The patient experience: 3 ways to increase satisfaction

Efforts to improve the patient experience at the University of California San Diego Health System don't necessarily start at the patient-level: Successful initiatives incorporate the experiences of the entire staff from administrators to the clinical team, according to an article published by Hospitals & Health Networks.

The organization refers to the strategic initiative as the "big E." That's because if the people who work at the organization don't have a good experience, they won't be able to provide a positive experience to patients, Thomas Savides, M.D., chief experience officer at the health system, told the publication.

The organization now embeds the patient experience into its policies and procedures and has representatives from all departments linked to its Office of Experience Transformation in some way, according to the article. And C-suite executives now facilitate "experience immersion" retreats for staff.

"This is more of a cultural transformation than a training methodology," Savides told the publication. "We're showing how to provide hospitality under any circumstance, doing the right thing at the right time for the right patient without it being a taught thing."

But before organizations can truly embark on patient experience improvement initiatives, leaders must consider the following:

Agree on what patient experience means: The patient experience can mean different things to people, according to Adrienne Boissy, M.D, chief experience officer at the Cleveland Clinic, which created the country's first chief experience officer position nearly a decade ago, "Without agreeing on what it is, we will never achieve it," she said.

Don't make changes right away: Boissy suggests healthcare exectuves understand the organization's culture before initiating changes. Leaders must first truly understand what it's like on the front lines of care before they can make improvements, she said.

Create a culture where all caregivers embrace the patient experience: Every single caregiver should take ownership in improving the patient's experience. If this can happen at all organizations, eventually there may be no need for a chief experience officer, she said.

To learn more:
- read the article