Establish a Patient-Focused Culture and Drive Growth
In the past decade, patient experience has been a game changer for providers looking to surpass the competition and increase community impact. “Improving the patient experience can help a hospital improve its financial performance by strengthening customer loyalty, building reputation and brand, and boosting utilization of hospital services through increased referrals to family and friends,” states a recent report from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.
Fostering positive customer experience is the secret sauce for any organization. While different terminology is used across industries, the concept is the same: focus on delighting the people you are serving. As a healthcare provider, arming oneself with an understanding of what an excellent patient experience looks like will be a key component to meeting your hospital’s long term goals.
The Employee Experience
I joined the Stratasan team in August 2017 with the plan of establishing a customer success team. The goal was to establish a team that would monitor and implement strategies to ensure we were providing a positive customer experience for Stratasan clients. When approached about how to create a team like this from scratch, I’ve been asked questions like “where do you start,” “how do you start”? My answer is simply that positive customer experiences must start with positive employee experiences.
At Stratasan, I was immediately impressed by how each member of the team, across all departments, were joyfully sharing how much they loved Stratasan and the work they provide—serving customers who, in turn, serve patients in need of care. Respect, joy, pride, and care of your employees starts at the leadership level. The positive employee experience I have encountered at Stratasan is a testament to the work of the leadership team. They have shepherded Stratasan to be customer-focused by first ensuring a positive employee experience. Respecting others and being part of a team that you can trust gives any employee the strength to go out and serve customers well and support quality driven outcomes.
Implementing a Patient Experience Model
In the provider space, patient experience should impact every touchpoint. It must become an integral part of the culture for positive experiences to consistently occur.
In the provider space, patient experience should impact every touchpoint. It must become an integral part of the culture for positive experiences to consistently occur. http://bit.ly/2poOEs6 [Source: @Stratasan] (Click to Tweet!)
Below I’ve outlined seven steps for creating a sustainable, high-impact patient experience model across your hospital or healthcare system.
- CEO Mandate*: Hospitals won’t beat patient-obsessed competitors through minor improvements to patient touchpoints. Instead, senior leaders must make patient experience a part of every major decision. Leadership must set a mandate for a patient-focused culture and then lead by example—showing what it means to create a positive patient experience.
- Employee Experience: Get your house in order. Create a culture that cultivates an excellent employee experience—strive to be the best place to work. Again, this is an opportunity for the leadership team to lead by example—encourage everyone to respect each other, celebrate successes, and learn from mistakes. In doing so, you’ll create an environment where your team is happy and cared for. They will, in turn, look for ways to serve your patients well.
- Be Patient Focused: Always make decisions with the patients in mind. For added emphasis, consider creating a team exclusively focused on this effort. While a commitment to making your patient's lives better is already a focus for your hospital and likely included in your mission or value statement, consider what you can add to the baseline patient experience to make an impact from a community perception perspective.
- Innovation*: Keep an innovative mindset. Make scenario planning (when group of executives sets out to develop a small number of stories about how the future might unfold and how this might affect an issue that confronts them) a habit so you are thinking ahead, proactively managing risk, and mitigating possible disruptors in the industry. Position yourself to be the disruptor to lead change in better patient experiences.
- Listen, Listen, Listen: Avoid score addition. While data collection is key to spotting risk early and understanding areas where you are winning—it’s also very important to get in the field and listen to employees and patients. Ask questions. Listen, listen, and listen some more. Then map out a plan for addressing the headaches, challenges, and issues that have been identified. Be sure to communicate your plan back to your employees and patients. This helps them realize they have been heard and provides you the time needed for implementation.
- Define Success: Define “what is a positive patient experience?” and “what does success look like for your hospital?”
- Create a Vision and Success Plan: Create a solid patient success plan that includes measurable execution items.
Industry Definitions of Success
Here are a few examples of how patient experience is being defined by healthcare executives and leaders:
- Hospital executive Dr. Adrienne Boissy is a neurologist at Cleveland Clinic and their Chief Experience Officer. She defined patient’s first as “safe care, high quality care, in the context of the experience of care and high value” when asked in a recent interview on The Human Duct Tape Show with Jeanne Bliss. Ms. Boissy also recently spoke at the HIMSS18 Patient Engagement & Experience Summit where she was interviewed about how important it is to disrupt legacy pain points about the patient journey.
- Cedars-Sinai Hospital’s Chief Patient Experience Officer Alan Dubovsky created a way to find out what employees think Cedars-Sinai does well and what patients think they do well. He asks employees: “if you walked into this hospital as a patient, what would you say about this place—physically, emotionally, and from a coordination perspective?” He explained in a recent interview, also with The Human Duct Tape Show, that this was a great conversation starter for gathering information on areas where they needed to focus, helping them to avoid making decisions in a vacuum.
- Lastly, to highlight how important innovation is to staying on the cutting edge of providing positive patient solutions, Kaiser's CEO, Bernard Tyson, spoke at the Nashville Healthcare Council in 2017 saying that half of all their physician visits were virtual—either telephone call or video—at the request of the patient.
An understanding of how to deliver a top-notch patient experience is a critical component to making a positive impact with your employees, patients, and within the industry. Your patient experience will affect your market share as it’s been proven that an outstanding experience can lead to natural, organic growth. Positive employee experiences will create an environment where team members thrive and look for ways to serve patients well. These components should be key elements in your executive conversations, since innovation and focus in these areas will tie to the success and sustainability of your facility in the community.
Article by Lessie C. Poyner, VP of Customer Success for Stratasan
*As mentioned in the 2016 Forrester report, The CX Transformation Imperative, by Harley Manning