How Patient Experience Has Transformed Healthcare in the Last 10 Years

Cleveland Clinic leaders look back and plan ahead

“When I used to mention patient experience, people would look at me funny and ask ‘What’s that?” says Cleveland Clinic’s Chief Experience Officer Adrienne Boissy, MD, MA. “Now, around the globe, everyone is asking each other about what they’re working on and how we all can design systems that care. I love that.”

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Over the past 10 years, the patient experience movement has transformed healthcare. The industry is well over the hump of the adoption curve. But healthcare’s transformation will continue — especially in the thoughtful use of technology and how it creates a high-touch experience.

This year’s Patient Experience: Empathy + Innovation Summit, hosted May 13-15 in Cleveland, will look back at the past decade and prepare all of us to leap forward. Presenters, including executives, designers, patient experience champions and caregivers, will share what has worked, what hasn’t and what experience innovation is around the corner.

Here, some of Cleveland Clinic’s executives also look back, reflecting on how patient experience has changed their work in the last 10 years and will continue to impact it for decades to come.

Carmen Kestranek, Senior Director, Experience Intelligence: “Healthcare originated as a patient-centric profession. Doctor visits occurred in the comfort of a patient’s home, with their family as key partners.

“Then, due in part to advancing treatment options, healthcare moved to clinics and hospitals. Unintentionally, care practices and policies began centering on facilities and providers, at times drifting from what patients and families wanted.

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“Now, we are asking how we can better empower and engage the patient — and, ironically, how we can get back into their homes with technology. It’s great to see everyone seeking tools, technology and platforms to reinforce and once again focus on relationships.”

Linda McHugh, Chief Human Resource Officer: “The focus on patient experience has helped us more fully understand what truly matters to patients and their families. But that also brings up how we take care of our own people to make sure they’re at their best every day.

“At Cleveland Clinic we created an Office of Caregiver Experience. The office focuses on listening to our caregivers, using new engagement platforms to create community. It also addresses emerging issues like workplace violence and unconscious bias. We have to design our environment to enable caregivers to thrive over their lifetime, just as we do for our patients.”

Cynthia Deyling, MD, Chief Quality Officer: “The best improvements in quality and safety occur when we truly listen to the voice of our patients. Partnering with patients and their families on quality initiatives makes care safer and improves outcomes. Patients should be able to speak up, and we owe it to them to seek out their perspective to inform our decision making and priorities.

“I have tremendous appreciation for how much patients bring to the table when we create the space. It’s a real reminder that empathy and relationships are what brought us to the healthcare profession to begin with.”

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Adrienne Boissy, MD, MA, Chief Experience Officer: “In early days, patient experience efforts involved training healthcare professionals in service or scripting. We used to use patient focus groups for feedback. Now we include patients on planning teams. It feels less about ‘what’ and more about ‘how.’

“We used to talk about making patients happier and being kinder. Now we talk about operational empathy and making everything easier for patients and families.

“We used to do just what the government mandated in terms of measuring patient satisfaction. Now we are thinking beyond traditional, required surveys to point-of-service capture.

“We used to focus on the inpatient experience. Now it’s about lifelong relationships.”

For more information on the 10th annual Patient Experience Summit or to register, visit empathyandinnovation.com.