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We made our care better—patients didn’t notice

by James Reichert

How do you judge an experience? By what happened? Or what didn’t happen? Do you compare it to what you expected? Experiences are complex and subjective. And a positive experience isn’t simply linked to a specific outcome. All of this means that measuring, tracking, and analyzing data related to the patient experience can be very challenging. Let me share an example:

A few years ago we started a few initiatives to improve quality of care across the board at CHI. We started by focusing on a few foundational things, like lowering infection rates. We looked at which supplies and methods worked best for teams across the enterprise, and then created best practices around that data.

We monitor our changes through a three-year lens, which is longer than most organizations, because we want to ensure our changes are both positive and long lasting. On top of that, we also look at improvements that are specific to each hospital, and have the ability to look at data on a patient-by-patient basis so if we need to, we can analyze any change on an individual level. All of these efforts continue to result in a significantly reduced variance in the quality of care, which directly translates to an improvement in the overall level of care.

In fact, we’ve seen double-digit improvements in the quality of our care, specifically in the area of patient safety. There were fewer infections acquired in the hospital, less mortality, and less frequent patient harm/safety events. With all these improvements, you would think that patient experience ratings would naturally increase as well.

Interestingly, we found patient experience scores stayed exactly the same.

So we went back to the data to look for new possibilities. We’re currently looking at three specific areas we can improve that we believe will have a positive impact on future patient experience: employee engagement, provider satisfaction and provider engagement.

Ultimately, the most important aspect of care will always be whether or not the patient gets better, but from a care provider perspective, we want the experience to be as positive as possible too. We’re confident we’re building a better baseline for positive patient experiences. With new initiatives to help track trends and new data, we’re excited to look at cracking the code on the complexities of patient experience. So the next time you’re asked to rate your experience, know that we’re listening.

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