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How to Create a Five-Star Patient Experience

Patient experience is a commitment from which there is no turning back. The entire health care sector must find new ways of thinking about how care is delivered. Consumers, meanwhile, are increasingly relying on patient experience as a decisive factor in their health care decision making.

Health care organizations recognize patient experience as an increasingly important part of their mandate and are devoting more resources to it. More than 80% of health care organizations report that they already have patient experience programs in place, with many of these “well established,” while only 1% have not yet started with these efforts.

But the decision to launch a patient experience program is no guarantee of its success; fewer than one hospital in 12 receives a five-star rating from its own patients.

In order to be successful, patient experience programs must be planned and implemented properly, applying knowledge of what has real impact and what doesn’t.

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, about 3,500 hospitals participate in the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) ranking, which uses a patient-assigned star rating to measure patient experience. Out of these hospitals, approximately 29% receive a one- or two-star rating, 34% receive three stars, and about 21% are awarded four stars, while only less than 8% receive five stars.

What is it that sets these high-performing, five-star organizations apart? Why are they so rare? In order to be successful, what issues must be prioritized? What practices deliver sustained results?

To help answer these questions, Siemens Healthineers and The Beryl Institute conducted a study of more than 1,100 patient experience professionals, including 294 from high-performing units as well as 175 patients and their family members, to identify the most important influence factors on patient experience. Participants in the study rated more than 35 different factors.

The results of high-performing units and patient organizations have been summarized in a scorecard that displays the most influential factors along the continuum of care. This scorecard can be used to gauge systemwide patient experience efforts as well as to identify gaps and potential improvement areas.

The factors have been mapped to the continuum of care, including the following areas:

– Engage patients and families
– Optimize diagnostic experience
– Deliver outcomes that matter to patients
– Must-haves

An illustration of how an enhanced patient experience can help deliver better health outcomes can be found at the Baylor Clinic in Houston, Texas, a facility dedicated to patient-centered primary care and home to some of the leading breast health specialists in the U.S.

Emily Sedgwick, MD, served as chief quality officer for Baylor College of Medicine and recognized that one of the greatest barriers to women getting timely breast cancer screening was anxiety and fear associated with these tests. She and her team developed a five-step process to enhance the patient experience at Baylor:

1. Engage with patients and their families
2. Hone talent and ensure staff acceptance
3. Standardize protocols and optimize image interpretation
4. Enhance imaging referral
5. Implement patient-friendly technology

By deploying these five steps, Sedgwick and her team were able to create a comfortable and more relaxed environment and – perhaps even more important – put in place processes allowing them to perform mammography and biopsy and then deliver outcomes that matter to patients, all in one day. This package of same-day service not only delivers outcomes to patients more quickly, it also makes treatment available as early as the next day if signs of cancer or abnormal results are detected.

The results are clear:
• More accurate and timely diagnoses leading to better patient outcomes
• A demonstrably better patient experience
• Increased revenue, largely as a result of higher patient numbers

Providing a better patient experience is not a one-off project but rather an ongoing improvement cycle that must take into account organizational needs, staff, and environmental fluctuations.

Learn more about how you can improve the patient experience in your organization contact TPMG Global here!

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