Do measures to improve patient experience increase quality of care, hospital efficiency, and patient loyalty?
Hospital benchmarking traditionally used a range of standardized indicators – for example length of stay or death rates. Using patient experience as a measure of excellence is a more inclusive approach. The Economist Intelligence Unit looked into recent studies and examples and found evidence that interventions to improve patient experience also improve clinical outcomes, hospital efficiency, and patient loyalty.
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A commonly used definition of patient experience is that from The Beryl Institute, who define it as “The sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care” .
Patient experience is not something that can be solved with a one size fits all solution, but by thinking about intervention targets it is possible to build a complementary package of interventions that will benefit patients and staff, and improve financial performance. However, as with all systems thinking, implementation is critical. To facilitate this the following is recommended as good starting points:
- Hospitals should focus on improving patient experience throughout the continuum of care, including by engaging patients and families before admission and post-discharge, thereby improving both outcomes and sustaining patient loyalty
- Positive patient experience has been associated with improved outcomes across the board, including financial performance like increase net margin , clinical outcomes and care delivery, as well as higher staff morale and increased workforce productivity. For example, one study found that an initiative to improve patient experience in one hospital resulted in a 4.7% reduction in employee turnover .
- Efforts should be made across a range of implementation targets: patients, staff, system, and interfaces of care, both inside and outside the hospital
- Institutional or facility design will help ensure that patient experience interventions are embedded in the workplace and improvements are sustainable . Alongside the implementation of patient experience interventions, it is critical to put in place mechanisms to measure impact and regularly review progress
- When implementing patient experience interventions, ensure alignment of values and objectives between management and staff