Patient experience vs. patient care: Healthcare isn't Disney World

Guest post by Thomas Dahlborg, an industry voice for relationship-centered and compassionate care, keynote speaker, author, consultant and adviser

Early one morning I woke to another wonderful article shared by Doug Della Pietra on LinkedIn: 5 Ways to Measure Patient Experience and Patient Happiness.

The article by Jacqueline DiChiara was excellent in and of itself, but also highlighted a number of connections for me.

1.) Yes, it is essential to achieve optimal care to measure what can be measured. It is likewise essential to understand what cannot be measured. And thus it is also important to consciously manage each accordingly.

2.) In the article, Ried B. Blackwelder, M.D., president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians, shared a point that resonated greatly and that I wanted to expand upon. Blackwelder said, "Patients shouldn't have an experience; [patients] have problems that need to be solved. This is not like Disney World. This is about safety and outcomes. The phrase is too slick and avoids what it's all about, which is we take care of [patients] and minimize the risks."

Yes! Healthcare is not Disney World (and for that matter healthcare services are not French fries and patients are not customers). And yes, our major focus must be on the care, the healthcare, the healthCARING.

The care can get lost when the experience becomes the lone focus. And the care must never get lost.

3.) And this last point connects with an example of an incongruence that can occur when a patient experience focus overshadows a patient care focus...

While at the amazing Patient and Family Centered Care Conference and Summit this past October, I met a brilliant speaker who cares deeply about how best to engage both patients and families in the healing (and dying) process.

It just so happened that after her presentation I saw Roberta Mori, director at Sutter Health Sacramento, in the hallway on the way to lunch. And it was during this conversation (as we both fought hunger pains) that I first learned about "ICU delirium" as well as receiving a prompt to also research E. Wesley Ely, M.D.,  and his work at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to learn more.

Read the full commentary at Hospital Impact