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We’ve discussed the importance of patient satisfaction – that when people are more satisfied with their care, outcomes and perception of the organization are likely to improve.

However, a recent article in Group Practice Journal, highlighted an important distinction pioneered by Cleveland Clinic – patient satisfaction, while relative, is not synonymous with patient experience. After four years of hosting the Patient Experience: Empathy & Innovation Summit, Cleveland Clinic outlined and implemented a strategy to transform its patient experience for the better.

After seeing measurable success, James Merlino, MD, Chief Experience Officer at Cleveland Clinic and Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer shared their “Top 10 List” for improving patient experience with Group Practice Journal. It includes:

  1. Patients First – Light the North Star
  2. Throw gasoline on the burning platform
  3. Make it personal and talk about empathy
  4. Lead, be visible and make it a strategic priority
  5. Define it and tell people what you expect
  6. Focus the metric and leverage transparency
  7. Execute on the strategy
  8. Engage doctors
  9. Develop your culture and implement service excellence
  10. Partner with your patientsBlog-Graphic-(03.13.14)

To clearly define each step, they are sharing their insight in a two-part series. Here are there takeaways from the first five categories:

  • Patients First – Light the North Star!
    The truest testament to patient-centered care - A service industry needs to think of the customer first, always. In healthcare, regardless of role within the organization, everything must be done to support the patient and done with their needs first.
  • Burn the Platform Urgently
    Organizations must approach improving the patient experience “with a burning sense of urgency.” Why? Because not only is it the right thing to do for patients, it contributes to organization perception and, ultimately, its bottom line.
  • The Other Side
    To put it simply, success involves putting yourself in the patient shoes. Providers must act with empathy and understanding.
  • Be Relentless
    Leading the push for patient experience cannot be an incremental process, and it must be done from the top-down. Messaging should be direct and unyielding – patient experience cannot become just another “flavor of the month.”
  • Define for the Front Line
    Often patient experience is equated with “making patients happy.” While relevant, the patient experience is much more complex and, ultimately, everyone has a different definition of what patient experience means. To be successful, leadership must define what “patient experience” means for their organization. For Cleveland Clinic, patient experience is:
    • First, delivering safe care
    • Second, delivering high-quality care
    • Third, delivering care in an environment of great experience and satisfaction
    • Fourth, delivering care that brings value

What do you consider to be patient experience? Have you successfully implemented strategies to improve it? Let us know in the comments.

And keep with us for the second half of the series, coming next month.