“The question is not what you look at, but what you see” – Henry David Thoreau
We sometimes lose sight of patient perception in health care and the quote above from Thoreau helps drive home the point that processes and systems in health care need to focus on the patient and not the caregiver.
Historically health care has created systems that benefit the efficiency and workflow of the health care provider but we need to change our thought process and focus more efforts on creating systems that improve the patient’s perception of care.
A patients perception of care goes beyond the care provided. Patients come to us with the level of trust that we have the basic competence and ability to provide the health care service they are after. The perception of the care goes far beyond the actual service provided. The patient’s perception is formed by the accessibility of parking, the interaction with admitting, the friendliness of staff they meet in the hallway and the professional demeanor of staff they encounter.
A patients perception is based on what the patient understands. A patient probably does not understand how an MRI works or what a specific lab test does but they do understand how they, and their family, are treated and how easy or difficult it is to find where they’re going or how long they have to wait.
At times health care encounters are stressful and stressful situations tend to raise our level of awareness. If you’ve ever visited an Emergency Room with a loved one in distress you know that your stress level is increased and in turn your level of awareness is increased. When your level of awareness is increased, a specific action or encounter becomes engrained in your memory.
In health care we have historically focused on the patient experience from the caregiver point of view but if we want to thrive in the future we must focus on patient experience from the patient’s point of view. GVMH is in the process of developing a Patient and Family Advisory Council to help us better understand patient needs and desires. The feedback from this council will help us improve the patient experience.
Improving the patient experience goes beyond just asking the Patient and Family Advisory Council for feedback. Once we get the feedback we must take action and that can be difficult. It’s easy for us to say we want to accommodate patients but truly doing so requires that we be vulnerable and willing to change even if it makes life more difficult for us.
Creating a great patient experience requires a culture that is willing to put the patient in the driver’s seat and create an individual experience in an environment that is striving for consistency and protocol. It’s a difficult balance.
Does GVMH have a culture that is ready to accommodate the patient and not the caregiver? Only you can answer this question…