The Patient Experience: Safety, Quality, and Service that Builds Trust

Our Service Excellence team has been teaching a ton lately on the specific behaviors and traits of caregivers that contribute to a positive and memorable healthcare experience versus a negative one.  I don’t do this for scores- the scores are a natural outcome of the state of the culture. I do this for culture. For transformation. For my community and for myself, because at some point we are all patients. And a negative healthcare experience-big or small- is not something anyone wants to go through.

The more I teach, the more I find it absolutely necessary to address the connection between safety, quality, and service as it relates to the patient experience. Historically, these “departments” have been separate and siloed in regards to the organization’s business structure. But these “departments” have never been separated in the mind of a patient.

In a patient’s eyes, safety, quality, and service have always been one. One way to visualize it is to picture three overlapping circles:

  • Safety. In this realm, the patient is saying, Don’t harm me.
  • Quality. In this realm, the patient is saying, Heal me. Make me better off than when I first came to you. 
  • Service.  In this realm, the patient is saying, Ease my way. Educate me. Treat me kindly, with respect, as person, not a number. Empathize with my suffering. Treat me like a human.

Where these circles overlap is the totality of their experience. And ultimately what they are saying is, Do I trust you?

The Beryl Institute defines the patient experience as “The sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care”.

It’s an organization’s culture-what the front-line workers believe about quality, safety, and service as it relates to to their work-that manifests itself in every patient they interact with.

For example, do the majority believe that standardization and reliable processes contribute to eliminating medical error–harm, and in hundreds of thousands of cases a year death–OR do they believe standardization is taking away their autonomy to practice medicine in their own unique and individual way, and thus fight any sort of effort to standardize processes?

Our behaviors manifest themselves from what we believe. And it’s part of an organization’s responsibility to its patients to put the time and resources it takes to educate their caregivers on how to reduce medical error and the subsequent, additional suffering it causes. Making the connection between safety, quality, and service is foundational to understanding the intricacies that contribute to the overall patient experience–for good, or for bad.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Leave me a comment below!




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