Strategic planning from the inside-out: How to use the voice of the patient as a differentiator

Susan (Sue) Owen, CHE – Impreza Consulting
Nicola (Nicki) Morris – The Neoteric Group

This concurrent session started with the idea of discussing how to integrate the patient’s voice into the strategic planning process for improved healthcare models via patient engagement and consultation.

Both presenters have extensive experience in the Canadian healthcare system. Ms. Owen’s experiences are in a hospital environment and Ms. Morris works in long-term care, home care and retirement facilities.

A positive patient experience can improve patient outcomes, overall satisfaction, elevate an organization’s reputation and save money. Measuring a patient’s experience is challenging because compassion, the family’s experience and the patient’s experience are subjective concepts. Design thinking is a tool to quantify “gut feel” and “fuzziness” to engage patients on an emotional level, and integrate these concepts into healthcare environments. 

The current state of healthcare is complicated and complex with a variety of drivers (i.e. economic realities, value for money, revenue creation, shifts in models of care, etc.). There is a nationwide shift to a value-based model of healthcare prioritizing economy, efficiency and effectiveness without additional government funding.

A design thinking application, co-creation, allows patients to become co-producers of their care experience. This is a transformation from a provider-centred model to a parent-centred model of healthcare. Smart care solutions and self-directed care are becoming more popular, and tools (e.g. patient care survey) currently in use will become obsolete. Technology and industry tools aggressively driving accessibility and the ability to customize interactions will grow in popularity in the healthcare system.

During patient summits, the most common feedback the facilitators of this session heard was, “I was afraid.” There is a need to address patients’/residents’/clients’ emotional reactions and experiences with Canadian healthcare. Leaders and staff are asked to respond to emotional needs along with quantitative aspects of patient care (e.g. length of stay, mortally rate, etc.). This shift creates new ecosystems of change, a notion of change from examples of mental health care, and the empathy that care promotes. The goals of the design process include:

·        Providing opportunities for patients to co-produce their own care and enable self-care (e.g. home dialysis)

·        Reliability of care organization, the ability to connect patients with the appropriate care/support (e.g. providing accessible options appropriate for each patient)

·        Removing “friction” by reducing accessibility challenges, stigmas associated with treatments, conditions and needs, ensuring patients feel supported and giving a sense of control in their care/experience

Many healthcare facilities focus on service (e.g. valet parking, self-scheduling patient systems, etc.). Patients may feel supported, but the fear and anxiety associated with the patient care experience is not being fully addressed. Three tools to leverage the voice of the patient in planning care delivery were discussed:  

1.      Patient Persona – this tool helps categorize types of patients for planning patient services, physical spaces, imagining connectivity and developing care ecosystems.

2.      Empathy Map – a tool that measures the emotional response related to the care provided. Staff are often surprised that they are not doing “enough” to support patients. This tool illustrates the gaps between the patient’s experience versus what is perceived by healthcare staff.

3.      Experience Mapthis tool generalizes the concept of customer-journey maps across user types and products. It focuses on measuring friction or pain points (e.g. the patient repeated a request several times before it was met), and encourages the patient to describe their experience for healthcare workers to understand their perspective.

These tools serve as vehicles to create forums for patients to express their experiences as a patient from their perspective, and assist staff in becoming more aware of friction or variations in patient care. Leaders and staff are now being encouraged, in many healthcare settings, to allocate time and resources to shift their current culture to a patient-first model, and for all staff to view themselves as ambassadors of patient-centred care.






Report written by: Julie Ferlisi, The Write Approach Professional Services

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