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Over the past few weeks we engaged in a series of conversations with leaders from various organizations across the healthcare space. We have been interested in getting their take on how the patient experience has been redefined by digital technologies and mediums, and new approaches that they are utilizing to deliver seamless experiences with the patient as the focal point. As a part of this effort, we spoke with Lisa Allen, Chief Patient Experience Officer at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System.  As Lisa indicates, the patient experience is not just about engagement, but helping patients become strong partners in managing their own health as well.

Q: In your role Lisa, as the Chief Patient Experience Officer, what does a seamless patient experience mean to you?

A: There are so many different aspects to the patient experience and touchpoints at which patients interact with us and our brand. This gives us the opportunity to fulfill our patients’ needs on various fronts – access, transparency, engagement, convenience – and provide a seamless experience in that sense.

Access is a key area of focus for us and we’ve been thinking about new ways for our patients to be able to schedule their visits with the right care provider. Our Find a Doctor application is the primary tool that we provide for this purpose. The emphasis is on enabling the patient to discover the right physician or specialist for their needs, and then, scheduling their visit.  This application includes the ability to coordinate with the doctor's office for bloodwork, test results, and so on.  We try to make this part of the experience as easy as possible for those who are online as well as those who call directly.  It is an area of significant investment for us.

In terms of transparency, we have several systems through which we collect input from patients, and their ratings of our offerings is one of them. This is a way for us to openly share patient sentiment around our out-patient and physician provider level services.  However, our current system only posts the patient experience scores online without any comments. We’ve been exploring posting these additional details as a means to be even more transparent with why people are rating our services the way they are. 

Q: What are you currently prioritizing with respect to the patient experience?

A: When patients interact with us, they are often in a vulnerable and anxious state, so first and foremost, we need to address that. Here at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, we do this by working to make healthcare more helpful, more friendly, and more empathetic and compassionate.

In line with this, we are always looking to get information to our patients in ways and on channels that are relevant, easy, and convenient to them. Another way that we try to build trust with our patients is by providing them with a sense of familiarity with our process, care providers, and facilities even before they choose to visit us. We try to give them a sense of who their doctors are through video clips, as well as help them get an understanding of what they can expect when they get to the hospital or during their post-treatment recovery.

Additionally, we also try to track and confirm that our patients have read the information or watched the videos that we deliver, and have understood them.  This moves beyond just engaging patients. They now feel like they are not only receiving care from us, but have a significant part to play in the process, and therefore, start to become strong partners in managing their own health. This partnership is a key aspect of patient success.

Q: Thanks Lisa. Your point regarding emphasizing the partnership aspect is a really interesting takeaway. So, what other steps are you and your team taking to help empower your patients?

A:  The cumulative patient experience is affected by people, process, and place. I’ve already touched on the people aspect, and the understanding and compassion that is needed to address this area. From a process perspective, we make sure patients are prepared for their treatments by coordinating related factors with them prior to their visits. We also notify patients if there will be a delay with their appointments. We do the same for their post-op recovery, and make sure patients know what to expect and can reach out to us easily if need be. We’ve also been looking at things like billing and making sure that we break down our bills in ways that make it easy for the patient to understand and follow up on.

In terms of place, we consider the environment that the patients are physically in at the hospital. We are developing apps that patients can access on their devices that show maps and layouts of the facility so they can navigate around the hospital campus more easily. This is especially useful for larger campuses. 

Our online digital properties can almost be considered as another location where our patients can interact with and hear from us. We’ve been using data and UX insights to ensure that these properties are oriented in ways that are easy to use and digest. Moving forward, we might look at ways to combine both the online and offline worlds. For example, supporting interactive digital experiences within our waiting rooms to collect patient data or provide them with information is an interesting way to make this happen.

"Telehealth is pretty big all across the industry right now, and is something we have been exploring as well in our efforts to continue to provide more value and convenience to our patients."

Lisa Allen, chief patient experience officer, johns hopkins hospital and health system    

Telehealth is still a relatively nascent field and I expect that we’ll see a lot of progress in this area over the next few years.

Q: Given all these different areas, how do you prioritize what digital initiatives you’re going to execute, and make decisions on what to invest in?

A: I’m sure this varies from organization to organization and is dependent on each one’s goals. At the John Hopkins Hospital and Health System, a primary goal at the moment is to spread awareness among and attract more out-of-state patients, and so our efforts are oriented around this. In term of priorities, we look to patient surveys, what providers are hearing on the floors, data and analytics from our websites, and trends across the industry to inform what initiatives get added to our pipeline. We also have a Patient and Family Advisory Council that weighs in on issues that are important to them, and our senior leadership gets involved with any final decisions and approvals on investments.

Thanks, Lisa! That covers a lot of territory.  We can see how solutions in the digital healthcare space are key to enhancing the patient experience. We appreciate you taking part in our ongoing discussion on how digital is disrupting the delivery of a more patient-centric healthcare experience.

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