Insights Blog

By Scott Sammon
on Aug 28, 2018
  • Healthcare
5 Ways Healthcare Organizations Can Improve the Patient Experience

The phrase, "the customer is always right," has transcended the retail and business sector and found its way into healthcare. Prioritizing and valuing the patient experience is one of the ways hospitals are standing out amongst competitors. Research done in 2015 by Beryl Institute cited that 43% of hospitals are considering patient experience their paramount concern--and that number has likely risen since the time of the study due to the success of the programs.

What are industry leaders doing to improve the patient experience? How can your organization display your commitment to the patient experience? Below are five leading ways healthcare organizations can improve the patient experience.

Look Outside of Healthcare for Inspiration
A Forbes article emphasized how Dr. David Feinberg takes note of customer service practices from outside of healthcare when discovering inspiration for improving the experience his patients experience.

Feinberg, a Starbucks regular, wonders how baristas can fix mistakes on the spot, but a hospital staff so rarely can offer the same standard. At his top-ranked hospitals in California and Pennsylvania, serving the needs of patients is the focus-- even above profits. Patients who are unhappy with their care can request their money back in 3 to 5 days.

The best brands are on top for a reason, look into their customer service practices and merge them into healthcare strategy.

Creating Positive Culture
The best business brands take mission statements very seriously, so why shouldn't hospitals? A mission statement will help communicate your purpose to your staff, which then trickles down to your patients.

A hospital that puts "kindness" or "warmth" in their statement expects all staff to treat patients appropriately. Plugging the right people into leadership roles will help contribute and compliment your vision of heartfelt patient experiences. Patients need to be treated like humans to be satisfied with their healthcare. Hospitals that emphasize positive culture stand to drive an outstanding patient experience in return.

Always Engaging Patients
Engaging patients should be a concern from the top of a healthcare organization and all the way down. Executives and leaders at the highest performing hospitals commit to walking the hospital floor frequently. Some leaders have been known to spend 2 hours every single day discussing patient experiences, observing processes, and talking with employees.

It helps to be personal, and the best leaders leave notes and business cards to anyone who wants to discuss their care. Also, leaders will directly discover when practices are being ignored or need improvement by their staff.

Putting in place a system will foster success in patient engagement. Models like Listen, Learn, and Lead and CICARE train employees to meaningfully interact with patients. Cleveland Clinic trains everyone to communicate with patients and family during long wait times-- even maintenance staff. Put in place a model that lends to your goal of patient engagement.

Lastly, engaging with patients means sticking the landing. Leave patients with a discharge file that thoroughly addresses their next steps and expectations after leaving the hospital. Similarly, follow up with a call within 48 hours of patient departure. You want your patients to feel confident that they can take control of their treatment going forward, and the best way to do that is through providing them with all of the information they need.

Cutting Edge Technology
For being a primary business sector in our nation, hospitals are surprisingly behind on technology. The patient experience is mostly a data-driven component. The same methods that lead us to select which restaurants to have dinner at are being used to choose which facilities in our network we should seek out for healthcare. Bad reviews and weak data will lead to fewer patients and lower satisfaction.

Using AI and data software allows leadership to view what part of the patient experience is below expectations. That will enable you to decide what areas need the most attention. In the internet age, stories are circulated virally, and reviews reign supreme. Don't let this cost your hospital visits.

Improve Physician and Staff Well-Being and Experience
When focusing so strictly on patients, you might forget to meet the needs of your staff. Stressed, overworked staff cannot possibly carry out your mission or give your patients their best. While long and difficult schedules are the norm in healthcare, you still want to do what you can to assist your staff so that they're enabled to provide patients with outstanding care. Equip your team with the right training, benefits, work-life balance, and hospital resources to reach your goals. If staff cannot provide the basics, your culture and programs are all for nothing.

Healthcare includes a lot of different ingredients for success. But, at the end of the day, it is about people. To deliver excellent patient experiences, you need the right dynamic leaders at your organization. Struggling to find the perfect leader for your organization? Learn how QLK Executive Search can deliver you with the best candidates.


Scott Sammon is a Managing Partner with Quick Leonard Kieffer based in Chicago, IL. Scott can be reached at or at (312) 876-9800.