New Meaning of Patient Experience for the COVID-19 World

Two very different hospital patient scenarios: a 32-year woman named Alejandra Lopez arrives at the hospital, dilated and ready to give birth to her second child, the same hospital where she delivered her first baby. She suffers from Gestational diabetes as well as high blood pressure. She received coaching and guidance from her healthcare team before her hospital experience and will need close observation and coaching during her delivery to avoid possible complications. An 85-year old man named George Trellis arrives at the same hospital, suffering from late-stage prostate cancer. His wife died the year before and now he lives alone. He has no close relatives or friends nearby. He’s lonely and just wants someone, his nurse or perhaps a social worker, to sit with him and talk for a while. Medical professionals agree, the needs, expectations, and ways to best engage these two patients to achieve the best outcomes in their treatment and care and ensure patient satisfaction are dramatically different.

Currently, in the US, notions of “patient experience” and “patient satisfaction” are routinely assessed by hospitals via a standardized survey mandated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) known as Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS).

HCAHPS has been considered to be the industry gold standard for collecting and public reporting of information which allows consumers to compare hospitals. But are these surveys really assessing and addressing the needs of patients as diverse as Alejandra and George? Is HCAHPS really a true measure of “patient centricity”? No. This overly general one-size-fits all process and measurement does not even come close to helping us understand the individual needs of patients like these two vastly different people who have vastly different needs and expectations.

Consisting of 27 items that consider aspects of the hospital experience (communication, responsiveness, cleanliness, pain management and so on), these standardized HCAHPS surveys, which are supposed to capture the patients perspective about their hospital stay, only have five items that directly ask about the patient:

• In general, how would you rate your overall health?
• What is the highest grade or level of school that you have completed?
• Are you of Spanish, Hispanic or Latino origin or descent?
• What is your race? Please choose one or more.
• What language do you mainly speak at home?

Nowhere does the survey ask the patient questions that could determine “What Matters” to them.

To truly understand patient centricity in this new world, we must understand what really matters to patients.

This requires an individualized approach, something that is better attained by companies like OSG Analytics who work in the field of and deploy Artificial Intelligence to obtain information on the individual level about what are the deeper drivers and motivations of patients. Behavioral analytics examines the “what” and “how” of patient behavior data to inform the “why” of customer behavior and motivations.

Improving care requires understanding What Matters to Patients.  Patient experience starts with understanding patient expectations. The COVID-19 crisis has brought a greater sense of urgency for hospitals to leverage data analytics and behavioral sciences to personalize patient care and deliver true patient centricity by addressing patient needs.