How can an organization get its arms around something as massive and variable as the patient experience? By listening to the experts—the patients.
This article first appeared in the September 2016 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
Carol Raimondi, RN, knows what it's like to be a patient. Born with congenital heart defects, the 40-year-old's life has been entwined with the healthcare system for decades. Raimondi had her first open-heart surgery when she was 6 years old, and has since had multiple surgeries and hospitalizations both at well-known academic medical centers and at her local community hospital, 259-bed Elmhurst (Illinois) Hospital.
In her time as a patient and a provider, Raimondi has noticed changes in the way healthcare is delivered. What was once a very patient-focused experience has morphed into something less personal and more procedural, she says.
"Over the years, everybody just became busier. There was more charting and more things to do," says Raimondi, who worked as a nurse for eight years, but stepped away from clinical practice in 2006 due to health issues. "Healthcare has become so big, with all these pharmaceutical and insurance companies and all these different regulations. Patient experience has become focused on HCAHPS scores, and what are we going to do to get our scores higher?"
For healthcare executives, attention to results of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey— the organization's tool for measuring patients' perceptions of care—has become a necessity due to reimbursement changes, public reporting of scores, and the shift to value-based care. But a single-minded focus on HCAHPS scores is a missed opportunity to improve quality, safety, and patient engagement through a broader, more multifaceted approach to patient experience. The Beryl Institute, an independent nonprofit thought leadership organization focused on improving patient experience, defines this approach as "the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization's culture, that influence patient perceptions across a continuum of care."
Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.