In the field of patient experience research, you never quite know how patients and families will respond to questions about their healthcare experiences. Usual responses to the usual questions include: “the care was good,” “the food was cold,” or “I really liked my doctors, but I don’t remember their names…there were just too many of them.”
This information is not new, not insightful, and likely not useful. Instead of asking patients to describe the hospital experience, shift the questions to achieve more meaningful answers. A few of our favorites:
1. What is the “word on the street” about receiving care at Hospital or Clinic XYZ?
2. What moment during your care at Hospital or Clinic XYZ most touched your heart?
3. If you ran the hospital or clinic for a day what one thing would you change?
When we asked similar questions of a female patient well into her 90s, we gained more insights about ways to re-shape the patient experience than we could have ever imagined. Nearly a year later, every member of our team can recite her sage advice.
1. “Databases, have you heard of them?” Patients who are sick really don’t want to repeat the same information over and over again. Isn’t that why computers exist?
2. “I may have slowed down, but I’m still here.” Respect patients cognitive abilities – age is no excuse to not address patients’ fears and concerns.
3. “Tell me where I’m going, for how long, and will it hurt.” It’s pretty simple. What’s the plan of care and itinerary for day ahead? Expectations play a huge role in experience.
What questions do you ask to improve the patient experience?