Does Patient Experience Last Only 4.5 Days?

The CEO of Texas Health Resources stated in the December 2013 issue of HealthLeaders Magazine that “hospitals are used to being accountable for about 4.5 days.”  4.5 days represents the average length of stay for inpatients—I think the use of the word ‘inpatients’ could be considered redundant.

Also in the article is the fact that Texas Health Resources is transforming the delivery of healthcare from hospital-based to community-based including, education, wellness, prevention, primary care, rehab, home, long-term, palliative, and hospice care.

Accountable.  Accountable for care. 4.5 days.  Accountability probably includes reducing readmissions, which includes making sure more people complete more of their discharge orders.

Transforming delivery away from the hospital.

Today hospitals define patient experience as an inpatient function.  Patient Experience efforts must also last on average 4.5 days, and it must not apply much to outpatients or prospective patients.

Here’s where I get confused.  As care is moved from being hospital-centered to community-based I assume that means patient experience will change from being exclusively inpatient care.  It will have to include education, wellness, prevention, primary care, rehab, home, long-term, palliative, and hospice care.  Patient experience will have to be available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and on any device.  Essentially at a time and on a device of the patient’s choosing.

The problem is that patient experience like that does not exist today.

You may find education information about a smoking cessation program taped to the wall of a hospital elevator, or via snail-mail, or hidden in a Where’s-Waldo fashion among dozens of other links on the hospital’s web site.

Patients, and prospective patients, should be able to complete dozens of business functions by phone or on the web at any time and on a device of their choosing—access, authorizations, referrals, scheduling, admissions, billing, complaints, refills, discharge—for community-based services like education, wellness, prevention, primary care, rehab, home, long-term, palliative, and hospice care.

Just because patients are not in the hospitals does not mean they are not still your patients.  If you treat them as though they aren’t they will go be somebody else’s patients.

Patient experience needs to occur for as long as the hospital thinks of that individual as either a patient or as a prospective patient.  Sometimes that is over a period of years.

Just because the hospital has never designed that experience or measured it does not mean that the person is not having an experience.  They are, they are just not having a very good one.

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