5 steps to starting the patient experience journey

  • Posted on October 31, 2014

The following blog post was written by Avanade alum Mike Figgins.

starting the patient experience journeyI was recently discussing the topic of enabling a comprehensive patient experience for providers with a colleague. We talked about the ultimate goals of creating a comprehensive understanding of the patient's needs and wants along with the ability to apply that understanding to individual interactions.  This conversation, just like others, wound its way through the various paths and stops in reaching the goals:

  • Information gathering through intuitive systems with targeted questions
  • Information gathering through system integrations
  • Systematically structured patient interactions and follow up tasks
  • Creating and marketing the provider brand that patients and care providers want to be a part of
  • Anticipating a patient's needs
  • Involving a patient's entire network of care providers

After a few minutes of back and forth, my colleague made a simple statement.  It is one that I imagine many people facing the need and desire to transform their organization grapple with.  He said, "That is a giant scope.  Where do you start?"

There is no one answer that works for every organization.  But, there are some steps that will get to the answer for your organization.

  1. Set a vision: there are several trends that leaders can evaluate to set the patient experience direction
  2. Inventory the baseline of processes and tools
  3. Study other providers
    • There are internationally known leaders in healthcare, like the Cleveland Clinic. There are also providers leading the way in their community.  Look at both to understand what is working and will work for your patient community.
  1. Study companies outside of healthcare
    • There are great examples of taking care of customers that can lead to creative approaches to improving the patient experience. Do you have a call center? Study communications companies or with the possibility of contradicting my point, payers. Marketing can apply lessons from retail.
  1. Identify one core area where you are seeking to make gains
    • The real secret to accomplishing all the goals of a patient experience program is to begin with an achievable, applicable project. This will become the foundation for future changes and eventual transformation. Choose an area that:
      1. Improves an area of difficulty for employees and patients
      2. Offers a return on the investment through quality of care, financial return, or increased business
      3. Can be accomplished in less than a year and preferably less than six months
        • Here are some ideas to consider - coordinating chronic care, readmissions management, social media monitoring and outreach, and improved communication with patients.

This is a short list of areas to consider for improving the patient experience. The greatest danger is not getting started because of the fear of how much there is to accomplish. Every journey starts with the first step and every fire starts with a spark.

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