What does it take to achieve patient experience excellence?

by Colin Shaw on April 4, 2012
What does it take to achieve patient experience excellence?

Patient experience excellence has brought Memorial Hermann Hospital System in Texas, US, astonishing rewards:

  • 5% increase of market share within the first 2 years
  • Profit where loss was predicted
  • Patient satisfaction scores jump by 20% on average across the board within a year
  • Operational efficiency
  • National recognitions such as the Press Ganey Success Story Award, 2011;Gold Circle Award for
  • Operations, 2011; President’s Cup for Best Performance Overall, 2011 and NAATP Quality Improvement Award, 2011 to name a few.

More importantly, their success has been gradually growing ever since they began their journey back in 2005. When in 2007 Beyond Philosophy stepped in to help translate intent into action and practice, Memorial Hermann had already set themselves the goal to become renowned for the experience they knew they could deliver. It took less than a year to archive success. How?

For easier understanding and the purposes of this blog we will categorize their efforts in 3 steps:

  1. Aassess and understand,
  2. Define your intention and patient experience vision
  3. Build a culture around your vision

The first two steps are crucial to ignite the movement. Through the assessment (the right one might I add, not just any assessment, one that looks at the full patient experience and journey ) you will educate your staff and give them the right perspective to understanding patient satisfaction. Here is a secret to help you succeed in this: instead of presenting to your staff what the complicated surveys say, get them involved in doing the assessment themselves.

Through step two, i.e. defining and clearly articulating your patient experience vision, you will be able to make a clear statement to the organisation on what is expected, desired and a definite no-no. A helpful hint: while acrostics and roll-off-the tongue wording help better than technical or nebulous sounding statements, to actually make your vision relevant and attractive to employees you will need to incorporate an emotional element and paint a picture with it. Create a story that will imprint on their heart, not brain.

So the first two steps will help you get started and show results very shortly after executing.

However, true and sustainable excellence comes only by creating a culture that has patient experience understanding and vision embedded in its DNA. As the saying goes: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”. One of the greatest challenges many hospitals as well as commercial organisations face is sustaining success in changing environments, in high turnover and scares resources situations (all applicable to hospitals). And being able to exceed patient expectations as they get more savvy but also maintaining employee morale and eagerness, requires a ubiquitous and enduring characterising of the culture the hospital nurtures and radiates. Step 3 of the journey to providing outstanding patient experience entails a cultural transformation- coaching your staff to be the driver and source of patient experience excellence. To do this you will need to first create patient experience-centric habits and spread the practices organically through the organisation, horizontally and vertically.

ACHIEVING PATIENT EXPERIENCE EXCELLENCE THROUGH CULTURAL TRANSFORMATION is the title of the session Qaalfa Dibeehi, Chief Operating and Consulting Officer from Beyond Philosophy and Rhonda Dishong, Director of Customer Experience Design from Memorial Hermann Healthcare System are holding at the Beryl Institute’s Patient Experience Conference 2012 (April 25-27, 2012 ; Fort Worth, Texas). They will talk about the key steps hospitals need to take and aspects they need to focus on to initiate and accomplish cultural transformation.

Beyond Philosophy will share more on achieving cultural transformation through this blog over time, keep an eye on this space.

Kalina Janevska , Kalina Janevska is a Consultant at Beyond Philosophy one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Kalina is a chief experience modeller and designer with deep applied knowledge of CE in healthcare, retail and developing economies. Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from offices in Atlanta, Georgia and London, England.

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Colin ShawWhat does it take to achieve patient experience excellence?