How Do You Define and Measure Patient Experience?

Joseph Gaspero

Happy senior citizen having a casual small talk with the friendly doctor

In today’s dynamic healthcare industry, with fundamental policy changes and ground-breaking technological advances occurring more than ever, it is vital to reevaluate the metrics used in determining the quality of care given to patients. Determining and measuring healthcare quality is a multi-faceted challenge, which must consider all aspects of care from patient treatment to administration and policy. The patient experience is among the core metrics used today, which is considered the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.1 The continuum of care considers every step in the healthcare process from arrival to outcome. As trending healthcare values continuously place a heavier focus around patient-centricity in all aspects of care, accurately measuring the patient experience is increasingly vital. This begins with addressing value discrepancies between provider and patient perspectives, assessing limitations in traditional data gathering methods, and better understanding patient standards of evaluation. A higher level of patient experience has shown yield direct benefits in long-term recovery, compliance with recommended treatment, and many other care outcomes dependent on trust and acceptance from the patient.2

The patient experience is influenced heavily by the culture and policies set by the provider. Whether a county hospital or day clinic, the success of various patient-centric initiatives and, in turn, impact of the overall atmosphere determined by administrators contributes directly into how personnel view and interact with patients. Yet these are a reflection of the staff’s values, which are not necessarily aligned with the values of the patients they treat.3 Therefore, it is imperative to give proper consideration to patients’ perspectives. The healthcare industry’s recent policy changes reflect this ever-growing necessity by offering new reimbursement programs for providers based on metrics that evaluate the patient experience.4 Yet, policy changes at the top can take a long time to trickle down and to patients. By continuously working to understand the difference between the patient’s and provider’s perspective, and its value in relation to patient experience, all healthcare providers can begin to bridge the gap by providing a higher quality level of care that is focused on the patient’s needs.

Understanding the value of the patient’s perspective in the quality of healthcare is limited to the effectiveness of the means used to gather the data. The Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) survey stands as the current standard in gathering data on patient experience. However, the data gathered is greatly dependent upon the level of patient satisfaction; which, while important, does not consider all the elements of the continuum such as quality, safety, and service outcomes.5 This results in a skewed assessment of the current level of patient experience and leads to new initiatives and corrective actions that do not properly address the needs of the patient. To address this disconnect, providers are encouraged to create patient advisory councils that add power to the voice of the patients, adjust CAHPS analysis techniques to account for known limitations, and increase the frequency of leadership rounds that prompt patient interaction.6 These suggestions are based on current efforts that have been implemented based on patient-centricity and represent just a few of the countless possibilities.

Regardless of the accuracy of the data gathered, properly evaluating the level of the patient experience requires understanding what quality of care is to the patient. An extensive research initiative in 2014, led by the Patient Experience Journal, highlighted six key performance indicators patients used when assessing the quality of their care. These were the level of provider participation in care, staff courtesy, self-reported health status, staff follow-up, waiting, and medical explanations.7 Based on these findings, it is apparent that patients place a much higher value on interpersonal interaction than the provider. This is understandable considering the limited knowledge they often possess regarding healthcare services coupled with stress and anxiety that come with health issues. Given an a greater appreciation of these key performance indicators used by patients in evaluating their experience, researchers can better differentiate between patient experience and patient satisfaction while properly aligning efforts to reflect a more accurate picture of patient values.

As the healthcare industry continues to drastically evolve, the challenge of effectively keeping the focus on the patient has grown equally complex. Factors and metrics long since accepted as industry standards have come into question at the same time that industry innovation has created entire new directions to consider. Regardless, the patient experience remains as important as ever. It serves as an essential gauge of quality, that when properly managed, can have profound effects on long-term recovery, patient follow-through, and overall care success. CHI will be further exploring the issues and values associated with the patient experience and many other related topics at our upcoming Healthcare Executive Roundtable on October 15, 2015 in Manhattan. The Roundtable will discuss what patient-centric healthcare value means in the 21st century. This consumer-focused Roundtable Discussion brings the best and brightest healthcare leaders from around the globe together to share their ideas and expertise on the intersection of healthcare value and patient-centricity. Please visit chisite.org/education/healthcare-executive-roundtable for more information.

References

  1. The Beryl Institute. “Defining Patient Experience.” The Beryl Institute. 28 Sept. 2015.
  2. Beattie, Michelle, Douglas J. Murphy, and Iain Atherton. “Instruments to Measure Patient Experience of Healthcare Quality in Hospitals: A Systematic Review.” National Center for Biotechnology. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 23 July 2015. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.
  3. Brown, Claire R. “Where are the Patients in the Quality of Health Care?” International Journal for Quality in Health Care3 (2007): 125-26. Oxford University Press. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.
  4. “Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems (CAHPS).” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 8 June 2015. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.
  5. Wolf, Jason A. “Patient Experience, Satisfaction Not One and the Same.” Hospital Impact. 24 July 2014. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.
  6. Merlino, James I., and Ananth Raman. “Understanding the Drivers of the Patient Experience.” Harvard Business Review. 17 Sept. 2013. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.
  7. Van De Ven, Andrew H. “What Matters Most to Patients? Participative Provider Care and Staff Courtesy.” Patient Experience Journal1 (2014): 131-39. Print.
Joseph Gaspero

About Joseph Gaspero

Joseph Gaspero is a non-profit founder, healthcare thought-leader, serial entrepreneur, and diversity leader. He is passionate and committed to making healthcare and our world a better place. He is the President and Co-Founder of the Center for Healthcare Innovation (CHI), a non-profit research and educational institute that helps patients and providers increase their knowledge and understanding of the opportunities and challenges of maximizing healthcare value to improve health and quality of life. His leadership stems from a wide array of experiences, including founding and operating several non-profit and for-profit organizations, serving in the U.S. Air Force in support of 2 foreign wars, and deriving expertise from his time spent in the healthcare, financial services, and media industries. His skills include strategy, management, entrepreneurship, healthcare, clinical trials, diversity & inclusion, life sciences, research, marketing, and finance. He has lived in 6 countries, traveled to over 30 more, and speaks 3 languages, all which help him view business strategy through the prism of a global, interconnected 21st century. When he is not immersed at the Center for Healthcare Innovation, he spends his time snowboarding backcountry, skydiving, mountain biking, and rock climbing. He is a passionate volunteer for the causes that he cares most deeply about.

Leave a Reply