The Patient Experience Emoji Challenge Board Game: Who Wins?

Perhaps we can being this post with an activity for health system executives—payers can try this also.  Stop what you are doing and go to a mall, a ballgame, the movies, or someplace where you will be able to observe a lot or people.  And observe…and email me if you think you think you know what you were to have observed.

When you are talking with someone, and something they say triggers the lizard part of your brain to say something witty, do you ever just go with it? I spoke today with a healthcare consulting executive.  She asked me the following question. “Providers think we are offering the same services as firms like Studer. What can we do about that?”  The lizard in me wanted to say, “Hang a string of garlic around your neck and carry a wooden stake.”  I demurred.

Permit me to begin with a disclaimer.  I am sure they are nice people.  Clearly they provide a service providers value.  If they didn’t they would not be in business.  And perhaps I live in the type of parallel universe defined in quantum physics, one where everything is upside down.  So allow me spend a minute describing how things seem in my little universe, and I will let you be the judge as to whether there are more effective ways to invest your health system’s scarce resources.

On my planet, when I spend money on a program to improve experience, I require the program to meet three criteria:

  • Will the program improve the experiences of all of my health system’s stakeholders (patients—in and out, family members, care givers, customers and referring physicians)? Or, will it only improve the experiences for a small percentage of our stakeholders—inpatients?
  • Will the program improve the experiences everywhere my health system’s stakeholders have experiences (before hospitalization, during hospitalization, and after hospitalization)? Or will it only improve hospital experiences?
  • Will the program improve experience, or will it just improve experience scores?

It’s a pretty simple test.  Will the money improve the experiences of many people, or will it only improve the experiences of one or two people.

So, let’s play the single elimination, Patient Experience Emoji board game; My strategy to improve stakeholders experience versus a strategy to improve just the experiences of inpatients.  The landscape of the game-board is the health system’s service area, its population.  Players collect emojis for each health system stakeholder whose experience they are able to improve.  The player who collects the most emojis wins.

Up for grabs in the game are the following stakeholders. Each group of stakeholders is worth various numbers of emojis. Let’s assume that the stakeholder that represents the potential service population contains 1,000 people.  The player who can demonstrate that their strategy will raise that stakeholder’s experiences earns 1,000 emojis.  The stakeholders have the following emoji values:

  • Population(consumers)                1,000 emojis
  • Former patients                                300 emojis
  • Family members                               150 emojis
  • Outpatients                                       100 emojis
  • Inpatients                                            50 emojis
  • Referring physicians                          30 emojis
  • Care givers                                         15 emojis
  • Radiology technician                           1 emoji
  • Hospital receptionist                            1 emoji
  • RN                                                          1 emoji
  • Therapist                                               1 emoji
  • Orderly                                                   1 emoji
  • Physician                                               1 emoji
  • And so forth

The game begins by a role of the dice—highest number moves first.  When you land on a spot on the game-board represented by a stakeholder, you have the option to try to raise that stakeholder’s experience.  If you pass on the option, or try to raise the experience and fail, your opponent has the chance to raise the experience.

My competitor rolls a seven and moves his piece across the board, landing on caregivers.  He decides to try his luck.  His efforts to increase the experiences of caregivers includes coaching the radiology technician, teaching the hospital receptionist to smile, and explaining how to reduce ambient noise levels on the floor fail because caregivers are not impacted by those efforts.  No emojis are awarded.

The attempt falls to me.  I explain that caregivers can do a lot of what they need to do online through the stakeholder portal’s self-service option, or they can call the health system’s new call center and be supported through the CRM tool. I win 15 emojis.

The game continues.  My worthy opponent’s approach demonstrates the ability to outdo me inside the hospital, capturing all of the available 1-point emojis.  He scores 7 emoji points.  The teach-the-employee-to-smile initiatives seem to have merit; but not for any current or former patients, and not for family members. In fact, the only people who may benefit from my opponent’s approach are only future patients, and only the smaller percentage of future patients who happen to interact with the smilers.

My approach nets 1,550 emojis.

If you are the health system executive, how do you want to spend your patient experience dollars?  One approach has the capability of improving the experiences of single stakeholders.  The other approach has the capability of raising the experiences of everyone who interacts with the health system.  It has that capability because it deals with improving the access experiences of everyone who needs to interact with the system.

Raise one boat at a time.  Or, raise all boats.

Oh, and the bit about going to the mall or someplace with people in it.  The thing to have observed about all of those people is that every single one of them is a potential patient, a potential customer of your health system.  They are worth a lot of emojis.

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