At Cemplicity, our vision is not just about building great technology, it’s about enabling genuine improvement in patient experiences of care. As such, we are constantly learning from how our client’s implement programmes. We look at what mistakes they made in the past and how they can get better. Over the years, this has lead us to develop “4 Best Practice Pillars” that all organisations should consider when implementing a new patient experience programme. Specifically, those pillars are:
1. Asking the Right Questions
Enable your patients to talk about what matters most to them and allow them to use their own words as well as give ratings. Your patient survey questions must reflect the objectives of the programme and can often be driven by the answers the patient’s give themselves. For instance, you can ask patients to identify which aspects of their care were most important to them, and then drill down further into those specific areas within the survey. There are many standard sets of questions available from experts in this field including our partners Picker, and in Australia the government has designed a question set specifically to suit the needs of their country (AHPEQS). Utilising standard question sets also enables benchmarking against similar health settings and providers. However, always ensure the objectives of the standard questions are aligned to your own when choosing the best tools for your programme.
The starting point for any patient experience programme must surely be to give every single patient the chance to give feedback as part of their clinical journey in your organisation. This not only creates a patient-centric culture, it means that the volume of data collected is large enough such that it can be dis-aggregated to granular levels to engage front line teams. This immediately implies you need a scalable solution which is one of the biggest challenges many champions of patient reported measures face today. At Cemplicity, we always balance our capability with the question “but does it scale?”. We understand that there are many fantastic, but siloed, processes orphaned within the health system because they were never able to scale. For instance, we typically lead with digital-first solutions for capturing feedback yet also support paper and phone processes. On the flip side, a process that cannot automatically analyse qualitative feedback or score quantitative questions in real-time will never be scalable.
Getting feedback to staff in real-time is crucial to the success of a programme engaging with patients. As soon as a patient submits a response, alert thresholds should be assessed and triggered, responses scored and reported in real-time. If there is something the patient was unhappy with regarding their care, you need to automate alerts to the right staff who can take action. Research shows that front line teams engage with feedback if they feel it is relevant and recent – the old style of distributing large reports reflecting feedback collected 9 months earlier will not be enrolling, nor drive improvement for clinicians and nurse unit managers.
4. Keeping it Simple
A patient engagement programme must be automated as much as possible in the processes of capturing feedback, reporting and triggering alerts so that staff can focus on improvement. Front line teams in particular are time poor, such that the reporting and action items must be easy to access and simple to understand and action. It sounds obvious, but once you begin capturing a rich data set from patients, the temptation is to offer all of this information with significant flexibility to teams to analyse the results. Unfortunately, this often brings complexity that is a turn off to clinical teams who simply want the ‘insight’. This is the secret sauce in such reporting – bringing enough detail to make the information useful, without over-complicating it.
These four pillars create a strong foundation for a successful patient experience programme and as you can see, can often run in conflict with each other. Getting the right balance here is part of the challenge – but even if you are thinking about these four elements, that’s a fantastic start.