This week, April 25 - 29, is Patient Experience (PX) Week, an annual event to celebrate the many ways health care staff impact the patient experience.

Sponsored by The Beryl Institute, an organization dedicated to improving the patient experience, PX Week provides a focused time for hospitals and other health care facilities to celebrate accomplishments, reenergize efforts, and honor employees who actively contribute to their patients' welfare.

By supporting Patient Experience Week, facilities show their employees that they appreciate their hard work and encourage their continued efforts on behalf of patients.

"In recent years, the concept of patient experience moved from the fringes of the health care conversation to the heart of all health care encompasses," said Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D., president of The Beryl Institute.

"Challenged by some as a fad, even in the face of emerging policy and growing financial implications, a shifting consumer mindset and a growing global movement of professionals committed to experience excellence converged to set the foundation for the framing of patient experience as a true field of practice."

Patient Experience Defined

The Beryl Institute defines the patient experience as, "The sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization's culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care."

In a video explaining the rationale behind the definition, Wolf said that health care facilities should focus on four concepts:

  1. Interactions. "At our core, we are human beings caring for human beings," Wolf said;
  2. Culture. Your organizational culture shapes who you are and how you act. It reinforces expected behaviors, how you reward and recognize, and enables responsiveness and organizational agility;
  3. Continuum of Care. The experience never ends and starts well before people enter the four walls of your facility;
  4. Perceptions. It comes down to the perception of end-user — the consumer — the patient or family member you serve.

Wolf encouraged every organization to adopt this definition or create one that takes the four concepts into account.

Patient Experience Week Activities

Here are some ways in which health care organizations can participate in PX Week.

  • Kick-off Event. Hold a special kick-off event where you show The Beryl Institute's "I am the Patient Experience" video.
  • Open House. An open house is a good opportunity to introduce hospital employees and volunteers to the patient experience efforts taking place in your hospital.
  • Recognition Luncheon. A luncheon during Patient Experience Week is an excellent way to boost morale. Depending on your budget, you can have a potluck, a special luncheon prepared by your hospital’s dietary staff, or a catered meal in a conference room. This is also a good time for you or the hospital administrator to present recognition certificates to your staff.
  • Patients’ Day. Let the patients in your hospital know you care by dedicating a day in their honor.
  • Physician Recognition. Patient Experience Week is a perfect opportunity to recognize the physicians you work with year round. Delivering a recognition certificate, accompanied by a poster, pen, or a plant or flowers (budget permitting), is an excellent way to show your appreciation.

To learn more about Patient Experience Week, visit The Beryl Institute website.

Improving Patient Experience Year-round

Improving patient experience is not an activity relegated to a single week but should be a concentrated year-round effort, and not just for the purpose of improving HCHSPA survey scores but, to emphasize Wolf’s point, because we are human beings caring for other human beings.

(Even the word “hospital” comes from the Latin for “guest” and host,” according to the dictionary. As such, the spirit of hospitality should be at the core of the patient experience.)

The following four articles can help your organization find ways to intensify its patient experience focus:

  • 3 Steps to Improving Patient Satisfaction in the ED Given that hospitals and doctors are now publicly rated for patient satisfaction, patients are getting more selective than ever, comparing and contrasting hospitals and emergency departments based on their patient satisfaction scores before choosing where to go for care.
  • The Role of Customer Satisfaction in Patient Care An adage that holds true in health care as much as anywhere else says, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." It's a self-evident proposition that should serve as a mantra in modern health care practice, particularly in emergency medicine.
  • Reducing ED Wait Times in ACA Era A reduction in wait times increases patient satisfaction, which can also result in better payment thanks to certain value-based reimbursement systems. Increasingly, these systems emphasize quality of care and the patient’s experience of care, not just the quantity of services provided.
  • Top 6 Tips to Improve Your Hospital's HCAHPS Scores Since 2006, the federal government has recognized Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems as a standardized survey that can help hospitals improve quality of care. Here are six ways to help you strengthen your results.