Patient Experience Number Two

Posted on May 11, 2011


Despite some inaccurate headlines about the recent Beryl Institute study on patient experience, which shows that although hospital leaders rank patient experience as one of several top priorities, quality / patient safety is number one.  Patient experience is number two.

The landmark patient experience survey of more than 790 hospital executives revealed quality/patient safety was leaders’ top priority, ahead of patient experience/patient satisfaction and cost reduction, respectively. Seventy-three percent of hospital executives, however, do not have a formal definition of patient experience. The Beryl Institute defines patient experience as “the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.”

Leaders’ top three priorities for achieving patient experience were noise reduction followed by discharge process and instructions and lastly, patient rounding. Sixty-one percent of respondents felt positive about their progress in addressing experience. Fifty percent said the biggest challenge to change is the organization’s culture.  

I have only a pedestrian and designer’s view of patient experience, yet to me patient experience is a complex sum of many things. Noise reduction, discharge and rounding are important, but a little out of touch toward the clinical side. Noise reduction is important, but discharge and rounding seem like quality issues to me. For a successful patient experience, how about:  friendliness of staff, patience / focus of caregivers, wayfinding, accuracy of information, minimized wait time, quality food, attractive interiors, comfortable furniture, easy / close parking…to name a few.

I laud the emphasis on patient experience, despite its complexity. Patient experience is a holistic, collective sort-of-thing. Patient safety is not easy thing to solve, but safety is more quantitative while the patient experience is qualitative. Maybe it is good to be number two.