Top 5 Trends in Patient Experience

June 23, 2015 Pansy Lee

Patient experience continues to be an evolving area within healthcare. While acting on compliments and complaints are big components of patient experience initiatives, it also goes beyond it to include clinical outcomes, doctor and nurse engagement, population health and examining hospital culture. Below are the top 5 trends that have come out of this past Patient Experience: Empathy & Innovation Summit.


The two drivers that are moving healthcare towards transparency is Value Based Purchasing—where payment is linked to healthcare quality—and the consumers’ appetite for reviews. Today, consumers will look up reviews for a $10 toaster before they commit to buying it—so it should come to no surprise that they have come to expect that same type of transparency when choosing their healthcare providers. Hospitals started by sharing physician HCAHPS scores internally but with names masked, and then slowly moved to sharing them internally without masking the names. Naturally, this fostered an environment of healthy competition amongst physicians and encouraged them to try and improve their scores, which then led to improved hospital scores. Leaders in this space have gone beyond simply sharing these HCAHPS internally, as these scores can now be found on hospital websites for anyone who wishes to see them.

Have you considered publishing your data? Transparency can seem like a scary thing but you don’t have to jump straight to publishing your information online. Start by drilling down on your data. Look at it by physicians, nurses and departments. Send them their own scores, then send them their scores compared with their peers and work your way up to publishing them internally and eventually externally when your organization is ready.

Nurse & Physician Engagement & Communication

It’s no secret that physicians and nurses are feeling overworked. They’re feeling pulled in all different directions and they just need to get through a waiting room full of patients. Often times, patient engagement is not high on their priority list, despite being the most important. However, in order to have patient engagement, you must first have nurse and physician engagement. They are after all your frontline, and their interactions with patients are those of which affect your HCAHPS scores the most.

Looking for ways to improve nurse & physician engagement? Here are a few tips from the Chief Experience Officer Panel:

  • Rate the relationship. Keep your patient engagement score together with your provider scores. It helps you see the correlation between the two.
  • Train the trainer. Find physician leaders to be your champions and equip them to coach and shadow each other.
  • Peer-led workshops. Make sure communication and patient engagement workshops are led by their peers. Physicians lead physician workshops, nurses lead nursing workshops.
Broadening Role of Healthcare

People end up in the healthcare system for all sorts of reasons. Some are accidents, like falling off your bike or breaking an arm, and some are lifestyle related, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease or obesity. Many of these lifestyle related diseases are exacerbated by things like financial stress, poor food choices or mental health issues like depression. Despite not being in the business of tackling social issues, the reality is that the resulting health problems will eventually trickle down to the healthcare level—in fact, 10% of patients are using 60% of healthcare resources. As such, forward thinking hospitals are looking more closely at population health, as well as potentially moving up the value chain with service offerings that include finance management, to head off some of the factors contributing to these health related issues so they can be treated earlier as well as reduce readmissions.

Looking for some out of the box thinking? Check out this article in the NY Times on Iora Health and how they use a “Worry Score” to help their patients stay healthy: read more.

Patient experience is more than just service excellence

Beryl Institute defines patient experience as, “the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.”
Traditionally healthcare has been focused on the outcome of a patient’s treatment, which of course is immensely important but a truly excellent patient experience has expanded beyond the treatment outcome. It has also gone beyond simply having fluffy pillows and delicious meals.

Patient experience is just as much about what they got—empathetic interactions with nurses, doctors that take time to build a connection, a smooth parking and check-in process and a meal tailored to your needs—as it is about what you didn’t get, from healthcare associated infections and not falling to not being administered the wrong medication.

Looking for ways to improve your patient experience and reduce harm? Read how Lehigh Valley Health Network is using RL6:Risk and RL6:Feedback.


Organizational culture continues to be high on the list. There has been no shortage of studies on the ability of culture to make or break patient experiences—and let’s not forget patient safety as well. Hierarchical and punitive cultures create organizations where employees are afraid to speak up, and result in patient experiences that are unpleasant and potentially dangerous. The well-known study, Silence Kills, revealed stats where 84% of respondents saw coworkers take shortcuts that endanger patients and 85% of respondents have worked with coworkers who are disrespectful, which made it difficult for them to share concerns or speak up about problems.

Culture does more than just make a hospital a more enjoyable workplace and does more than just make a patient’s immediate experience better, culture also has long term effects on patients because patients who have bad experiences often won’t return. Patients only tend to come back when the health issue they’re faced with has become a major problem in their life, perhaps a stroke or heart attack, and now the hospital has to treat a far more complex problem.

Interested in changing your culture? Read about Wellspan Health’s journey towards building a just culture
Whether you are a nurse, a physician, a patient experience officer, or the parking attendant, everyone plays a role in the patient experience. What are you doing to improve it?

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