Healthcare News & Insights

Who should be in charge of improving patient experience?

When it comes to providing a positive patient experience, there are two groups of providers who are essential for this outcome: nurses and physicians. But, when it comes to leading the effort to improve the patient experience, one group is being passed by.

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A recent survey by the Beryl Institute, a patient experience advocacy organization, asked executives how many of them had the following medical professionals holding primary roles and accountability for addressing patient experience:

  • 3% said they had physicians or other clinicians
  • 1% said they had chief medical officers, and
  • 14% said they had chief nursing offers.

So what was the most common form of patient experience leadership, if a medical professional wasn’t in charge?

A “committee” was the answer given by 26% of the executives. Twenty-two percent said a “dedicated patient experience executive.”

The survey questioned 1,072 executives at 672 organizations.

Gaining traction

While patient experience is about just that, for hospitals it’s more of an overall effort to improve quality and outcomes by implementing protocols for coordinated care, communication and staff responsiveness.

And improving the patient experience is one of the main concerns of hospitals, especially now as it’s being tied to payments focused on quality outcomes. So it would seem logical that a physician would be in charge of the patient experience effort.

While that was true when the patient experience movement first started, experience has shown it’s not necessary for the patient experience leader to hold a medical degree. And if you think physicians are the only people physicians will listen to when it comes to advice on patient experience, think again.

“Physicians are intelligent people, and they will listen to others who aren’t their peers in terms of health care and well-being,” Jason Wolf, PhD, president of the Beryl Institute, told American Medical News.

Lack of support

However, the lack of involvement by physicians is seen as a major barrier to improving the patient experience by 29% of the executives surveyed.

Some physicians don’t buy into the whole “patient experience” movement. These physicians see their role as solving medical issues patients have, not making sure they enjoy their stay in the hospital.

Improving the patient experience is a team effort, but there seems to be disagreement as to what physicians’ involvement should be — leader or just an integral part of the team.

What do you think? How involved should physicians be in improving the patient experience?

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