Neil Gulsvig

Continuing our series of articles exploring the 7 key drivers of patient transitions, we are at the third in our series: In the moment patient feedback. As we discussed in our last blog, the identification of expectation gaps, is our second driver, and requires employing strategies to help patients become actively involved in their healthcare. 

As we look to the third driver, in the moment patient feedback, I want to start by looking at the patient experience and understanding that it is an interaction between an organization and a patient, and is defined by the perceptions of each patient. It encompasses both our performance as trusted healthcare providers and the perceptions, feelings, emotions and senses of our patients.

First impressions can easily form lasting memories for the patient. It is our first opportunity to begin to build trust with the patient. And as a patient continues their care journey, having a way to solicit immediate feedback to understand perceptions, concerns and opportunities for service recovery is critical to the patient’s success and ultimately your care and business outcomes.

The best way to gauge how well we are meeting patient expectations on that first day is to ask patients, not after they leave, but while they are in your care. Real time, in the moment patient feedback delivers business and care advantages that post-discharge and satisfaction surveys alone cannot deliver. 

If you are only surveying your patients after they leave you, how can you impact their experience while they are with you? Post-admission in the moment quality checks can provide both quantitative and qualitative data critical to quality improvement initiatives. 

Does your organization have a system for measuring how the patient feels in the moment? Soliciting patients’ initial perceptions soon after admission and during their care helps to:

  • Manage the risk of what you currently don’t know
  • Recognize expectation gaps and drive service recovery
  • Prepare and understand a patient’s readiness to self-manage
  • Deliver real-time staff training opportunities
  • Impact outcomes and readmission rates

Manage the risk of what you currently don’t know and enhance the patient experience

Let’s say a patient has concerns they are never asked to share. This leads to confusion for the patient. When do you want to know this – while they are still in your facility while you can do something about it or after they have left your care? Even the most frustrated customer can become a loyal one when concerns are addressed in a timely manner. By addressing patient needs early and actively, providers have an opportunity to drive positive patient experiences.

Recognize expectation gaps and drive service recovery

When patient needs are repeatedly not met, a patient can easily begin to lose confidence in the care an organization is delivering. By asking the right questions in the moment, you are providing your organization an opportunity to resolve patient concerns before they transition to a lesser level of care. Service recovery allows you to restore trust and confidence and can lead to better patient outcomes.

Additionally, as we begin to recognize themes or trends within the feedback we get from patients, we have an opportunity to closely examine our systems and processes for weaknesses, and implement strategies to improve the process so that failure doesn’t occur again – the essence of continuous quality improvement.

Prepare and understand a patient’s readiness to self-manage

In our rapidly evolving health care environment, it is increasingly important to focus on how well patients do while receiving care in your facility and also how successful they are in transitioning back to the community and staying there. A big factor in a patient’s successful transition home is based on how prepared they are to self-manage.

By using in the moment feedback, you are able to gain an understanding of whether the patient feels prepared in key areas critical to their post-discharge success. This gives your organization an opportunity to focus on areas that you feel the patient still needs help. This provides a tremendous business advantage and can help you align yourself with bundled payment and referrals sources that see your ability to prepare patients successfully.

Deliver real-time staff training opportunities

When you receive patient feedback in real-time, it allows you to easily understand where staff deficiencies are occurring. By knowing the experience your patients are having today, you can quickly address learning and training opportunities with staff to drive more positive outcomes in the future. With real-time data, pinpoint exactly when positive and negative experiences occur and work with specific staff to overcome those challenges that lead to negative patient experiences.  

Impact outcomes and readmission rates

By empowering patients to be active participants in their care, you are encouraging a more engaged consumer. Research supports the fact that the more engaged a customer is, the more likely they are to achieve better outcomes. Through better engagement with in the moment feedback, you have a clear path for meeting your customers’ needs while they are with you. Ultimately, this strategy will position your organization to impact outcomes and readmission rates.

Take action

Gathering in the moment patient feedback soon after admission and during a patient’s stay provides valuable evidence on which providers can base decisions about care, service delivery and the patient experience. Consider these strategies to get started:

  • Ensure that staff are educated on the concepts of patient engagement and the patient experience and their value. Incorporate it into orientation for new employees.
  • Establish a tool that includes both quantitative and qualitative data collection. While quantitative data are easier to score, graph, and compare, qualitative data drill down into the reasons and examples behind the ratings, and expose themes within the feedback.
  • Focus queries on the patients’ feelings, perceptions and expectations, and their first impressions. Collect data that is actionable.
  • Don’t be afraid to solicit concerns or complaints.  Better that you hear them now from the patient than learn about them from your satisfaction surveys, the family or even an attorney.

Soliciting in the moment patient feedback soon after admission gives providers an opportunity to better meet the needs of each patient and implement quality improvement strategies that enhance the experience for patients and ultimately, your organization’s care and business outcomes.

Neil Gulsvig, CEO of Align, has more than 35 years of experience in the field of senior healthcare and extensive knowledge in human resources, communications and operations. Align is focused on developing integrated solutions that help providers reimagine patient experiences through engagement and successful discharge and transition planning.