It might be a bit of a leap to associate quality data with improving the patient experience. But the pathway is apparent when you consider that physicians need data to track patient diagnoses, treatments, progress, and outcomes. The data must be high quality (easily accessible, standardized, comprehensive) so it simplifies, rather than complicates, the physician’s job. This becomes even more important in the pursuit of population health, as care teams need to easily identify at-risk patients in need of preventive or follow-up care. Patients engaged in their own care via portals and personal peripherals contribute to the volume and quality of data and feel empowered in the process. This physician and patient engagement leads to improved care and outcomes, and, ultimately, an improved patient experience.
Patient Experience, Engagement, Satisfaction
According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, health equity is achieved when everyone can attain their full health potential and no one is disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position of any other socially defined circumstance.
Without health equity, there are endless social, health, and economic consequences that negatively impact patients, communities, and organizations. The U.S. ranks last on measures of health equity compared to other industrialized countries. Healthcare contributes to this problem in many ways, including ignoring clinician biases toward certain populations and overlooking the importance of social determinants of health.
Fortunately, there are effective, tested steps organizations can take to tackle their health inequities and disparities (e.g., incorporating nonmedical vital signs into their health assessment processes and partnering with community organizations to connect underserved populations with the services they need to be healthy). Some health systems, such as Allina Health, have achieved impressive results by making health equity a systemwide strategic priority.
What do the best care management teams in the industry have in common? They engage and empower their patients to play a leadership role in their healthcare. After all, patients without the skills to manage their care incur costs up to 21 percent higher than engaged patients.
Engaging and empowering patients as the most important members of the care management team makes sense on many fronts—as health systems assume more responsibility and financial risks for patients’ outcomes and costs, there will certainly be more interest in expanding the role of patients in their care.
This blog explains why engaging patients like 68-year-old Abdel not only instills a gratifying sense of empowerment, but also improves outcomes and controls costs—the many benefits of an effective care management team.
A comprehensive care management program organizes many moving parts into an efficient workflow and brings order to the complex, often messy, world of healthcare. Care coordination harmonizes the workflow of clinicians, patients, family, social workers, and therapists, to name a few. It facilitates medication reconciliation, care compliance, appointment scheduling, and communication with patients, as well as engagement between patients and the care team. Care coordination concentrates on the highest-utilization, highest-cost patients to produce better clinical, operational, and financial outcomes, the bottom line goals for healthcare systems involved in population health and value-based care.
This article details the benefits of, and barriers to, care management and coordination, their role in population health, and the technology that’s helping to automate this area of healthcare.
Patient engagement is critical as we move toward population health—as patients who engage in their own care by following medical recommendations and making healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices will have better outcomes and experiences.
There isn’t, however, a clear path to successful patient engagement. Fortunately, public health can lend several established principles that may help us better involve patients in their own care:
Using systematic, population-level solutions that require less individual effort.
Engaging patients on interpersonal and community levels as well as personal.
Identifying root-cause, assessing and capitalizing on strengths, and engaging stakeholders.
Using strategies from behavioral economics to help individuals make good choices.
Anticipating failure and learning from it.
Improving patient satisfaction scores and the overall patient experience of care is a top priority for health systems. It’s a key quality domain in the CMS Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program (25 percent) and it’s an integral part of the IHI Triple Aim.
But, despite the fact that health systems realize the importance of improving the patient experience of care, they often use patient satisfaction as a driver for outcomes. This article challenges this notion, instead recommending that they use patient satisfaction as a balance measure; one of five key recommendations for improving the patient experience:
Use patient satisfaction as a balance measure—not a driver for outcomes.
Evaluate entire care teams—not individual providers.
Use healthcare analytics to understand and act on data.
Leverage innovative technology.
Improve employee engagement.
This article also explains why patient experience is so closely tied to quality of care, and why it’s a prime indicator of a healthcare organization’s overall health.
Good patient care means patient-centric care. Relying on good mentors during residency training, physicians can learn how to put patients first. For example, during one rotation of mine, I saw a mentor consistently use humor and expertise with patients to connect with them and help them change their environments at home. I was also part of patient-centered teams that worked together to identify potentially life-threatening conditions, and intervene to save lives. We can put people before projects and be patient-centric.
Patient engagement is the cornerstone of effective patient-centered care teams. But what if care teams could do more than engage patients? What if they could turn these patients into care team leaders?
Patient-centered care teams can transform patients into proactive leaders who have the knowledge and motivation to take ownership of their health by following four key recommendations:
Make decisions using data.
Make it personal.
Make it easy to share information.
Leverage new technology when appropriate.
In what often feels like a fragmented system, patient-centered care teams provide a personalized environment and care continuity. And while patient engagement is a top priority, leveraging predictive analytics to move beyond engagement to empowerment will lead to better health outcomes for individuals and entire patient populations.
Patient satisfaction metrics are being put in the spotlight and are becoming more important as healthcare organizations transition from fee-for-service reimbursements to alternative payment models. While healthcare and the entertainment industry may seem disparate on the surface, there is much organizations can learn about improving the patient experience from companies like Disney who utilize data to understand their customers’ wants and needs in order to provide a superior guest experience. Disney creates the idea guest experience in 5 ways: 1. Understanding the guest; 2. Everyone is a performer; 3. Seeking out interactions; 4. Owning the guest; and 5. Accountability
With the major shift to value-based care sweeping across the U.S. landscape, healthcare organizations are looking for ways to significantly improve their patient satisfaction metrics. Thibodaux Regional Medical Center has done just that by creating a culture of patient-centered excellence. Their formula includes three key promises that have become the heart and soul of their operations: (1) provide great clinical care, (2) provide great emotional care, and (3) invest in great technology and processes.
Cleveland Clinic wanted to improve their patient satisfaction scores, so they put the patients first and at the center of everything they do. Health systems may believe they’re already prioritizing their patients’ needs, but in reality, they may not be addressing the real issues. To uncover this information, health systems must dig into their patient satisfaction scores and analyze all of the data, including patient comments, anecdotes, and verbatims. Armed with these insights, they’ll be able to drive effective improvement initiatives and improve their scores, just as Cleveland Clinic did.