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We hear the term “patient experience” a lot. But what does it really mean?

I recently attended a session focused on answering that question at the Healthcare of Tomorrow conference from U.S. News & World Report. One of the key points the panelists made was that patient experience isn’t necessarily about making patients happy.

People seeking and receiving medical care are often dealing with a health problem that can be a challenging situation. What they’re most concerned with is that the medical services they receive will help them address the issue they’re facing. So patient experience is about instilling in your patients—and their families—confidence and trust in their care.

In this article about the panel session from U.S. News & World Report, Rick Evans, Senior Vice President and Chief Experience Officer for New York-Presbyterian Hospital, is quoted as saying: The important questions patients ask are: “Do they feel safe? Do they feel like they’re in good hands?”

To get further insight on this topic, I asked Christina Dempsey, Chief Nursing Officer at Press Ganey how she views patient experience. Here’s what she shared:

“Patient experience reflects everything that directly or indirectly affects patients across the continuum of care. It encompasses not only the care and service patients receive, but also their medical condition, prognosis, and the degree of associated suffering.

According to the final report of the National Quality Forum patient reported outcomes expert panel, a patient’s experience of care is his or her report of the quality of care received and should be treated equally to other health outcome performance measures.

Further, numerous studies have identified positive associations between subjective patient experience evaluations of care and safety, efficacy, readmissions, and health outcomes. This evidence supports the position that patient experience is fundamental to health care quality.”

So how can nurses enhance the experience of patients and their families—and thereby quality of care? Today’s eHealth solutions can help. In my next blog I’ll share examples of how nurses are taking advantage of technology to improve people’s experiences when they’re going through challenging health situations.

In the meantime, to learn more check out our Engage your patients page.

And please let us know if you have any questions or comments via email, Facebook, or Twitter.