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A Hospital Priority Without a Mandate Is Wishful Thinking

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Small doctor performing check up exam on large red stick figure patientIf you ask a thousand US hospitals about their top priorities, nearly everyone would Patient Experience/Satisfaction at the head of the list. But surprisingly, upwards of half of those organizations do not have a formal mandate or mission to achieve that objective.

Those two data points come from a recently released and insightful survey by Catalyst Healthcare Research and the Beryl Institute State of Patient Experience in American Hospitals 2013. The bi-annual benchmarking study included 1,072 respondents from 672 unique organizations. It’s probably the largest study regarding Patient Experience, and frankly, it’s quite impressive.

Overall, the trends in Patient Experience in American Hospitals are generally ticking higher, based on comparison with the 2011 data, and responding hospital professionals feel “positive” (61%) or “very positive” (25%) about their progress to improve the Patient Experience.

That said, although a clear priority with most facilities (70%), more than half of the organizations (55%) do not have a formal definition. Priority or not, better than one in three (36%) have no formal mandate/mission, plus an additional 12 percent that responded “don’t know.”

PX report

Formal Mandates/Missions - Role Models

Let’s label those data points as a take-away opportunities for improvement. And fortunately for those facilities that need it, there are many good models available to help shape, or at least begin, a mandate. The survey provides these examples:

  • To listen, To care, To heal...Together
  • To consistently deliver both the highest quality care and the highest quality caring for every patient and family...
  • Accountable to the community to provide high quality, compassionate health care services
  • Courtesy, compassion and communication must be at the forefront of every interaction
  • Every patient, every interaction, every time
  • Improve the patient experience at every step of the healthcare journey
  • One Team, One Purpose - Caring for You
  • To provide every patient an extraordinary experience at every encounter

Patient Experience and Satisfaction--which seem to have emerged as an imperative only recently--are not at all new concepts. From solo practice to mega health system, we think there’s a valuable take-away in the creed of Cleveland Clinic founder Dr. William Lower...from 1921, over 90 years ago.

  • A patient is the most important person in the institution—in person or by mail.
  • Patients are not dependent on us—we are dependent on them.
  • Patients are not an interruption of our work—they are the purpose of it.
  • Patients are not outsiders to our business—they are our business.
  • The patient is not someone to argue or match wits with.
  • The patient is a person, not a statistic.
  • It is our job to satisfy them.

Drivers and Obstacles...

And where does the path to success begin? Not surprisingly, the benchmark survey says both drivers and obstacles start at the top of the food chain.

The Beryl institute "Drivers of Success" and "Roadblocks" infographic

DIGGING DEEPER: On several occasions, we’ve talked with Dr. James Merlino, Chief Experience Officer at Cleveland Clinic where Patient Experience is Not Just About Patient Satisfaction. And click through here for the State of Patient Experience in American Hospitals 2013 report.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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