As we strive to meet the changing needs of the U.S. health care industry, delivering a very good patient experience becomes increasingly important. The patient experience is defined as “the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care” (The Beryl Institute). Accordingly, patient satisfaction is mostly a gauge of how we are doing internally.
In the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences, we have an opportunity to positively impact the overall patient experience at Emory. Each year, we serve nearly 250,000 patients and provide almost 700,000 exams. Among the patients who fill out a Press Ganey satisfaction survey for Emory Radiology, 70% give us an overall rating of “Very Good” (5 out of 5), an indication that they are likely to return and to recommend us to others. Still, that means that 30% of respondents did not have a “very good” experience and so we will continue, in the face of many challenges, to look for ways that we can ensure the best possible experience for all.
While the patient experience is much larger than any one Press Ganey survey, we review patient comments to help us see things from a patient’s point of view. Of the roughly 250 comments we receive each week, about 16% are negative and typically relate to wait times and poor communication. Below are recent examples, both negative and positive, that help paint a picture of what it can be like as a patient in Radiology.
Story of Harm: “I was kept one hour waiting after registering. I had to take the initiative to find out why. It still took another 20 minutes before I was seen. In total, 1 hour and 20 minutes wait time, more than one hour after my scheduled appointment time. No one seemed to know why I had been kept waiting. I will not come back, especially since I had to pay out of pocket for this procedure ('self-pay').”
Story of Charm: “The process was 'smooth as silk' thanks to the staff's professional decorum and pleasant atmosphere. I am especially grateful to the technician who was quite adept in making the imaging as painless as possible.”
These stories help remind us of what is good and what can be improved. There are small changes we can all make to improve our interactions, one at a time, with patients and with each other.