By Dr. Gajan Srikanthan, Director Clinical Pathways, Lumeon

Lumeon was pleased to attend the joint Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Summit and Chief Nursing Officer Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona, this week. It was an intimate event, with no more than 120 senior clinical leaders all enthusiastic about the way healthcare is changing, particularly how to embrace value-based care and how to work within accountable care organization structures. Payors, for their part, seemed to be increasingly attuned to the importance of preventative care, managing capacity and care process efficiencies.

Focusing on customer experience

The importance of customer experience was a consistent theme throughout conversations at the conference. That’s no surprise; customer experience will be central to how the healthcare market develops in the next decade.

Melissa Kupiec, Director of Patient Experience at Steward Health Care System laid out some of the key factors driving this focus. Half of current health systems will not exist in ten years due to competition and mergers. Those systems that perform well — in the top quartile — on patient experience will have at least a 4 percent higher margin than those in the lowest quartile.

Organizations that focus on patient experience see improvement in patient, clinical, and financial outcomes. Engaged patients are likely to have a length of stay one day shorter than other patients. The vast majority of patients — 78 percent — would only recommend a provider if they felt the staff worked together to provide care.

Accordingly, patient experience is a strategic priority for all health systems; they need to focus on continuous improvement. Scores from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) are increasing by more than half a point each year, so it’s a race to keep up.

How to improve patient experience 

Key to improving patient experience is understanding the expectations of the patient and helping them realize where those don’t match reality. Every member of the care team needs to know what their role is in improving patient experience and to help make the culture right to enable that change.

One way to improve patient experience is to reduce avoidable suffering. Avoidable suffering is caused by defects in the approach to care delivery, and it’s something that will mar a patient’s experience profoundly. Health systems need to focus on optimizing the care delivery process to prevent unnecessary suffering.

The discharge process presents a great opportunity for improving patient experience. Better patient communication, care team coordination, and discharge readiness assessment are vital to a successful discharge. There are a number of quality improvement initiatives focusing on discharge, but these are usually manual; there may be ways to automate the process to make it even smoother.

Many at the conference were interested in patient education to influence experience. In doing so, health systems need to consider how patients consume content along their care pathway. What’s the best way to deliver it, understand if they have accessed and used it, and offer a mechanism for answering any questions that arise?

In all of these methods of improvement, the focus should be on putting the patient at the center of the care journey. Providers and administrators should be striving to provide the best experience possible, as this has a number of positive outcomes, both clinically and financially.

The right tool for the job

Improving patient experience in one aspect of care is progress, but clinicians and managers are looking to how they can scale their efforts across various departments and care settings. They need tools that will support a trifecta of co-ordination, decision support, and patient engagement — a true enterprise solution that incorporates all aspects of the care journey.

Lumeon is that tool. From a single platform, healthcare providers can manage all aspects of the care journey and clinical pathways, including ensuring care is properly coordinated, information is organized and used effectively, and patients are engaged in their care from beginning to end.

We were happy to share our unique solution with the attendees of the joint conference, and hope to continue our enlightening conversations during many future encounters.