It’s easy to assess (and improve!) the patient experience in existing inpatient and outpatient facilities. Here’s how, with inspiration from Matthew May, to improve an organization’s focus on empathy. First things first, drop the data (just for now and only for a moment…)
- Observe a patient(s). Ask a patient if they’re open to being followed during their entire visit/stay. An easy way to start would be with a planned admission. Proceed cautiously with a patient who first presented to the emergency room. Outpatient facilities should provide several opportunities in a single day.
- Become a patient. One way is to actually become ill and require health care services. Sometimes that’s realistic, sometimes not. The other is to become a patient just for the day. Pluses and minuses for both, but an actual immersion into a patient’s shoes is the best way to experience health care.
- Include the patient(s). This is easy, too. Plenty of people are willing to talk to just about anyone about their health care experiences. Ask a patient or a group of patients to participate in a focus group. Structure the conversation—but not too much; this is about listening to the patient’s observations, thoughts, wants, and desires.
There it is. Three easy ways to start assessing the patient’s experience. Start changing what can be changed tomorrow.