Are docs pushed to backseat in patient experience improvements?

Hospital and health system executives and committees--not physicians--are leading patient experience improvements as the organizations step up efforts to address the patient experience, American Medical News reported.

Of 1,072 hospital and hospital system respondents, only 3 percent of executives said physicians or other clinicians have primary responsibility and direct accountability for addressing the patient experience, according to The Beryl Institute's latest benchmark study.

But the study didn't delve into whether hospitals appointed physicians as committee members or patient experience officers, amednews noted.

However, the survey did find 29 percent of executives named a lack of support from physicians as one of the top five obstacles to patient experience improvements. The survey also found distracted leadership is the number one roadblock to hospitals improving patient experience.

The term "patient experience" may be stifling physician support, according to Reid B. Blackwelder, a Texas family physician and president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

"Patients shouldn't have an experience. They have problems that need to be solved," he told amednews. "The phrase is too slick and avoids what it's about, which is we take care of [patients] and minimize the risks."

Regardless of who's driving improvement initiatives, the "how" of delivering care trumps the "what" in patient experience success, Jason Wolf, president of The Beryl Institute, wrote last week in a Hospital Impact blog post.

"It was the interactions, it was the culture--the people who cared for us each day--that ultimately drove our perceptions and made our experience so great," Wolf wrote of his switch to the care recipient during the recent birth of his son.

And with doctors playing a major role in those interactions, hospitals might consider actively engaging physicians and other clinicians in enhancing patient experience.

For more:
- here's the amednews article
- check out the survey (.pdf)