Getting Patient Experience Right.

Ever left your doctor’s office and felt frustrated, irritated and generally annoyed?  I think we all have. Today I’d like to talk a bit about patient experience, and tell a story that highlights a practice that I think is getting it right.

Patient experience is not just your interaction with your healthcare provider.  To me, patient experience encompasses a patient experience pugtatomore holistic idea of the entire spectrum of patient care.  It means feeling like a partner in your care. It includes every touch point in a practice- from the phone menu, to the  front desk, to the MA, to the physician, to check out.  It includes your interaction with your physician- did you feel listened to, were things well explained, did you feel rushed?  It means the culture of the practice- did you perceive that you were cared about as an individual, did you get a good feel of the culture of the practice?  All these pieces are an important part of delivering a positive patient experience.

Delivering positive patient experiences has become an important part of providing patient care, whether in a community or hospital setting. Patients are asking for better experiences and want to be active participants in their care. Many top hospitals such as the Cleveland Clinic have hired “Patient Experience Officers” or have created entire departments dedicated to creating positive patient experiences.  Once a year a truly innovative medical conference, Stanford’s MedX is held.  If you want to read more about MedX check out my Medicine X blog post, or visit the MedicineX website.

So now let’s take a look at a practice that I think is getting it right, OBGYN Associates in Silver Spring, MD.  Not co-incidentally, this is the practice that I go to and who delivered our beautiful daughter less than two months ago.  (And no, this is not a paid endorsement!  I truly feel this practice is a great example of getting it right.)

Here’s what I think they are doing right to deliver positive patient experiences:

1. You have the option to only see your doctor.  This is not the case with all OBGYN practices when you are an OB patient.  I knew most of the practitioners well thanks to my previous work with Eli Lilly so I did not feel the need to hop around and see everyone during my pregnancy.  Additionally, I felt that seeing one provider allowed for consistent care.

2. My doctor calls you back personally, the same day when you have questions.  OK OK, pick up your jaw from the floor.  This type of care does still exist!  I always felt like a priority to my physician and never felt dumb or silly for asking (what may have been) silly questions.  This was hugely important for me.

3. The staff is compassionate, kind and professional.  I believe the employees of a practice say a lot about its culture. Miserable front desk personnel or nurses who can’t smile are a huge turn off for me.  This practice is the opposite.  Every visit you are greeted by warm smiles and questions about how you are doing.  I had not been to this office in 3 years and when I walked in was still greeted by name by multiple staff members and physicians.  This extended to all levels of the care provided in this practice, which by the way provides physician, lab, sono, and education all in office.  If that doesn’t capture the warm culture of this practice, I’m not sure what does.

4.  Ease of use.  OBGYN Associates provides everything a patient needs, in office, so that (if your insurance allows) you can do it all in one place, with familiar staff, with one visit.  HUGE!  Acting as a one stop shop can ease a lot of anxiety for patients and stress of having to book multiple appointments at different locations.

5. Educational resources.  Being a first time parent is nerve wracking.  Having your baby decide she is really comfortable and thus has no interest in exiting and you need a c-section is nerve wracking.  I was able to have one on one educational sessions with the practice educator and my husband.  Here we were able to go as in depth as we wanted to about our up-coming delivery and postpartum life.

6. Practice run.  With the practice educator, my husband and I were able to take a tour of the maternity ward and see the rooms that were specific to planned c-section deliveries.  This was such an anxiety reliever the day of, when we walked in and had already been in the rooms for The Big Day.

7. Bed Side Manner. I already mentioned the positive experience I had in office with my physician and the staff.  This extended to the hospital and the operating room.  I had an amazing team in the OR.  The anesthesiologist was my pilot through the entire procedure and kept me informed of what was going on, calmed me when I got nervous and was so kind to me and my husband- walking us through everything from our side of the curtain.  Let me tell you- I was nervous about that spinal block and my anesthesiologist made it the least scary part of the whole day! My physician and the team delivering kept everything up beat and I could not have had a more positive experience in the OR.

The positive experiences at Holy Cross Hospital continued after the operating room- our 5 day stay was pleasantly orchestrated by an extremely kind nursing staff on the maternity floor.  I was truly impressed at the level of care we received and always felt like the nurses cared about us and our baby as if they were their own.

Not all patient experiences will be this positive and as patients, we need to be able to know when it is time to walk away from one practice and head on to another practice or provider.  I didn’t end up with this practice by accident. If you are not receiving the kind of care you want- speak up!  Ask around!  There are practices like the one I described today that can provide the level of care you want and deserve.  I am thankful to our physician and the team that delivered our baby. I am thankful that our total experience was so positive.  Remember, you have to be your own advocate.  What’s right for one patient might not be right for you.  Finding the right practice and provider can make all the difference in the healthcare experience you have!

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