Refreshing Patient Experience Strategy for New Levels of Effectiveness
By Diane S. Hopkins | April 24, 2019
Hospitals and health systems are spending more time and resources than ever before searching for reliable paths to improve patient satisfaction. The overall pursuit of patient satisfaction can be daunting. There are so many different aspects of an inpatient or outpatient experience that influence the patient’s ultimate satisfaction. To make things even more complex, the true definition of patient experience is “everything and anything,” according to Dr. Jim Merlino, author of the book Service Fanatics. Patient satisfaction is different for every patient so exceeding expectations that are all over the board is a difficult task indeed.
When it’s hard to define what success looks like for customers in any business, the best way to move forward is to prepare the entire workforce to be ready for almost anything. At the Medline Patient Experience and Innovation Institute, we work with healthcare leaders to focus on two critical areas: moment by moment exceptional responses and more innovative problem solving.
The first focus area grows out of the concept that patient experiences are a moment by moment pursuit. Looking at all the complexities of each patient admission is too much to handle, so focusing on key moments, customized by patient, is an effective approach. In my book, Unleashing the Chief Moment Officers, I explain how organizations can emphasize the personal influence every staff member can have on the customer experience. Once you prepare staff at all levels to strive for exceptional caring, to delight customers whenever possible and to embrace the belief that the success of the organization depends in part on their input and insights, a sense of ownership grows and new levels of care will flourish.
This preparation of staff needs to begin as part of new employee orientation and be reinforced continually. The value of having an entire workforce of Chief Moment Officers, empowered to look for stated and unstated patient needs, and prepared to anticipate and respond to exceed patient expectations, is priceless. The positive impact will be felt not only by patients but also by staff members who will connect to the organization more strongly by being included, trained and knowing that their contributions are valued.
The second focus area for an enhanced patient experience strategy is investing in the problem-solving skills of the entire workforce. If you visit any hospital or health system and ask any group of employees what percentage of their day is spent problem solving, they will enthusiastically report that it’s over 70%, 90% or 100% of their day. When you dig deeper and ask what preparation they’ve had to be a good problem solver or an innovative problem solver, typically no hands go up. Problem-solving is at the core of customer service and doing it well isn’t always a natural skill. Hospital staff face many levels of regulations, cost-savings, supply limits and conflicting priorities that can make solving a patient problem a daunting task. An effective strategy to consider is to dedicate time and resources toward innovative problem-solving skill building throughout the organization. Once their skills are better aligned with how their days unfold, staff will find new opportunities to satisfy patient needs. Innovative problem-solving at all levels can also impact organizational efficiencies, productivity, safety and quality of care.
Consider challenging your leaders to do an honest assessment of the current state of your innovative problem-solving competencies and development of Chief Moment Officers as part of the reinvention of an exceptional experience strategy.
On behalf of Medline, happy National Patient Experience Week to all who work tirelessly to provide exceptional care experiences for every patient, family member and caregiver they meet.
Learn more about how the Patient Experience and Innovation Institute is training the new generation of innovators.
Diane S. Hopkins
Executive Director of the Medline Patient Experience and Innovation Institute.
Diane S. Hopkins serves as the Executive Director of the Medline Patient Experience and Innovation Institute. Before joining Medline in 2018 she had an extensive career in the healthcare industry and served as one of the first Chief Experience and Innovation Officers in the US. She has worked as Chief Innovation, Marketing and Experience Officer at Beacon Health System, South Bend, IN, Vice President of Innovation for Lancaster General Health, Lancaster, PA. She also served as the principal for DuPont Sustainable Solutions healthcare safety practice. Diane is a Certified Experience Economy Expert and author of the book, Unleashing the Chief Moment Officers and co-author of the book, Wake Up and Smell the Innovation. She has consulted and trained patient experience coaches throughout the US and is a regular keynote speaker and workshop leader and a regular contributor at the Cleveland Clinic Empathy and Innovation Summit. She is a visiting faculty member at the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences and a founding faculty member at The Innovation Mentor program at the University of Notre Dame.