It’s All about the Data: More Misunderstandings in Patient Experience

I was recently asked: “What is the most frequently overlooked or misunderstood component of Patient Experience?” It didn’t take me long to come up with an answer.

My answer was that Patient Experience is about so much more than just the scores! This fact is why I titled my book “Beyond CAHPS – A Guide for Achieving Patient & Family Centered Care”. The initial request was for me to write an “HCAHPS Handbook”, but I insisted that, while the scores are important, we needed to encourage people to push past solely focusing on a response on a survey or the numbers on a scorecard.

There are not many areas across the healthcare continuum without requirements for patient experience surveys: we have HCAHPS, CG CAHPS, HH CAHPS, OAS CAHPS and other varietals from the CAHPS vineyard. Thanks to CAHPS, and increasingly thanks to things like value-based purchasing as well, there is no shortage of compulsories in this space. To succeed in this area, you need to be well-versed in those compulsories, keep up with them as they change, know how to navigate them, and educate others in your organization about them.

However the compulsories alone are not enough to drive significant improvement. There are few staff, leaders, or physicians out there who are motivated to improve based on CAHPS requirements alone. These compulsories are necessary and have helped to elevate the focus on patient experience, but they are only part of the story. In addition to mastering the compulsories, you also need to move beyond them and master the art of connecting with your care team and leaders through things like projecting patient voices through stories. Talking about doing the right thing in caring for our patients, just as we’d want the special people in our lives to be cared for, these are the things that motivate people who have dedicated their careers and lives to healthcare.

I think I’ve made it sufficiently clear that it’s not all about the numbers. And yet, it’s also about the numbers. The numbers are important. And the data behind those numbers is important. And sometimes that data isn’t so easy to get useful information out of. Especially as you begin to look beyond survey data to other data sources, such as patient comments, rounding data, coaching data, and even throughput and quality data.

At DTA Healthcare Solutions, we focus on more than just patient experience strategy and planning, service culture training, and coaching. In fact, a significant aspect of our company addresses the acquisition, management, and use of data in healthcare to improve patient experience, clinical outcomes, and operational efficiency.

We’ve heard from a lot of you that you struggle to get meaningful data to help you manage the beast that can be your patient experience data. There are many reasons for this difficulty, from a lack of resources (people) available to help organize and analyze your data, to a lack of helpful and engaging tools to slice and dice your data. So we’ve decided to offer a free webinar devoted entirely to this subject! Please plan to join us on Thursday March 8th at noon Central Time when we discuss how to make the most of the data you have from your patient survey data, rounding data, complaints, comments, coaching, etc. We’ll provide options that fit a small, medium, and large budget (do those even exist?!). If you’d like to sign up for this webinar, please click here to go to our sign up page!

Thanks and we hope to see you on March 8th!

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Janiece Gray

I began my career as a social worker and later, with my Master of Health Administration (MHA), directed operations at Allina Health in Minnesota. I later directed patient experience at Allina. My background and experience give me strengths in approaching healthcare opportunities and challenges through a systems lens – with unique strengths, challenges and activation points. My experience is also informed by leadership roles leading performance improvement in patient-centered care and patient experience departments. Working in the client role with healthcare consulting firms inspired me to address some unmet needs in the industry, and to co-found DTA Healthcare Solutions. I have a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, and find that the discipline of practice translates to healthcare work very well.

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