The Beryl Institute’s The State of the Patient Experience 2017 defines patient experience in healthcare as “the sum of all interactions shaped by an organization’s culture that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.”
According to the report, respondents say that patient experience [82%], employee engagement [46%], and cost management [37%] are their top priorities at least through 2020. Is there a correlation here?
Finding connections in service pain points:
Looking at those three priorities, they are all connected as an interdependent triangle. As we know, higher employee engagement leads to WOW customer service through personal emotional connections [PECs], hiring and training, and a values-support culture. With a commitment to delivering patient and customer service promises, organizations have to commit to the individuals who are delivering it. Cost management or cost reduction is a positive consequence of increased productivity, decreased turnover, and avoidance of burnout and stress [costing about $300 billion a year for US employers]. With a strong consensus to prioritize these areas, how can healthcare organizations make improvements on a grand scale?
Aligning for a better patient and employee experience:
As for stumbling blocks to improvement, 31% of respondents from a recent survey from HealthLeaders Media said that their biggest challenge was with the difficulty of changing organizational culture. To note, the respondents from the survey included c-suite officers, directors, senior vice presidents, and other high-ranking officials in the healthcare industry.
An interesting observation in the same survey noted that the second-highest stumbling block, abundance of other priorities [27%], significantly accumulated more responses than the abundance of higher priorities [7%]. From this, we can infer that leadership roles are not prioritizing culture change from the top-down, although they recognize its importance. Not only does an effective culture change require alignment, but it also needs guided self-awareness on an organizational and individual level.
If we’re finding that transforming healthcare culture is difficult in the pursuit of bettering customer experience, there must be some unseen gaps in executive alignment within the organization. So how can large agencies like health systems implement and maintain patient- and customer-centric cultures? They can achieve this through executive alignment and systematic integration of a values-based culture program.
A glimpse of our work with Northwell Health:
Healthcare systems such as Northwell Health, have pursued integrated culture programs to engage their workforce further and improve patient services and interactions. Our coachsulting work with Northwell Health in 2015 produced a strong rollout of their Culture of C.A.R.E [connectedness, awareness, respect, and empathy]; including the design and creation of sub-programs for their employees, executives, and culture leaders.
By 2017, they scored its highest HCAHPS ever, and employee engagement rates jumped from 45% to 85%. From the top-down, executives and front-office staff were living the values and behaviors outlined in their Culture of C.A.R.E. With a goal of reaching the 90th percentile in patient experience, Nothwell Health is set up for success.
Our coachsulting work with systems like Northwell Health has shown us how a values-based culture can transform its employees for an improved patient experience. We can coach and set alignment for teams, individuals, and executives.