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Patient Experience: The New Heart of Healthcare Leadership

Wolf, Jason A.

Frontiers of Health Services Management: April 2017 - Volume 33 - Issue 3 - p 3–16
doi: 10.1097/HAP.0000000000000002
Feature Articles

Summary In a healthcare world in which consumerism is no longer a question and value has claimed its place at center stage, leaders are called to think differently about how they operate and manage their organizations. Priorities are curving in new directions with shifts in policy, direction of dollars, and evolution of practice. At the center of this transition is an opportunity for healthcare leaders to recognize that patient experience is the new heart of healthcare leadership.

To address quality, safety, service, cost, and population health outcomes, leaders must rethink how they understand and engage in experience efforts overall. An intentional and clear strategic line of sight and purpose are required, including how patient experience is defined, the core concepts it comprises and is influenced by, and the outcomes it ultimately helps achieve. The challenge for leaders is to reconceive how this maximum potential can be achieved as compared with how experience has been traditionally managed through tactical efforts.

Quick lists of effective tactics are relatively easy to come by, and leaders are already aware of many, if not most, of them. So why do so many organizations applying these tactics today struggle to maintain the results they seek? The reason is that tactics are only as useful as the framework in which they are applied and as robust as the foundation on which they are implemented. The intent of this article is to stir a dialogue on how to reframe the issue of patient experience.

In reframing a collective view about what patient experience is, the way leaders choose to address it must change. This adjustment requires balancing the work of defining patient experience with the strategic intent behind what organizations ultimately aim to achieve. In changing the conversation on patient experience, we move it from an idea that lurks at the edges of healthcare, or that stands as just one of many strategic pillars, to the central call to action for healthcare leaders.

Jason A. Wolf, PhD, is president of The Beryl Institute—the global community of practice dedicated to improving the patient experience through collaboration and shared knowledge—and founding editor of Patient Experience Journal.

The author declares no conflicts of interest.

© 2017 Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives
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