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4 Ways to Indirectly Influence Patient Experience

By Jennifer Thew RN  
   August 02, 2016

Delivering excellent patient experience starts with leaders creating and supporting environments conducive to achieving good experiences between RNs and patients.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may be grabbing all the headlines, but in healthcare circles, patient experience is the topic on everyone's mind.

"I can tell you that even though I have the title, everybody in our organization is talking about it, asking how to do it better, [and] wanting to know what they need to do differently to really get us to that next level," Sandra Myerson, MBA, MS, BSN, RN, chief patient experience officer at Mt. Sinai Health System in New York told me recently.

Related: The Hidden Patient Experience

So what's the secret to achieving high-level patient experience? There's no one-size-fits all answer, but here are some of my favorite insights on patient experience from Myerson and other leaders I've talked with recently.  

1. Acknowledge Patients' Suffering

With illness there is suffering—on many levels.

"Even if you're sitting in the waiting room for 30 minutes waiting to be seen and you're just there for your annual physical, there's some level of suffering going on," says Kelley Dillon, director of care experience at Henry Ford Hospital and Health Network in Detroit.

Related: How Henry Ford Health System Is Prioritizing Clinician Communication

"You have to sit there and wait. You're doing it because it's the right thing to do. But you'd much rather be having lunch with a friend."

This calls for creating a culture where all employees communicate with compassion "because that's the way our customers will always come to us," Dillon says.

2. Create 'Radical Convenience'

"The things the customer really cares about, and you see [this] in focus groups—it's convenience and affordability. They're the top two things at the top of mind with the consumer today," says William Conway, MD, executive vice president at Henry Ford Health System, chief executive officer for Henry Ford Medical Group in Detroit.

To meet the consumers' needs, organizations should become "radically convenient," a term Conway coined. This means giving patients multiple options to connect with your organization. At Henry Ford, patients can, "click, call, and come-in," Conway says.

Use "whatever approach you would like to solve your problem," he explains. "You can go to a walk-in clinic, you can use My Chart form of communication with staff, or use the traditional telephone."

Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.

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