Which Week Isn’t Patient Experience Week?
April 29, 2016
This is Patient Experience Week, but which week is not about the patient experience? During which week does a single patient matter less in what we do?
Since the early 1980s when I began working in healthcare, I have fought with the idea that the human experience (whether a patient or not) is somehow separated from events, goals, outcomes, and the economy that positions it socially.
At the Beryl Institute Patient Experience Conference a few weeks ago, I was reminded of why this fight is so important. This community is defining the “what,” “how,” and “why” of the patient experience movement. It is committed to integrating the experience conversation across all aspects of care.
Beryl’s definition of the patient experience, which was reiterated in each session at the conference, is: “The sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.”
From this, we can assume that the patient experience is additive. That every event is counted in totality. That the culture of the hospital informs how the patient lives through it.
And, that the experience itself flows from one department or specialty to the next.
What Else is There Besides the Patient Experience?
The patient experience is all there is. Yes, a complex and growing system exists around caring for the ill. The question, however, is whether healthcare providers are willing to consider the “how” they interact as important as the interaction itself.
This would be a healthcare system where the voice of the patient cannot be separated from the patient, just as the voice of nurses or physicians cannot be separated from their clinical practice and ethos of caring. But, the patient experience has yet to be fully integrated into hospital operations, clinical practices, and staff responsibilities.
Are healthcare providers willing to demand that those whose products and services center around the patient experience show how they service human outcomes beyond their function? It must be more than efficiency and productivity, which are shallow if they do not lead to an optimal experience for patients, families, and caregivers.
The challenge in front of the healthcare industry is to move the patient experience from the back of the room to the front of the room. Healthcare providers should ask with every decision whether ultimately the patient experience is improved or threatened.
And, since the path through every operation and every person leads directly to the patient, that’s how everything should be defined.
It’s important to take time to celebrate healthcare staff that are impacting patients everyday. That’s the purpose of Patient Experience Week.
But we also need to remember that every week is patient experience week.
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