvement

Person with Watch Holding Cell Phone

August 25, 2017

Nowadays everything is quantified and scrutinized, from gadgets on CNET to hotel rooms on TripAdvisor. Nothing escapes the beady eye of the consumer, and healthcare is no different. Not a day goes by where the state of healthcare doesn’t come under examination. Whether it’s the media, your local politician or your next door neighbor, everyone has an opinion on healthcare, and patients are becoming more and more vocal when it comes to sharing theirs.

The lines between healthcare and hospitality are now blurring. Whereas in the past healthcare operated on a ‘fee-for-service’ payment model, patients are now seeking more of a ‘value-based’ payment system. In other words, they are shopping for healthcare that not only promises superior outcomes, but also a superior experience.

The Beryl Institute – a global community at the forefront of advances in patient experience – found that 58% of US hospitals have a Chief Experience Officer in 2017, vs 42% in 2015.

In the US, patients expect a clean bed and a shower in their room, and they expect to engage with nurses and physicians who make them feel comfortable. However, it’s all the little things that make a difference. How does the room smell? Can you hear your neighbors? Are the towels soft or could they be used to scrape barnacles from a pier?

With the range of feedback they could collect, how do healthcare providers know where to begin when it comes to improving their offering?

The Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) survey, which was introduced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2006 offers a good start. The survey, which is administered by third party vendors, requests a patient’s views on care. Questions range from the level of noise in the hospital environment to the overall responsiveness of hospital staff. The survey allows patients to compare different healthcare institutions by providing standardized, comparable assessments.

To hospitals, this feedback is critical, It provides hospital administrators (in particular those in charge of patient satisfaction and care quality) with baseline insight into satisfaction levels and a sense of how their establishment compares to peers. Facilities that receive a large portion of their revenue from the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements have a special need for systems such as this, as the CMS bases a portion of funding on the results of the survey.

The problems with CAHPS and other surveys are that they 1.) are typically administered post-stay and 2.) only reveal the presence of an issue. The questions that are answered by patients do not provide specific information on the origin of any perceived dissatisfaction, and by the time the patient voices their opinion, it’s too late for staff to take corrective action. In many cases, they are things that could be straightforward to rectify.

A few real-time recording systems exist, but they tend to be expensive and cumbersome, and can result in healthcare providers spending precious time and resources on distilling feedback. They also aren’t as effective at providing the bigger picture i.e. giving facilities a sense of the most common issues that arise and where to focus improvement efforts.

Here at Qlicket, we’re developing our own real-time feedback system that captures insights and commentary while patients are onsite. Patients can report on all aspects of their experience – while they are at the establishment – in a way that’s quick, natural and unintrusive. Caregivers can review issues and respond in real-time. They also benefit from a broader understanding of what the most significant issues are. Our technology tags feedback to give healthcare providers an aggregated view of their patients’ satisfaction and a means to track it over time.

The highly personal, emotive nature of healthcare requires patients to be able to provide feedback in real-time. The need for a more sophisticated real-time feedback system is emphasized further when you consider the role of government initiatives in bringing quality of care to the top of the agenda (via CMS reimbursements etc.) and the broad, multifaceted ways in which patients evaluate their experience.

We’re excited to be at the forefront of developing a more intelligent way to track a patient’s journey, capture feedback and help hospitals identify where to focus their efforts. We look forward to sharing this with you in the coming months and invite you to watch this space.

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