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Enhancing the Patient Experience: How Hospitals Are Improving Care

April 21, 2023

As patients, we rely on hospitals to provide quality medical care for us when we need it the most. But beyond receiving medical treatment, patients also seek a positive and comforting experience during their hospital stay. The patient experience encompasses every patient interaction with a hospital, from the moment they walk through the door to their discharge. It includes not only the medical care they receive, but also the communication, empathy, and overall hospital environment.  

The HIMSS 2023 Patient Experience Forum offered a comprehensive roster of sessions that explored how hospitals are improving the patient experience and providing compassionate care to enhance patient satisfaction and outcomes. 

Here is a snapshot of one session that stood out for me. The panel How Global Health Systems Are Raising the Bar on Virtual Care touched on several areas such as wearables and patient advocates, access, and education. 

Wearables and Patient Advocates

Shannon Crotwell, Program Coordinator, Sanger Heart and Vascular Center, Atrium Health, discussed the need to manage technology downloads and usage without a real-time patient encounter. She said that when you put a wearable in a patient’s hands, they know someone is watching. For example, “Did you do your three 10-minute walks today?” While it didn’t happen overnight, Atrium experienced a 60% enrollment increase over their four-year journey to improve patient experience. To keep up with increased demand for patient access, Atrium shifted their care model by extending patient outreach to health coach advocates. This has allowed them to supplement and free up clinicians.  

Access to Data and Patient Education

The speakers also talked about the shift in patients’ comfort level with data access. Brad Reimer, Chief Information Officer, Sanford Health, said patient sentiment has shifted from “Are you going to give my data to payers?” to engagement and health improvements. He added that while there were initially lots of concerns, now patients are more open to the power of shared data to improve experience. For instance, in rural communities that are traditionally quite private, Sanford Health armed physicians with education on how data would be used and shared. So, patients are more trusting since they see their physicians as a source of truth. Crotwell concurred by saying it comes down to education, because giving patients too much data can be overwhelming. “It’s important for them to understand and engage in the right way,” said Reimer. 

Hospitals have the responsibility to provide medical care and also prioritize the overall patient experience. By focusing on patient advocates, access to data, and patient education, hospitals can create a positive and comforting experience for patients. These speakers certainly are making great strides. Ensuring patients feel heard, respected, and cared for can result in a more positive hospital experience and contribute to better overall patient well-being.