Research has shown that there’s a clear link between patient engagement and patient experience. According to the KLAS® report, Patient Engagement, Where Do Vendors Make a Difference, published December 2017, “provider organizations want to know what impact engagement has on the overall patient experience and [believes that] if properly done, patient engagement will lower the cost of care, while improving overall patient health.”
UPMC Enterprises’ Senior Product Manager for ParlaiQ, Jody Madala states, “it starts and ends with great communication. Once we take the time to really hear our patients, we are now empowered to acknowledge them, to solve problems they may be having, and to reward our care givers who go above and beyond the requirements of their job to make patients feel supported, cared for and respected.” According to Madala, the most important factor in determining whether or not a patient had a great experience is, “Did someone talk to me about the things I care about?”
From Madala’s perspective, “patient experience is all about how the patient feels about his or her care. It’s more about the human side of medicine, how aware and engaged a patient and his or her family is in the care they are receiving. It’s a very personal judgement.”
According to the KLAS® report, patient engagement is the process of motivating and enabling patients to participate in their own care with the expectation that, over time, outcomes will improve and costs will be reduced. This participation impacts experience.
Patient experience involves the series of interactions that patients have with the health care system, including their care from health plans, and from doctors, nurses, staff in hospitals, and other health care facilities.
At UPMC, this is manifested in many ways, but one significant way is through the Wolff Center, the voice of quality patient care and improvement at UPMC. The Wolff Center partners with UPMC leadership, hospitals, physicians, departments, and insurance colleagues to improve the way health care is delivered to patients. It is the coordinating and connecting function of high quality and safety care and improvement.
Tami Minnier, RN, MSN, FACHE, Chief Quality Officer, UPMC, who oversees the Wolff Center, says the center is a multidisciplinary group of professionals “…dedicated to improving the quality of care, assuring the safety of the environment that our patients are provided care in, and that their experiences within our organization are the best that we can possibly make them.”
Working together, UPMC and the Wolff Center look for opportunities to do things better, every day, to provide better care, fewer errors, less cost, reduced tests, faster recovery, a smoother transition home, and improved long-term outcomes, which ultimately improves health care delivery for patients and members.
Another way patient engagement is encouraged at UPMC is through ParlaiQ, a web-based application that simplifies patient engagement with customizable interviews and real-time feedback. This solution was developed in conjunction with the Wolff Center at UPMC to evaluate patient experience.
By using this digital, qualitative and quantitative data-collection solution, hospital leaders and nurses can address non-clinical, patient-related issues in real-time to ultimately increase patient satisfaction, which has a direct impact on the patient’s experience. Hospital employees can quickly resolve questions or concerns by talking with patients about their care.
Madala believes patient experience is important because “patients are people first, and they are often in very vulnerable positions. Taking excellent care of our patients involves consideration to how they are feeling and experiencing the things happening around them.”
It’s crucial to build a relationship with patients throughout the health care continuum and engage them to understand their needs. Hospital staff should ensure that they’re asking the right questions at the right time to understand the key drivers of experience across the patient journey. Organizations need to develop a culture that influences patient perceptions in a positive and caring way.
Madala said, “Thankfully, [patient experience] is getting more and more important as patients have choices in where and how they get care, so care providers need to think more about the experience they are providing to a patient and family. It’s about more than just the medicine these days.”
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