In the last 20 years, patient experience has become an integral aspect in healthcare systems. Facilities have implemented services such as online billing platforms, patient portals and email services with physicians to increase ease of communication. However, other vital experiences are being overlooked. What about services that help calm and/or engage the patient during treatments and procedures? Who is looking out for patient comfort?
More recently, teams of hospital administrators are forming patient experience task forces in attempt to bring new, innovative and interactive services to their patients. Providing a calming distraction during an MRI or CT scan can alleviate anxiety and offer a more holistic experience. However, these task forces and their administrators constantly face budgetary obstacles when attempting to broaden the scope of patient experience. No matter how much a hospital administrator may want to include a themed environment or ambient lighting in their facility, they cannot get past the monetary brick wall.
What if it was a matter of public policy that healthcare systems were obligated to provide elevated patient experience? Requiring their facility to include more comforting pleasantries? That is what Planetree, a mission based non-profit organization, is attempting and their success is gaining momentum.
Founded in 1978 by Angelica Theriot, Planetree set out to ensure that patients were receiving a holistic and positive experience from their healthcare - “Every element of the organization’s culture was to be assessed, based on whether it enhanced or detracted from personalizing, demystifying, and humanizing the patient experience. A premium was placed on making information available to health care consumers, enabling them to be informed partners in their care.”
Nearly 40 years later, patient experience is now a large part of the integral structure of healthcare. Unfortunately, the monetary obstacles still exist. As well as some antiquated views on why patient experience may not be important. But that is all about to change. With organizations like Planetree and The Beryl Institute, who defines patient experience as "the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care,” more awareness has been given to how the patient actually feels during their time at a healthcare facility.
So what next? We cannot leave it to hospital administrators, lobbyists and politicians to make this a reality. A patient’s voice has an incredible impact with a healthcare facility, but it must be heard. Elevated patient experience should be an absolute within a healthcare system, but we must be vocal about it on a patient to physician level and keep the conversation going. For us here at DTI, patient experience is a global language we call “caring.”