Creating a transformative patient experience center of excellence

ARTICLE | November 21, 2023

Authored by RSM US LLP

The patient experience is subjective, complex and varies greatly. RSM US LLP recently gathered a panel of professionals at its Virtual Health Care Day to discuss best practices for enhancing the patient experience. They discussed transforming the patient journey, the values and outcomes related to establishing a patient experience center of excellence, the role of technology in the patient experience and key challenges to keep top of mind.

The panel was led by Michael Haas, RSM health care industry senior analyst, and panelists included:

  • Kelli Newman, APR, President, Newman & Newman Inc.
  • Matthew Schlueter, PhD, RN, Chief Nursing Officer, Harris Health
  • Leah Blackwell, Chief Nursing Officer, Memorial Hermann Health System
  • Michael Brown, Health Care Margin Improvement Consulting Director, RSM

From a patient identifying a concern and initiating an interaction with a health care professional to follow-up care, there are many different interactions to analyze and understand. The discussion highlighted different areas to consider in order to build a patient experience center of excellence.

Be authentic

Health care organizations should focus on identifying and staying closely connected to and consistent with their brand promise:

"Putting authentic messaging into action has significant impact on patient satisfaction. Health care professionals need to make sure they are who they say they are, and it is critical to repair any inconsistencies and adjust their communication skills as needed. I am not suggesting scripting, which isn’t authentic. It is important to take advantage of your employees’ skills and experiences to make communications authentic and unique."

Kelli Newman, Newman & Newman Inc.

Most organizations recognize that patients won’t necessarily remember specific words or details of their interactions with health care professionals and systems, but they will remember how their experience made them feel.

Be transparent

Health care organizations continue to face changing consumer demands on care delivery. The transition to a more patient-centric and transparent model presents challenges throughout the entire industry.

"There is a real shift in the health care sector in pricing transparency and empowering patients to be consumers. Patients understand that health care can be an expense that is a burden to their family. It is really important to get information to patients in a timely manner and in advance of services, when possible, to make sure they are prepared and understand what options are available to them. One thing we are excited about is the use of artificial intelligence to identify social determinants of health or financial concerns. Artificial intelligence is in its infancy in health care, but we are on the cusp of being able to leverage it in a more meaningful way."

Michael Brown, RSM US LLP

Embrace technology

A key theme from all the panelists was that technology should supplement traditionally delivered health care, not replace it. Digital and virtual tools, if leveraged correctly, can give health care professionals more time to communicate with patients and improve the overall patient experience as well as employee satisfaction.

"Approximately 500,000 nurses have left the profession and more intend to. By 2030, 1 in 5 people will be on Medicare, so we will be dealing with an aging patient population. As much as we can remove tasks and administrative burden, we want to do that. Tools like automation, virtual nursing and artificial intelligence are key. We want to optimize patient education to create better outcomes and allow nurses to focus on care progression and coordination. By giving them the opportunity to spend more time with their patients, focus on education and a successful discharge plan, we will have happier patients and nurses, better outcomes, and reduced readmission rates."

Leah Blackwell, Memorial Hermann Health System

Additionally, the discussion highlighted the importance of exploring new technologies to increase efficiencies throughout the health care system.

"One of our big concerns is readmissions after discharge, and a common factor is missing follow-up appointments, especially for vulnerable individuals. We are exploring how to better utilize technology to improve outcomes, care access and the patient experience. It is a challenge to change people’s mindsets and get them to embrace technology. We try to reinforce that technology isn’t a replacement for in-person, high-touch care; it is an adjunct that can get you an access point to care that may not have existed before."

Matthew Schlueter, Harris Health

The pandemic pushed almost everyone to leverage technology in a more strategic way. Health care systems are now focusing on meeting patients where they are with technology and providing them with care, information and communications in a way they can consume it.

One of the most important items to keep in mind is that patients and health care professionals do not always perceive their interactions in the same way. Health care organizations must look at data from individuals on the continuum of care and be open to change, respond to and understand feedback, and make appropriate adjustments.

Watch the full panel discussion >

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This article was written by RSM US LLP and originally appeared on 2023-11-21.
2022 RSM US LLP. All rights reserved.

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