“N” of One Holds the Key to the Patient Experience
November 3, 2017
Those of us in healthcare often talk about how difficult it is to study the patient experience because of variables that are not only complex but subjective and unique.
How do we generalize what can be only understood when we deeply investigate the circumstance and motivation for an individual patient’s answers to our questions?
How do we distinguish and respect patients for who they are as individuals and what happens to them from their perspective?
Because the value of each patient’s perspective is greater than the value of a group of patients whose responses have been filtered through anonymous surveys and statistics that reduce everything to nameless numbers.
Power of the “N” of One in the Patient Experience
Like the number of people in a research study, the “N” of one, a single patient story, is what staff members take home with them each evening. They think about the one patient that touched them, whose story engaged and demanded every ounce of skill and dedication they have.
For them, this one patient is the most important person at this moment in time.
However, for patients, being an “N” of one is not good enough. They want nurses and doctors to know them and the conditions and risks they are living through. And, statistics are even more meaningless to them.
They also want to be important enough so that staff members do take them home and think about what might make them heal faster and better.
The evidence that patients gather in the hospital by looking at the walls, hearing the daily banter and noises, and interacting with staff members who hold the key to their recovery is all they need to know. They really are not concerned with any other patient’s point of view.
They lived it. They know what happened to them. And each of them holds the key to understanding what is needed to make the patient experience better.
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