Focusing on ‘Little Things’ for Patient Experience


Doc outreach

In our last blog I wrote about moving the focus on patient satisfaction away from amenities. Hospitals and their patients may get a bigger return on their investment if they focus their efforts on improving the human communications and interactions that occur throughout the hospital stay. A couple of examples:

  • Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center’s "sacred moments" program was featured this month in Becker’s Hospital Review. Rather than starting with questions about allergies and insurance and taking vitals, the first moments interacting with the staff focus on the patients’ goals and fears.
  • The Houston Chronicle wrote about St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System focus on customer service. The system uses AIDET, an "acknowledge, introduce, duration, explanation and thank-you" checklist for employees that aims to enhance clear and concise communication. Additionally they use patient journals for noting questions between rounds, and follow up all visits with discharge calls.

Patients are routinely "fire hosed" with information during their visits and stays – making it hard for them to absorb what really matters. Communication strategies that package important guidelines and instructions with vivid illustrations or personal examples can improve clarity, understanding as well as confidence. In our observations of patient-provider interactions, creating context and connecting the dots — offering a big picture view — also has a remarkable effect on engagement.

Jason Wolf of The Beryl Institute writes in the Hospital Impact blog about how a single moment on a customer service call with his cell phone company defined his experience with a company. He noted: "With experience, what matters most may very well be the littlest things… and that may be the biggest thing of all."

What "little things" are you focusing on to make the big improvements in your patients’ experience? If you’re tackling experience challenges or want to take the next competitive step to develop your "e-patient" strategy, but aren’t sure where to start, contact us for a patient experience assessment.


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