The Importance of Patient Experience – More than Comments on Hospital Food?

3308600_c71c6e180e_mThe last 2 weeks was a great opportunity to share much the latest research that we had conducted over the last 2 years on Patient and Customer Experience in Healthcare.

The healthcare sector is certainly coming alive this month as I recently completed one of my busiest schedules having delivered 4 consecutive speeches at the Health Insurance Summit, the Health Informatics Society of Australia conference, an Executive Breakfast on Sustainable Patient-Centred Healthcare and the CPA Australia Health and Aged Care Sector conference.

In my travels, I was amazed to learn that many healthcare executives are still trying to get their heads around understanding the importance of patient experience.

Intuitively, everyone believes it is the right thing to do.

Yet, often in Australia there is a sense that if you ask a patient about their hospital experience, then the answers that are likely to come back are comments about the food.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In 2009, the Mid-Staffordshire crisis in the NHS showed that one of the major reasons for multiple service failures and safety issues was the lack of transparency and disconnect between senior management and front-line staff and patients. Feedback from patients on safety and quality issues were largely ignored.

It began a whole ‘patient revolution’ in the NHS that mandated the need to collect and analyse feedback from patients, and turn the insights into meaningful actions for improvement.

Whilst this may seem like ‘additional work’ for already busy ward staff, according to Sir Robert Naylor, CEO of University College London Hospitals, measuring patient experience provides an early indicator of safety and quality, helping to prevent them from occurring.

The philosophy of being sensitive to front line experience, feedback and comments in order to improve organisational performance may be relatively new to healthcare, but it is well known in the business world.

At one of the conferences, it was mentioned that a former CEO of ANZ bank had a direct line to the Head of the Complaints Department, and wanted a daily update of what customers were complaining about, so he could clearly understand the customers voice through all the ‘noise’ from management layers in his organisation. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, was also known for reading and responding to customer feedback e-mails himself, so he could get his team to make improvements in Apple products fast, before any major reputational damage.

Indeed, there is a clear trend that smart leaders with decision-making ability need to obtain front-line feedback fast, so improvements can be made quickly. Digital platforms such as the MES Experience platform, which we’ve brought in from the UK and are currently pilot in Sydney Local Health District, is allowing deeper insights from patient experience feedback to be collected, and sent to senior management in real-time.

I’d love to know how you are measuring and analysing patient experience in your hospital and how that’s working for you. Simply leave a reply below.

Dr Avnesh Ratnanesan
About the Author: Dr Avnesh Ratnanesan

Dr Avi is a medical doctor with broad healthcare sector experience including hospitals, biotech, pharmaceuticals and the wellness industry. He is a leading expert who coaches and consults to senior executives, entrepreneurs, practitioners, organisations and governments.



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