As a writer and an editor, I always choose my words carefully. Some days it seems as if I spend hours selecting the appropriate headlines and perfecting the phrasing of sentences. Therefore it was no surprise to me that, as I planned this month’s cover focus, I found myself wondering: Are the phrases patient experience and patient satisfaction synonomyous?
To a wordsmith looking for multiple alternatives to describe something, the answer might be yes. But to a health care practitioner, the answer is most likely no, and the reason is simple: Patient experience involves far more than making patients happy. Rather, patient experience entails delivering safe and high-quality care, providing optimal experience and satisfaction, and driving value and efficiency.1 The key is prioritizing the elements in this order, so that safe and quality care are never abandoned for optimal experiences and value and efficiency.
Even with this in mind, finding ways to create a lasting patient experience can be a daunting task, one that takes not only time but also a considerable amount of energy and insight. In this issue, we have enlisted several surgeons and ophthalmic practitioners to help you draft a blueprint for the patient experience that promotes repeat customers and word-of-mouth referrals and also keeps you and your staff members happy in the process.
I recently spoke with our chief medical editors, Sheraz M. Daya, MD, FACP, FACS, FRCS(Ed), FRCOphth, and Erik L. Mertens, MD, FEBOphth, about the notion of the patient experience and the provisions they have made for it in their practices. In our conversations, both surgeons shared their charisma and enthusiasm for taking care of their patients, first by offering safe and effective care and second by providing a high-quality experience in a high-quality setting. Their articles provide several unique points to consider when designing your strategy to optimize the patient experience.
Incorporating cutting-edge diagnostics preoperatively and providing excellent follow-up care and gauging patient satisfaction postoperatively are also ways to promote a stellar patient experience, and these areas are explored in this issue by Jodi I. Luchs, MD, and by Andreas Frings, MD, and Toam Katz, MD, respectively. Their initiatives can help set your practice apart from competitors and build patients’ confidence in your care.
A happy staff also influences the patient experience, and Bernard Chan Kwok Loong, a marketing manager for Vista Eye Specialists, offers six components of a holistic employee package that address finances and your staff members’ needs for growth, adventure, and empowerment. He also proposes several areas that can help leave patients with a good impression of your practice, including daily staff preparation, technology, and a welcoming facility.
Another component to making a good impression on patients is enhancing their education. In her article, ophthalmic administrator Céline H.L. Reibel stresses the importance of focusing patient education on eliminating the fear of the unknown and making patients feel comfortable enough to ask questions.
Taken collectively, we hope that the topics we explore in this cover focus will inspire you to continue providing patients with optimal care and to stimulate some new ideas for enhancing the experiences you offer them. Although caring for patients can be challenging, it helps to remember that the passion you have for helping them is portrayed in every aspect of the services you provide.
- Hirsch L. At Cleveland Clinic, Patient Experience is Not Just About Patient Satisfaction. Healthcare Success website. Accessed September 29, 2014. http://tinyurl.com/qytnxxb.