What do you want your patients to say about their experience? This is a very basic question and one that I pose to leaders, providers and associates at all levels of healthcare organizations. It helps people start to envision the ideal. After years of focusing on patient experience, I’m still surprised to hear providers answer that question with, “Safe, competent care.” Why am I surprised? Because that is a basic expectation. We can’t just expect patients to applaud us for delivering competent, safe care. Yet some providers are still defining that baseline as a good patient experience.
I was recently coaching a physician who defined the desired patient experience as one in which the patient received safe care with good outcomes. This is like expecting shoppers to be excited when a grocery store has food. Their business is to have food. Healthcare’s business is to provide safe, competent medical services. What delights our patients is the way in which the safe, competent care is delivered. Was the entire process from start to finish efficient and respectful of the patient’s time? Were staff and providers friendly, kind, compassionate and empathetic? Was the information clear and delivered in a manner that was useful to the patient?
Steps you can take
When I hear providers tell me that their patients should be impressed with the basics, I know we still have a long way to go in balancing the art and science of medicine. Help providers to recognize the human elements of the patient experience. Share data along with comments. Gather patient stories about their encounters and share with providers so they can gain a greater understanding of what it takes to excel.
Physicians are intelligent people and often a bit competitive. That’s why I cannot believe that even one physician would be satisfied with average. Not one of them would want to see a billboard with their picture on it and a caption that reads, “Proud to be mediocre.” Help them see and believe the value of the total experience.