By: Alison Saine, Director Patient Insights & Experience for Sodexo Global Healthcare
Ten years ago it was enough to treat patients’ clinical needs—if the medical or surgical treatments were a success, the patient left satisfied. Improving the patient experience was a supplemental priority for hospitals. Now patients and potential patients pay attention to how they receive clinical treatments and how healthcare providers communicate with them both before and after they leave the hospital. Their perception of care drives hospital revenue and reimbursements, hence making Patient Experience a core element of healthcare services.
This is an important shift, but it has also brought about new challenges for our industry. For instance, what is patient experience? The Beryl Institute, a global community of practice dedicated to improving the patient experience, defines patient experience as the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care. Sodexo has found that we must work with each partner to understand how each culture and organization chooses to improve patient experience. Understanding what it is, what does a shift to prioritize patient experience mean for the industry?
For hospitals and healthcare centers to have a competitive edge, they must not only deliver high-caliber clinical services, they must deliver an experience that patients will remember positively. Today’s patients discuss their treatment on social media and other platforms, so how a patient perceives his or her experience can influence many other people in their healthcare decisions.
Patient experience has been shown to be a key factor in patient decision making about service providers. In addition, at least 25% of CMS reimbursements to hospitals is tied to patient satisfaction scores. The Hospital Advisory Board estimates that, on average, patient perception of care accounts for $4 million of annual income per hospital. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Studies, which looks only at government-funded treatment, cites that of the $1.5 billion reimbursed in the 2016 fiscal year, $450 million was directly tied to patient experience and perception of care.
Now that we recognize this trend, what does it mean for our clients and how do we capitalize on it? The most important thing hospitals and health centers can do is reassess how they interact with their patients across the continuum of care.
At Sodexo, we’ve created three pillars to guide our patient experience strategy among employees:
- Promote our culture by focusing on Quality of Life
- Measure and understand patient perception
- Drive our employees to take action from the data and improve
Using these pillars, we can drive development and sustainable change for our patients even after their care is completed.
Focusing on patient experience will allow us to improve the patients’ perception of clinical instruction, improve outcomes, and set a standard that can’t be matched. Sustainable long-term maintenance and attention to patients—both during and after care—will create an emphasis on their experience that they will want to talk about.
Have ideas or recognize trends involving the patient experience? Let us know!