Key Takeaways

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Effective care delivery involves more than just administering treatment or making clinical recommendations. It requires real connection to what people are going through to ultimately cultivate trust. 

And that connection starts with a comprehensive understanding of the patient experience.

In this episode of the Memora Health Care Delivery Podcast, our guest Joan Cox, Chief Experience Officer at Yuma Regional Medical Center, talks about the importance of going beyond the numbers when understanding patient experience, how to relay feedback to clinicians to foster better engagement, and how technology should — and shouldn’t — be applied to care delivery.

Measurement is critical for improving patient experience — but so is first-hand feedback

Understanding the patient experience has always played a role in successful care delivery. But measuring it has only become commonplace in healthcare in the past few decades. And this shift, Cox suggests, has helped providers prioritize the human element of care delivery as healthcare has become more intricate.

Consequently, more rigorous standards for patient experience have ushered in a corresponding abundance of metrics and data gathering requirements to track progress. Cox explains, “There is a very robust conversation that’s constantly happening around patient experience performance. And metrics are certainly a piece of it. You can’t measure whether the interventions and innovation that you are producing are actually working unless you can measure an increase in the data. So data’s critical.”

Despite the benefits of collecting and interpreting patient experience insights, Cox argues that focusing only on the numbers gets in the way of supporting meaningful patient-provider relationships. Cox remarks, “Where we’ve potentially lost our way is focusing on metrics and numbers and having those be our guiding light instead of patients, experiences, and people … data is only part of the conversation … Anecdotal information, qualitative information— it’s all really critical. We need to be asking questions in many different areas. Not just from one survey that we’re bound by contract to deliver.”

That’s why selecting the right innovative tools that reduce routine work for clinicians while collecting patient data is so crucial. By taking tedious tasks off of physicians’ plates, care team members can focus more on why they entered healthcare to begin with — to care for people.

Carefully conveying feedback — the positive and the constructive — is critical for fostering patient-provider trust

Beyond understanding the importance of first-hand experience, health system leaders need to think carefully about how feedback is delivered to providers. Most importantly, it needs to be paired with actionable recommendations for improvement.

Cox says, “I’m a very firm believer that you do not measure a provider’s performance without providing them with the tools to improve that performance … The way that you connect the patient and provider experience is by sharing the patient voice and doing it in a constructive and supportive way.”

However, Cox also notes the importance of communicating the real results — what’s working and what needs improvement — of clinicians’ work to ensure they understand how their performance directly affects care. Cox adds, “That being said, providers need to hear the true impact of their lack of engagement on a patient to understand what it means and how significant those small moments are … it’s those moments that provide that connection and bond between the patient and the provider.”

Technology should be used to assist care delivery, not replace workers 

Digital health technology takes the spotlight when it comes to imagining a more efficient and effective healthcare industry. But how innovation might be used to realize this future continues to generate healthy debate. 

Cox warns that technology should stop at substituting the human element, saying, “I have a really hard time comparing healthcare to other industries. I truly believe that there’s a place for technology in healthcare without question. But we have to make sure that’s complementing the human experience, not replacing it.”

Cox also suggests new technologies could enhance experience measurement as well as the application of healthcare. She adds, “Technology gives us the opportunity to be the most efficient and best-seated for analytics and care delivery … but I truly believe that needs to be [implemented] in conjunction with that human relationship.”

“Standardizing and digitizing our patient protocols, streamlining operational efficiency, integrating the way information comes into our practice into one platform, and enabling better human interaction. And the most important thing that we can emphasize is that this is not meant to replace human intervention, this is really meant to augment the relationship between the patient and their care team — so that the interactions that are taking place are much more personalized and efficient.”

- Suneeta Senapati, MD, MSCE, Director of Third Party Reproduction and Co-Director of Female Fertility Preservation, Penn Medicine on their partnership with Memora Health.

Read more about how Penn Medicine expanded access to fertility care.

That’s where intelligent care enablement excels. By proactively engaging individuals with natural language processing (NLP), it equips clinicians with unique insights into the patient experience while personalizing care journeys for the individuals they treat. And as delivering quality care becomes increasingly complex, this level of personalization will be even more important for fostering positive experiences across the care continuum.