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Enhance the patient journey by understanding preferences in advance

Posted at beckershospitalreview.com.

The evolution of Human Understanding started with compliance measures to gather information on healthcare settings and programs for populations. Then a wave of consumerism formed to gather insights about health services and user segments, tracking transactions for patients as consumers. Today, we know that the evolution of the patient journey is about making a human connection to gain a deep personal understanding of patients to serve them better.

For more than 40 years, NRC Health has been committed to achieving Human Understanding and bringing healthcare organizations closer to their customers than ever before by illuminating the story behind each person and improving the key moments that define an experience and build trust.

“Our approach to understanding starts with what matters most to each person we serve—it is not just a product strategy,” says NRC Health Chief Growth Officer Helen Hrdy. “Our vision is to capture every person’s expectations and seamlessly fulfill a bold new promise that each person will be treated by all as unique.”

Let “person-centered, equity-focused” be our standard measure across care settings.

Hrdy says the industry has learned traditional methods of measuring and improving the patient experience, but these are not enough on their own to drive change. During the past 15 years covering the existence of the CAHPS program, Hrdy says the overall percentage of patients recommending the organization from which they had received care has barely increased—yet the industry is spending billions of dollars a year to drive improvement against such measures.

So, what needs to be done? First, we must understand that 99% of life happens beyond the hospital care setting.

“We have witnessed today’s improvement efforts directed towards the ‘next’ patient, missing the opportunity to make an immediate change,” Hrdy says. “By understanding each person’s expectations in advance of their interaction or episode of care, we can personalize our interactions at the moment and exceed those expectations.”

Personalization can happen quickly. Hrdy says if a communication assessment tool is used to ask patients to add a narrative before a visit, they can share their perspective about what matters to them most outside of clinical doors. Clinicians who can take 15 seconds to review the patient’s summary can do a better job serving them. Reports can allow administrators to see population-level details at a glance, curated to drive learning and improvement. Outcomes improved when patients were surveyed about their satisfaction with using a communication assessment tool. In a survey of 301 patients, patients reported that their team had shown care and concern (+16%), showed interest in their ideas (+14%), was treated with respect (+13%), and spent the right amount of time with them (+11%).

How do you do it? Discover NRC Health’s six Human Understanding imperatives:

  1. Drive growth by using patient ratings to amplify why you are the best choice for care
  2. Personalize care by understanding what matters most to each patient
  3. Build trust by checking in to identify and address questions, readiness, and safety risk
  4. Exceed expectations by collecting and reporting feedback to spark action
  5. Drive loyalty and equity by treating every patient as a unique person
  6. Transform services by surfacing needs voiced by the communities you serve

One example of seamless connectivity is when service recovery is automatically triggered in response to missed patient expectations. This provides an occasion for the healthcare organization to exceed expectations, which drives caregiver recognition and positive comments on social media, enhancing reputation.

Treat each patient as a unique person, and personalize their experience.

Hrdy says engaging patients within communities to co-design the processes that change healthcare needs to be the rule, not the exception.

“Imagine, for a moment, the power of a longitudinal lifetime profile of every customer,” she says. “This profile is used at each touchpoint and across all care settings along the customer journey, enabling the right personalized information to be accessible via the right workflow, by the right colleague, at the right time, with integrated coaching content to optimize effectiveness.”

She adds that Human Understanding needs to become everyone’s higher calling. “To change healthcare, we must also be bold and hold ourselves, our partners, and the healthcare industry accountable to this measure for each patient: ‘Did everyone treat you as a unique person?’”

Hrdy says changing healthcare is in NRC Health’s DNA. “We remained confident in our quest to change the industry from a dialogue around satisfaction to establishing expectations as a fundamental aspect of care delivery,” she explains. While the vision of Human Understanding is ahead of the curve, Hrdy asks that everyone join her to challenge the industry to do better.