Patient experience: Where does it actually begin?

The art of patient experience has gained purchase in the healthcare space and, as it has in other vertical industries, among UX gurus and IT shops alike.

“Patient experience is everything, bricks-and-mortar, valet parking, that first greeting is part of the patient experience,” said Sue Schade, principal of StarBridge Advisors and a veteran healthcare CIO.

In fact, experts are already starting to expand the idea of experience beyond hospital walls.

John Supra, vice president of solutions and services at the Care Coordination Institute, added that the patient experience starts in people’s homes, communities and even workplaces.

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Mobile apps that alert users to ED wait times or hospitals that send out Uber drivers to ferry consumers to medical appointments are two increasingly common examples. And Supra said that employers frequently create the expectations their workers have about patient experience.

Taking it a step further: One could argue that the consumer experience of buying an automobile does not begin at the dealership or even car commercials on television but, instead, it starts with the emotions that spark when seeing a shiny new convertible drive down the road.

Can something similar be said for hospitals?

“We need to think about experience more broadly,” Supra said. “I challenge us to think more broadly about where experience starts and ends.”

Yulia Kogan, director of information technology at Northwell Health, is taking on Supra’s challenge.

Hospitals such as Northwell and Ascension, in fact, are already working to broaden the patient experience.

“We can’t speak about experience without pre- and post-visit,” Kogan said.

And that’s just a start. Kogan added that patient experience -- much like the idea of patient engagement -- naturally varies from one person to the next.

“Our challenge is to make sure all patients have a good experience regardless of the physical location or if the services are virtual,” Kogan said.  

Schade echoed that, saying that everyone who touches a patient needs to be consumer-focused.  

“It’s how the users remember the experience,” said Lisa Fewell, director of healthcare innovation at Ascension Information Services. “We may think we’re providing a great experience but their perspective rules the day.”

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