Patient Experience: What If?

I took a week off from blogging to refill the jars in which I store my adjectives and metaphors, and to see if I might learn how to make my segues read more naturally.

I read a study in which Forester Consulting concluded that 89% of workers to deal with customers—if it makes you more comfortable go ahead and substitute the word patients—reported that those workers weren’t able to meet the expectations of those customers.

Let’s pause for a second to reflect on the business impact of that finding.

Now let us consider someone who is a patient.  As an example, someone with a chronic disease.  That person may have been an inpatient a few times over the years.  During the time when that person wasn’t an inpatient they were also someone who several times each year interfaced with the hospital, making appointments, scheduling labs or therapy, requesting refills or copies of their medical records, or trying to make sense of their bills.

Now what if when that same someone tried to interface with the hospital, the workers trying to serve the person weren’t able to meet that person’s expectations 89% of the time?  What if eighty-nine percent of the time when the patient tried to make appointments, schedule labs or therapy, request refills or copies of their medical records, or tried to make sense of their bills it didn’t happen?  What kind of experience did they have if they were put on hold or their call was transferred or they had to call back?  What if they felt the only way to get their expectations met they had to go to ED or they chose to go to another provider?

The thing is the vast majority of hospitals do not know if their employees are meeting the expectations of their patients.  They do not know because they do not observe, measure, or ask patients about those interactions.

Those types of interactions were never designed, they have just sort of evolved over time.

Hospitals look at patient experience through the monocle of HCAHPS.  If hospitals could reduce the noise in the corridors one decibel by placing rubber bumpers on the Jell-O on the food carts the rubber bumper manufacturers would be sitting pretty.

Now what if hospitals placed the same emphasis on the other enterprise-wide experiences their patients encountered?  What if every time a patient tried to schedule an appointment, a lab, or therapy they were able to do so during their first attempt?  What if they could get a refill one hundred percent of the time they needed one?

What if a hospital chose to Design each of those experiences?  What then would patient experience look like?

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