The Growth Channel

A proven patient experience tactic you might be missing

by Stephen Carrick

As more patients shop for care, your organization is increasingly on the hook for delivering on patient priorities—things like high-quality care, convenient access, and a top-notch patient experience. To attract these patients, hospitals often opt for costly strategies, such as concierge medicine service models or resource-intensive marketing campaigns. But we’ve got some good news: you don’t have to “break the bank” to appeal to these patients.

Many hospitals overlook using standardized clinical protocols as an effective, low-cost method for boosting patient experience. Here's the approach Palomar Health took when the organization revamped its clinical protocols to deliver an improved patient experience. Read on for more on Palomar’s strategy—and how you can do it at your organization, too.

Palomar Health: Improved care quality boosts patient satisfaction

A few years ago, Palomar identified low HCAHPS scores in the pain management domain as a key challenge to attracting patients and differentiating its orthopedics program in a crowded market.

Initially, Palomar focused on frontline staff interactions and service to improve its scores. But it wasn’t until the organization implemented standardized pain management protocols that it saw patient satisfaction take off. Palomar used evidence-based best practices developed by high-performing physicians within its program to create standardized protocols. The new protocols optimized patient comfort during the entire episode of care by managing patient pain levels effectively.

After making these pain management changes, patient satisfaction increased dramatically across the board, even with food service and other seemingly unrelated areas. Palomar leveraged its improved patient satisfaction scores to differentiate its orthopedics program from regional competitors. As a result, the number of self-referring patients grew and continues to do so, and quality continues to grow steadily.

Making Palomar’s strategy work at your organization

As Palomar’s experience shows, improving day-to-day clinical protocols is an effective method for delivering patients a first-rate experience. Here are two tips your organization can use to achieve similar results:

Get staff buy-in to ensure success: Palomar’s success was based in large part on clinical staff buy-in and alignment among different stakeholder groups within the organization. For instance, when developing these new protocols, Palomar used the orthopedic program’s steering committee to involve all key stakeholders in decisions. The committee also created a robust data-reporting process to share patient outcomes with physicians and clinical staff to demonstrate the impact of Palomar’s new protocols.

Takeaway: Integrating stakeholders in the decision-making process and sharing outcomes data to demonstrate the impact of changes ensures staff buy-in.

Evaluate entire patient experience for opportunities: Palomar’s success provides an outline for elevating the patient experience by improving patient pain management. But you don’t have to limit your organization to focusing on this specific protocol. Discharge protocols and patient transitions along the care continuum are just a few examples of the other protocols you could focus on to improve patient experience.

Takeaway: Most organizations have a number of opportunities to optimize the patient experience. Look across the entire care continuum to pinpoint areas for improvement.

Get free case studies on improving the patient experience

Creating a positive patient experience builds loyalty—and loyalty could mean nearly $3 million of revenue potential for a typical hospital. Check out a few case studies on how your peers are using iRound technology to improve the patient experience and how you can replicate these outcomes at your organization.