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Patient experience a top priority for hospital executives

While patient experience is a top priority for hospital executives it is still largely undefined finds a new study by the Beryl Institute, an organization advocating for better patient experiences within the healthcare system. The study of more than 790 hospital executives examined the state of the patient experience in the nation’s hospitals and identified the greatest roadblocks to implementing change.

According to the research, patient experience is one of the top three priorities facing hospital executives over the next three years. Patient experience/patient satisfaction was ranked number two (21 percent) behind quality/patient safety (31 percent). Cost reduction was ranked number three at 9 percent.

Despite its importance, the majority of hospital executives (73 percent) do not have a formal definition for patient experience. As a result, they are addressing the issue tactically, with the top three priorities being:

• Noise Reduction
• Discharge Process and Instructions
• Patient Rounding

“Patient experience is on the radar of hospital executives, especially since Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores will soon affect reimbursement,” said Jason Wolf, executive director of the Beryl Institute. “However, the data shows that executives are still grappling with how to implement change within their organizations.”

Despite the challenges that hospitals have in wrapping their arms around the issue of patient experience, nearly two-thirds of respondents (61 percent) felt positive or very positive (25 percent) about their progress in addressing the issue. The most common structure for improving patient experience is a small committee (42 percent) that meets on a monthly basis.

“Half of the respondents identified the biggest roadblock to making change as the organization’s culture. That’s why cultural transformation plays such an important role in improving the patient experience,” said Paul Spiegelman, CEO of the Beryl Companies. “It’s all about the patient’s perspective. We will not be able to improve the patient experience until we begin taking an inside-out approach, rather than an outside-in approach.”

The study, conducted in collaboration with Catalyst Healthcare Research, reflects the opinions of respondents from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with representation from independent hospitals (51 percent) and hospital groups/systems (49 percent), and urban (30 percent), suburban (29 percent) and rural (39 percent) hospitals. Participants were from not-for-profit (77 percent), for-profit (15 percent) and academic medical centers (4 percent). It was conducted online from March 7 – 23, 2011.

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