Patient Satisfaction News

Hospital Execs Keep Focus on Patient Engagement, Experience

Most hospital executives are increasing their patient engagement investments this year, and more than half are improving their telehealth offerings.


Source: Thinkstock

By Sara Heath

- Better patient engagement and consumer satisfaction remain among the top priorities for C-suite hospital executives, according to the 2017 C-suite survey from Premier, Inc.

The survey of 63 healthcare executives revealed that healthcare organizations are responding to the increasingly consumer-centric healthcare industry. As patients assume more financial responsibility for their healthcare, organizations are focusing on creating a positive patient experience.

Patients have more buying power in the age of health savings accounts and high-deductible health plans. Because patients use their own money to purchase much of their healthcare, they are selecting the healthcare providers that offer the best services for their dollar.

C-suite executives are recognizing that fact, with 45 percent reporting that they will increase their investments in patient engagement initiatives, the survey found. No respondents stated that they will reduce their patient engagement investments.

Health system executives are also anticipating patients who want access to treatment in convenient and cost-effective settings, the survey revealed.

“With high-deductible health plans and health savings accounts, consumers will increasingly choose economical, accessible healthcare options,” the report explained. “As such, providers are focusing on increasing use of health system-affiliated ambulatory clinics and stand-alone primary care providers, engagement strategies like online apps and telemedicine and care management teams.”

Fifty-six percent of C-suite leaders reported that they will increase their investments in cost-cutting care avenues such as telehealth, the survey said. Fifteen percent of respondents said they would increase telehealth offerings “substantially,” and no respondents said they would decrease their telehealth investments.

The focus on patient-centered care comes as the result of an increasing emphasis on managing healthcare costs, the report showed. Other C-suite priorities included managing costs and spending, moving from meaningful use to meaningful insight, leveraging population health strategies, and differentiating between clinical quality and costs.

Premier Chief Operating Officer Mike Alkire explained that hospital executives are working from all angles to ensure they can survive in a shifting healthcare industry.

 “In this period of great uncertainty and concern, healthcare leaders are understandably focused on managing costs,” Alkire said in a statement. “They are also clearly working hard to make sense of all the data they have, most of which remains in silos. Making sense of that data has clearly become a priority for leaders as has the movement toward a more consumer-centric and accountable care delivery system.”

Hospital executive emphasis on patient experience and cost-effective care access are consistent with last year’s findings. In Premier’s 2016 C-suite survey, Alkire stated leaders were looking to create convenient care options to support their population health and patient engagement initiatives.

“A key aspect of population health is meeting the patient where they are and providing affordable care options at each level of need,” Alkire said. “Increasingly, we’re seeing providers looking to build their own capabilities to reduce variability and create the standard for how care is provided across the entire episode.”

A 2016 Vocera survey also showed an executive emphasis on patient engagement. Sixty-four percent of hospital executives reported that they value their chief experience officers just as much as they do their patient safety and clinical workflow leaders. Hospital executives also reported they were integrating clinical workflow and patient safety as a part of patient experience.

Sixty-three percent of respondents reported a heavy emphasis on improving HCAHPS and other patient engagement measure scores.

However, by embedding patient experience officers deep within healthcare organization leadership, the report authors stated that organizations are working to improve experience beyond simple checkboxes. Patient engagement is becoming about a humanized experience, the Vocera report said.

“Today’s HCAHPS and employee engagement surveys don’t capture key elements of the human experience, including wellbeing and joy,” the Vocera authors wrote. “Experience leaders, academics, and entrepreneurs will join forces to define new measures for experience that will help guide improvement to accelerate innovation.”

Healthcare organizations are facing a dual imperative with regard to patient engagement and experience. As hospitals recognize that patients are consumers looking for a positive experience, they are working to create an experience patients will return to. Additionally, they are working to meet financial incentives that are tied to patient experience.


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