What is Patient Experience and Why It Matters

The phrase Patient Experience is becoming more and more common in the vernacular of not only health care leaders who are paying attention to pay for performance measures, but also in the everyday language of the people who are directly touching patients: doctors, nurses, and those who support them.

So what is it, exactly? There’s many good definitions out there, but I would describe it as the overall feeling a person leaves with at the end of their healthcare encounter. It encompasses the quality of their care- are they better off physically than they were when they started? As well as the emotional component of their care- did they feel respected and genuinely cared for as an individual throughout the process?

Every touch point influences that final feeling, or perception, the patient has. The feeling or perception can change, throughout the visit:  it can go up with really positive interactions, and it  can go down with negative ones. It can go up and down and up again. But at the end of the encounter, the patient will leave with an overall feeling of some kind that will be forever tied to how that person perceives the hospital.

A good clinical outcome is not enough. It does not equal a good patient experience if the patient felt labeled, disrespected, or disregarded during their care. And this is why Patient Experience matters: it forces us to think of more than just clinical care outcomes in regards to the total service we provide our patients. It forces us to stay connected to the human aspect of our care. Are we truly doing “no harm” if we injure them emotionally while we heal them physically?

Patient experience matters because it’s the core of why health care professionals do what they do- to enrich and enable the well-being, physically and emotionally, of others. Our job is to create encounters where the patient leaves with a quality care outcome as well as feeling like the interpersonal interactions and processes they went through were the best they could have possibly been.

It doesn’t just happen. It takes an awareness of what it is the organization wants to accomplish,the behaviors and values that support and promote that mission, and the proper communication and education of those behaviors and values to the care givers who actually must do them in order to succeed.  You lose any of that–your vision, your tactics, and proper education and training to those who must carry them out–and you’ve lost.

Patient Experience matters because the way we make a person feel might actually be reflective of the total quality of care we  provide.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!





  1. Patient satisfaction is often more closely tied to the quality of the personal interactions than the clinical outcomes – an important issue for all healthcare professionals.


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