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Recognizing Workforce Experiences to Operationalize Patient Experience

Implementing End-to-End Patient Experience and Workforce Management Solutions Will Help Achieve Improved Patient Experiences

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A key determinant of patient experience (PX) outcomes in healthcare lies with the organizational capacity to implement PX solutions and integrate them effectively within the workflow across the patient journey. Achieving this goal is challenged by the already difficult business conditions that healthcare providers operate under to improve care, including growing provider shortages and, most recently, the heavy burden that COVID-19 has had on frontline workers in terms of burnout and low morale. A 2021 study with more than 20,000 US healthcare staff at 124 institutions found that one-fifth of physicians plan on leaving their practice within two years, and one-third of healthcare professionals intend to reduce their work hours within the next 12 months. The study recommended that making employees feel valued and creating mechanisms to reduce stress were needed to prevent these departures.

Workforce management solutions that incorporate mental health support for frontline health workers can contribute to PX improvement. BetterUp, which delivers virtual individual and group coaching, counseling, and mentorship for professionals, is an example of solutions that organizations are starting to deploy, both to provide real-time mental health support for employees and to optimize their on-the-job performance. Central to BetterUp’s Whole Person platform capabilities is the integration of coaching, artificial intelligence (AI), and behavioral science to create hyper-personalized experiences, that together with interactive content, analytics, and real-time data to track progress, are helping improve the well-being, adaptability, and effectiveness of the workforce. John Muir Health’s deployment with employees reported that 98% of sessions participated in were rated by employees as good or better, with an overall 9.7 out of 10 satisfaction rating for content, messaging, and platform.

Healthcare is essentially a people business. The notions of bedside manner and the placebo effect highlight the significance of that, and the empathy of staff is key to better PXs by making patients feel listened to, understood, and cared for. The fact that health outcomes also rely heavily on the quality of patient-provider relationships across the patient journey highlights the importance—for solutions that seek to realize positive PXs—to pay attention to balancing the potential efficiency and productivity contributions they can realize in improving service and care quality with potential adverse impacts on an already burdened workforce. Achieving what both healthcare providers and patients want can be mutually exclusive. They may not always be perfectly aligned, given the business imperatives, clinical contexts, and interpersonal behavioral dynamics, with each operating according to different theoretical frameworks and targeting very different goals.

A survey of 80 acute care hospital chief executive officers found that perceptions of collective organizational engagement can explain a significant amount of variability in the PX, and that initiatives that focus on all employees and not just clinical staff may enhance organizational performance positively to influence the PX. From an implementation perspective, support from senior leaders is crucial in driving efforts to improve safety, quality, and experience across the organization. The US-based healthcare system Baylor Scott & White Health found through its efforts to operationalize the Beryl Institute’s Experience Framework that its leaders’ recognition of the connectedness of all data has helped reinforce the notion that the PX is the sum of all interactions. The process traverses departments, as everyone owns the experience, and success depends on effective multidisciplinary teams that collectively own this work. As a result, it has prioritized three elements for cultivating organizational improvement within its efforts to create an exceptional PX: team development, motivation, and focus.

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