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CVForward  >  Want to elevate patient satisfaction in your CV service line? Dig deeper into the patient experience.



Gordon B. Wesley

Mark Baker

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Learn how two industry leaders in cardiac care are successfully navigating the shifting healthcare landscape—not by covering more ground, but by looking deeper into the patient experience for actionable insights.

Patient satisfaction, as a quality metric, has become inextricably tied to reimbursement, revenue, and the ability for hospitals to attract and retain patients. But asking questions that measure “happiness” may not provide the actionable insights needed to inform improvement and how best to achieve it.1,2

Redefining what’s meaningful to measure

As the industry learns more about patient-centric metrics, the value of measuring patient satisfaction may not be the most accurate way to evaluate performance. Conversely, patient experience, while not a new concept, is being recognized as a metric that provides more useful and actionable data.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the terms patient satisfaction and patient experience are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. Having a clear understanding of the difference can help health systems implement more effective patient-centric strategies.3

Patient satisfaction: measures the relationship between patient expectations and patient perceptions. They can be highly subjective, have little to do with the hospital’s performance, and render an institution powerless in its ability to have a positive influence.3
Patient experience: defined as the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization's culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.5
Positive interactions are at the heart of cath lab experiences
Gordon B. Wesley, DBA, FACHE, explains, “Interactions are a particularly critical factor in the cath lab because patients come to us from virtually any arena of health care and community. That means we must rely on the providers at all previous touchpoints to create positive patient experiences. If there is an issue for the patient along the way, we have to work that much harder to build back the patient’s trust.”  

Small changes that can make a big impact on patient experience

  • Build relationships with the department from which your patients are transferring
  • Inform those departments you are willing to help them prepare the patient for transfer
  • Communicate with key departments your patient has or will come in contact with to help guide the encounter
  • Engage with and connect to the person, not just the patient

Transparency can help relieve anxiety for patients, so keep them informed about when you’re behind schedule, explain the procedure and what to expect, and be sure to communicate calmly and confidently.

"No matter which department your patient is transferring from, it’s critical that the culture you create helps ensure every interaction is a positive one—not just because you are required to do so or that it will help your institution be more competitive. It’s critical because it’s the right thing to do."

Gordon B. Wesley, DBA, FACHE

Creating a culture that improves the patient experience
According to a benchmark study conducted by the Beryl Institute, the following 8 essential actions have been identified for organizations committed to improving the patient experience.6
  1. Identify and support accountable leadership with committed time and focused intent to shape and guide a patient experience strategy
  2. Establish and reinforce a strong, vibrant, and positive organizational culture
  3. Develop a formal definition for what experience means to your organization
  4. Implement a defined process for continuous patient and family input and engagement
  5. Engage all voices in driving comprehensive, systemic, and lasting solutions
  6. Look beyond the clinical to all interactions and touch points of care
  7. Focus on alignment across all segments of the continuum and the gaps in between
  8. Encompass both a focus on healing and a commitment to well-being into your patient experience strategy

"One way to improve the patient experience is to realize that health extends beyond the confines of a hospital or cath lab. You have to understand who your patients are—not just through a community needs assessment—but by getting out there to witness how the patients in your community live."

Cardiovascular Service Line Director
Platte Valley Medical Center

4 forward-thinking strategies for redefining patient experiences
Remember that health happens beyond the 4 walls of the hospital
According to Baker, “The social determinants of health are factors that impact our patient community in all the ways that matter. Getting out into the community helps us to see how housing conditions, socioeconomic status, social barriers, or educational challenges are affecting our patients. Only then can we address barriers that prevent patients from having positive experiences and better outcomes.”  

Create an exceptional community experience
Baker shares details about one of many successful community events that take place every year at Platte Valley Medical Center. “We created a lady’s night event to draw women from the community into the hospital to mingle and receive free health assessments,” says Baker. “That event now serves about 900 women of all ages. We provide dinner and dancing, but more importantly we’re able to provide free screenings for breast cancer, peripheral vascular disease, and osteoporosis.”

Baker goes on to explain that this type of event can help providers get to know members of the community, capture a snapshot of community health, and in some cases, identify illnesses in their early stages.

Make family part of the patient experience
Wesley explains that his health system has programs that focus on improving not just the patient experience, but also the engagement of families. “A program should be designed around getting the family to experience the hospital, so they’re reassured about the care their loved one is receiving,” says Wesley.

“This can be done by taking them on a tour of the facilities. We want the families to be able to breathe in the culture, to see how clean, caring, and quiet it is. says Wesley.  

Help people take measures now to avoid becoming patients later
Both Baker and Wesley agree that reaching out to young people in the community may help build a generation of healthier adults. Wesley explains that getting out into the communities and talking to young people about cardiovascular disease is critical. “You start the conversation now to help young people avoid issues with heart disease later. You build relationships today so young people won’t be afraid to seek care later in life.”
The patient experience is personal
Wesley and Baker both tip their hats to institutions such as Ascension Health, the Cleveland Clinic, UCLA, and the Mayo Clinic for implementing excellent patient experience programs, but they also recognize that not all institutions have the resources to do so. Implementing patient experience programs can be costly, especially for many small- and medium-size health systems. Baker points out, “Something as simple as going the extra mile for patients and their families can go a long way.”

"Improving the patient experience doesn’t necessarily require a huge investment. There are many ways to add value to your care offering."

Cardiovascular Service Line Director
Platte Valley Medical Center

“It’s about building relationships and building trust,” concludes Wesley. “To us, it’s much more than a business proposition. It’s personal. We want patients to experience what it’s like to be treated with empathy, dignity, and respect throughout the continuum of care.”


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