A vast majority of healthcare organizations that implement process improvements have seen patient satisfaction improve, a new study has found.
Of the organizations surveyed, 87% said they saw improvement in their scores after putting process improvements into place. The scores come from surveys of patients after treatment is completed.
The recently released 2017 HealthLeaders Media Patient Experience Survey found that 13% of the healthcare organizations surveyed said they saw major improvements in patient scores. Another 44% saw moderate improvement, while 30% saw minor improvement.
The study is another example of how process improvement is making important changes in healthcare. Methodologies such as those found in Lean Six Sigma can help make the process go smoother.
While the numbers from the survey are promising, the same survey also identified the main stumbling block to process improvement in healthcare: changing the culture.
Of those surveyed, 31% said that changing culture at a healthcare operation is the main issue that keeps from successfully implementing process improvement. And that’s even when it’s been made clear that improving patient experiences and outcomes is the No. 1 priority for the organization.
The survey found a few key areas of difficulty:
- The sheer size of the operation, such as a large hospital
- Entrenched “ways of doing things” in healthcare, which is a very mature industry
- The complexity of healthcare, in which one patient might visit many different healthcare providers to treat one issue
To combat these issues, some healthcare operations have turned to hiring a chief experience officer to focus specifically on improving patient experiences while receiving medical treatment. However, while 45% of those surveyed have such an officer, they also report that issues remain in implementing process improvement.
That’s where Lean Six Sigma can provide help.
Lean Six Sigma
In the survey, more organizations said they use Lean Six Sigma methodology that have hired chief experience officers, a sign that the process has buy-in from leadership. This seems especially true with larger organizations such as a hospitals, physician groups and large health systems.
Lean Six Sigma provides proven tools to assess a process, find areas that need improvement, implement changes and monitor the effectiveness of those changes. It also allows for making further changes if necessary, as well as making moves quickly.
All this is done within a time-tested framework.
Healthcare organizations are increasingly putting the methodology to use. Area of focus, according to the survey, are:
Discharge and follow up – Done properly, including follow up with patients, improvements in this area can reduce the number of patients who require readmission to the hospital.
Emergency department – A positive experience getting help during what is likely one of the worst times of their life can build trust and lead to patients being more likely to make use of other medical services in the future.
Outpatient services – In the same vein, patients who have a positive experience with outpatient care are more likely to make use of other medical services offered by a healthcare organization, including preventative screenings and treatment.
These are some of the key areas where healthcare organizations are making changes. As more adopt the methodologies of Six Sigma to guide process improvement, patients can expect both better experiences and health outcomes.