CHIME 2015: 5 ways providers can improve the patient experience

Despite the best intentions of medical professionals, patients often don't feel as if their voices are being heard in the care process, according to emergency physician Leana Wen.

"There is that disconnect that exists between the patient's experience ... and the care that is being given to our patients," said Wen (pictured), speaking last week at the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives' annual fall forum in Orlando. Wen, who serves as Commissioner of Health for Baltimore City, shared both personal and professional stories about patients navigating the care system to point out that providers can do more to improve care results and the consumer experience.

Wen shared five ideas for providers to bridge that disconnect:

  1. Engage patients as equal partners in the care process:  Patient engagement, Wen said, can't simply be a checkbox. "There's so much that we can learn from the patient perspective," she said.
  2. Focus on listening: While new technology continues to improve how care is delivered to patients, 80 percent of diagnoses can be made simply by listening more closely, Wen said. "If a diagnosis can be made based on listening, isn't it worth it for us to really listen? What about coming up with technologies that know how to incentivize listening?"
  3. Tell patients to seek a diagnosis, not a test: Often, patients will come in thinking the right thing to do is to ask for a test using a high-end piece of technology, according to Wen. "How can we talk about using technology wisely?" she said. "How can we restructure the [electronic medical record] in a way that actually accomplishes our overall goal of reducing misdiagnoses and unnecessary tests," while also balancing that notion with giving providers more work?
  4. Bring care to patients: "Healthcare is no longer about hospitals," Wen said. "How powerful would it be for us to invest in technology for all of us in our various roles in healthcare systems," such as nurses in schools using telemedicine for faster and easier doctor access?
  5. Take better advantage of available data: There are opportunities for us to align our population health goals and our public health goals using data dashboards, Wen said.

"Ultimately ... we're here to make sure that our patients are better at the end of the day, and that we're delivering cost efficient but also quality healthcare," Wen said.