Patient Experience: The sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization's culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care. The Beryl Institute
Last week, Thursday, Oct. 25, I attended a Beryl Institute PopUp meeting. Hosted by Kaiser Permanente, the meeting brought together patient experience practitioners from a variety of mostly Northern California-based providers. Also attending were representatives of several solution providers. The meeting, though brief, was jam packed with helpful information enthusiastically delivered by some very committed, very accomplished professionals. The event was inspiring...
If you’re not familiar with The Beryl Institute, it is probably the most prominent and authoritative organization in the world devoted exclusively to improving the patient experience. We at Loyale came to know the Institute while researching developments in Patient Experience. Based on the breadth and intelligence of the resources it offered, it became clear that no other organization was doing more to unite stakeholders across the industry to advance this important cause. The organization’s influence has only grown since then.
The principle reason for The Institute’s growth is its highly engaged membership of PX professionals. “Content is never a problem for us”, explained Beryl Institute’s CEO, Jason A. Wolf, PhD, CPXP when we spoke briefly late in the afternoon. “Our members and their journeys represent the best in Patient Experience.”
Jason kicked off the afternoon with an excellent presentation featuring The Institute’s 2018 Consumer Survey. But the rest of the afternoon belonged to healthcare providers and the professionals who have been tasked with bringing together colleagues in a variety of disciplines and departments to materially improve patient experiences at every touch point.
The agenda for the afternoon was defined by the attendees. Each person “voted” for their favorite agenda item from a comprehensive list of relevant PX topics. Each of the six winning topics were then addressed by members who selected the three topics that were most interesting to them. The Berkeley PopUp event’s six topics were:
- Supporting Patient Experience from an Integrated Approach
- Employee Engagement and Accountability
- Leveraging Patient Experience Data and Feedback
- Organizational Culture and Sustainability
- Service Recovery
- Technology and the Patient Experience
I would have gladly participated in discussions on all six, as well as others that didn’t make the list. But because there was time for only three, and because we are a technology company focused on the patient’s financial experience - I chose 1, 3, and 5. My observations, as well as notes taken from each group’s facilitator at the day’s end, appear below.
Supporting Patient Experience from an Integrated Approach
Integration in this context was not related to technology directly. Rather, it had to do with the importance of engaging with professionals in multiple areas in order to effect meaningful organizational change. A group member who led her organization’s environmental services function described their early success engaging with caregivers and others, working with a cross-disciplined committee to study and attack the challenge from multiple angles. And, by doing so, addressing not just patient experience but quality and safety as well (e.g., fewer unattended spills = fewer falls).
A Care Experience Leader from another provider, stressed the “power of stories” when describing how her organization helps turn corporate directives and data into compelling cultural calls to action. Based on the Beryl Institute’s definition of patient experience (see above), it’s easy to see how stories can connect with people who haven’t thought of themselves as contributors to the patient’s experience. This was communicated even more succinctly at the end of the day with the phrase, “Never present data without a story or a story without data.”
The group also discussed the importance of focused leadership, a willingness to invest in initiatives with a longer ROI horizon, a culture of trust and rigorous on-boarding.
Leveraging Patient Experience Data and Feedback
Several group members’ responsibilities focused on the patient satisfaction data currently being generated by and for The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). These data are particularly compelling. First, because the data is being collected and secondly, the outcomes can directly impact provider reimbursement revenue. Consequently, managing to consistently achieve performance standards is an ongoing operational and business imperative. The organizations at this event have dedicated considerable resources to understanding and acting upon these data.
Importantly, another business imperative was also acknowledged; gathering and using qualified patient data. This refers to information gleaned from patient surveys, social media comments and other crucial business intelligence sources that fall well outside the purview of any CMS instrument. Early in the day, Jason urged us to think about “The Stories that Patients Tell”. It’s this dimension of intelligence that successful consumer-facing companies in industries other than healthcare use to improve customer and engagement and drive growth. It’s time for healthcare to catch up. Those that don’t will be left behind.
Technology and the Patient Experience
Referencing the Beryl Institute’s consumer survey, the group considered the patient demand, “Listen to me!” Technology was recognized as the enabler that providers must rely on to achieve many of their PX goals. However, the group agreed that technology must be simplified or “flattened” to avoid non-adoption – both internally and externally by patients.
Internally, technology should be leveraged to “make the right thing the easiest thing to do.”, while driving operational efficiencies. Externally, technology should drive patient affordability – a topic that is of course especially important to me and my teammates at Loyale.
The group talked about digital patient engagement as a way to enrich the patient’s experience by providing relevant, worthwhile content and removing obstacles to care. Technologies like online chat, financial planning, QR codes on print material and videos (administrative, clinical and financial). Later, a presentation of Kaiser Permanente’s model for CoDesign, helped us all imagine how to engage colleagues and patients to collaborate in the design of technology and processes to more perfectly meet patient expectations.
At one point in the day, an attendee representing Kaiser Permanente distilled the theme of the afternoon’s overall agenda – “Don’t chase the score. Change the culture.” This resonated for a number of reasons. First, it acknowledges that human interactions in a healthcare setting are personal, intimate and often charged with emotion. No scorecard can capture the nuances that affect people positively or negatively. Second, it’s consistent with the Beryl Institute’s succinct definition of the patient experience as “the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture...”. Successfully connecting with patients and their families requires empathy, compassion, and consistency. Qualities that are best achieved when an organization’s culture promotes them.
I look forward to attending more Beryl Institute events. Institute members’ passion for patient experiences and the success they’re realizing energizes and encourages me. In so many ways, these practitioners – caregivers, administrators, technologists, solution partners – represent the best, most successful future for American Healthcare.