Patient Experience Summit 2015: Building Better Relationships with Patients

The concept of “patient experience”, and the national movement behind it, has been on the forefront of everyone’s mind within health research and care. What does it mean exactly? How do we make it better? Cleveland Clinic decided to tackle these questions, spark debate, and inspire innovation by congregating patient experience leaders, executives, nurses, and other stakeholders in downtown Cleveland at the sixth annual Patient Experience: Empathy and Innovation Summit. I was fortunate enough to be among them, debating the current state of healthcare and what the future holds.

The overarching theme was simple: “Empathy amplified. Hear it. Speak it. Feel it.” How can providers and nurses use empathy as a way to build better relationships with patients in order to improve their health experience and outcomes?

Patient Experience Summit 2015

Online conversation, via Twitter, occurred throughout the conference. Cleveland Clinic was fantastic at sparking conversation, such as with this powerful image asking the question:

“What is it that you want me to know about you as a human being beyond these walls?”

Notable Discussions

A roundtable conversation filled with Chief Nursing Officers from leading healthcare organizations concluded in agreement – better relationships between staff and patients, as well as between staff and staff, is key to improving the patient experience.

“The worst thing that can happen for chronic patients is to fall thru the cracks. These patients need to know that people behind the scenes are doing a better job of keeping the dots connected, but how does all of this get communicated to patients?” –Christy Dempsey, CNO, Press Ganey

Most agreed that technology could be the facilitator for these relationships. In this new era of digital connectivity, customers expect transparency, real-time interactions, and tailored care experiences. The healthcare organizations that meet these expectations will be the most successful.  However, technology is just the foundation for making this possible. The overarching shift in power between patient and provider must also be addressed.  It was stated over and over again that healthcare organizations need to proactively shift culture, operationalize a change process, hold all stakeholders accountable, support the failures as much as the successes, and include patients in the process.

“Open communication is crucial”, says Alexandra Drane, Founder of Eliza Corporation and Engage with Grace. Providers need to be able to discuss life events revolving around finance, sex, and personal relationships, which tend to greatly influence health issues, including diabetes, heart disease, and the litany of chronic conditions. A holistic view of the patient will lead to better diagnosis and health outcomes, as well as a stronger relationship between the provider and patient.

Patient Experience Summit

Unfortunately, the summit had to come to an end. But the inspiration that filled the hallways left with the attendees. It will facilitate the innovation that healthcare needs to push past the status quo – finding new ways to engage patients, tailor care and improve health outcomes.

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Patient Experience Summit 2015

Lizza Miller, CEO and Co-Founder, has expertise in behavior change, medical informatics, and healthIT that helps health research and care organizations attain a deeper understanding of, and engage in meaningful interactions with, those they serve.

She was an All-American Women’s Lacrosse player, international distance triathlete, and long-distance lake swimmer. Her current sport of choice includes the backyard trampoline and some fast flipping kids!


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