A Win-Win: Driving Healthcare Improvement Through Patient Experience
“A positive patient experience is in the best interest of patients and providers. Doctors want their patients to have good experiences getting care. If patients are having a good experience, they’re more likely to be engaged in care and more likely to follow through with the care their doctor suggests.” Dr. Patricia Toro, Medical Director of the New England Quality Care Alliance (NEQCA), a physician network in Eastern Massachusetts, shared this sentiment about why she thinks it’s important to help providers continuously improve patient experience.
NEQCA knows that to improve patient experience there has to be a commitment to reflection, evaluation and sharing best practices. And to provide its nearly 1,800 members with the best and most up-to-date insights, NEQCA invests in MHQP’s Patient Experience Survey (PES) – the only statewide comparative survey on patient experience in Massachusetts, and the only survey of its kind in the nation that includes parents’ assessments of pediatric care.
NEQCA has been using PES data alongside state benchmarks and its own internal analyses to identify themes and patterns in care across its network. NEQCA shares these themes with its leadership and physicians to reflect on what’s working in practices, to encourage collaboration among its members and to provide tools and resources to help create actionable plans for improving patient experience.
Often there are some simple, straightforward changes that practices can make to improve care. “It doesn’t take completely changing how you practice medicine to create a better patient experience. There are small, incremental actions that can be taken that will make care better,” Dr. Toro stated.
NEQCA also uses PES data to inform the development of various components of its Patient Experience Toolkit and its Performance Improvement Grants program. In the fall of 2014, NEQCA leveraged the PES results to encourage performance improvement grant applicants to develop projects focused on patient experience aspects where their practice had room to improve. The majority of the network (11 of 15 applicant groups) incorporated patient experience into their Performance Improvement plan.
Improving patient experience and patient care does not happen in isolation, Dr. Toro concluded, “It’s a working relationship between the doctor and her patient – if one of those two people is unhappy, it’s not going to be optimal for either one. Good patient experience is a win-win all around; we can’t go wrong supporting measurement and transparency in patient care – we can only do better.”