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#1 way to improve performance: Taking a people-first approach to transforming healthcare


  • Top-performing healthcare organizations integrate data and share feedback across all departments and business units. Breaking down silos between patient experience, employee experience, consumer experience, member experience, safety and quality measures (and more) reveals a comprehensive, 360° view of your organization, allowing leaders to target their energy for action where it’s most needed.
  • Teams must be aligned on strategy, insight, and execution. To drive performance, boost profits, and retain an overtaxed workforce, we must focus on simplifying work, not asking people to do more. This means unifying data streams and cross-referencing feedback to take bold, strategic actions that drive meaningful, sustainable change.
  • The ROI of a unified Human Experience platform is irrefutable. Health systems that partner with Press Ganey across patient experience, workforce, and clinical tools see a significant increase in “Likelihood to Recommend” ranking, and significantly improve finances by making health and care better.

As the leader of Press Ganey consulting, I have the honor of meeting with health executives across the country every week. From Houston to Boston, Miami to San Diego, these conversations share a common theme. Leaders at health organizations, health plans, providers, and integrated systems must transform and challenge the status quo; what’s worked in the past will not work in the future. In today’s financially challenging environment, healthcare organizations must lower costs and make it easier for patients to access the best care—while making it easier for caregivers to provide it in the face of ever-increasing complexity.

In these conversations, I am struck by the urgency leaders feel to quickly improve the experience of care delivery, as well as the consistency of this message across all of healthcare.

An integrated, organization-wide approach to healthcare transformation

I’ve always maintained the mantra that we must simplify healthcare. From my role as a clinician caring for patients, to leading quality and safety at Kaiser Permanente, and even as the President of Clinical Care at Providence, I saw real opportunity to work smarter, not harder, to simplify health. Today, I’m sharing what I see as the #1 lever for improving your bottom line and igniting progress across your organization.

It's simple: people first. Unite your consumer and patient experience strategy, insight, and execution with your workforce engagement strategy, insight, and execution. Focusing on the Human Experience, and combining your consumer, patient, and caregiver listening systems, creates an alignment that delivers on the substantive change your organization seeks.

The work of experience delivery is owned by many—from clinical leaders to IT leaders to financial leaders, through the many enabling parties in between. These teams must be aligned on strategy, insight, and execution.

  • Strategy is the big picture of what you, as an organization, want to achieve. It's how you define success and align your teams. In healthcare, this might be around improving health outcomes or reducing costs, for example.
  • Insights help organizations focus on tactics to deliver on that strategy. They help organizations define actionable steps to improve.
  • Execution is how you actually deliver, putting tactics into practice—the workflows, toolsets, and processes needed to reliably provide high-quality and safe experiences at scale, every time.

Aligning your strategy around the “Human Experience” means you look across all the areas: consumer patient, employee, and member (plus provider and health plan). Engaged, competent, compassionate caregivers deliver the best patient and team experiences, which, in turn, impact outcomes and your bottom line. Better patient engagement leads to better patient outcomes, and a workforce that likes their jobs leads to better financial outcomes. Return on program investment is critical—but how do we track our progress?

The bottom line is that healthcare organizations around the country want to grow market share and improvement through affordable costs, an engaged workforce, and positive brand reputation. The best lever is a consolidated approach to “Human Experience,” combining consumer and patient experience with workforce engagement to take unified action.

How top-performing healthcare organizations stay a step ahead, across all measures

During my time at Press Ganey, we’ve seen a trend among top-performing organizations: They cross-reference and use their patient experience, workforce engagement, and nursing quality data (NDNQI) together. Our data science and analytics team proved there is immense value in thinking and acting across silos by comparing organizations that use the various Press Ganey platform tools relative to their peers.

Chart 1: Inpatient PX Top-box by Press Ganey Product Use

In evaluating these organizations, clients that use patient experience (PX), workforce engagement (also called employee experience, or EX), and nursing quality data (NDNQI) outperform clients who just use PX. This equates to an increase in “Likelihood to Recommend” by 18 percentile ranks and an increase in “Rate the Hospital” by 28 percentile ranks. It’s key to remember that for every five-point increase in “Rate the Hospital” there’s a 1% gain in net profit margin. Better experience is not a nice-to-have—it’s a critical business success factor for an organization’s future.

Chart 2: PX and EX Improvements Prior-to-Post Joining Press Ganey

Average improvement within 4 years of joining Press Ganey:

  • Up 11 percentile points in "Nurse Communication”
  • Up 5 percentile points in “Likelihood to Recommend”
  • Up 6 percentile points in “Rate Hospital 0–10”

How do we improve and sustain the experiences that people working in, and using, healthcare want and deserve? I’m asked this question often. And, as we all know, we cannot ask any more of our exhausted workforce. We must identify and reduce friction, get rid of unnecessary tasks, and use AI and automation to simplify repetitive work. Aligning metrics, tools, and our experience management strategy to deliver insights and execution creates the foundation for success. At Press Ganey, we’re confident that we can strategically partner to gain sustained improvement.

A recent analysis shows that clients that have been with Press Ganey for at least four years demonstrate an 11-point increase in percentile rank in nurse communication, which is a critical measure in workforce engagement. These organizations also see a sustained five-point increase in “Likelihood to Recommend.” Lastly, the “Rate the Hospital” metric improves by six points, which translates into a greater than 1% net profit margin for the organization.

For every five-point increase in “Rate the Hospital” there’s a 1% gain in net profit margin. Better experience is not a nice-to-have—it’s a critical business success factor for an organization’s future.

Press Ganey can work with you to simplify and co-design an integrated approach achieving cross-departmental collaboration and delivery of actionable change for your organization. The importance of managing experience delivery in healthcare is top of mind for many parts of a healthcare organization, but rarely do single leaders have complete accountability. It requires alignment and commitment. One way we do this is by using integrated technology to combine your consumer and patient experience data, workforce feedback, and patient safety and quality tools (like NDNQI) to identify and focus on which area you need to tackle first. We have a formula for this, and we know the right levers to pull.

How to pull the “patient experience” lever and increase margin through employee experience

Chart 3: Nurse Communication and Employee Engagement Combined for Greater Impact on PX

Healthcare is a complex industry, and leaders everywhere are facing what can feel like an insurmountable list of tasks to drive performance, strengthen profitability, and recruit and retain an engaged workforce from an ever-shrinking pool of people. While we know there’s no quick fix, we do have an approach to unifying the work, simplifying the actions, and delivering on sustained improvement: people first.

We clearly cannot solve all of healthcare’s challenges overnight. It’s going to take a continuous, committed effort on behalf of your organization and your strategic partners. We all need a place to start on that journey, and want to choose the path with the highest odds of success. And the data shows where that is. If we take care of our workforce, and make sure they have the tools and training needed to provide excellent and safe patient care, and focus on making the right thing easy for them to do, then we will start seeing real improvement. This leads to better outcomes for patients, and lower costs for healthcare providers. Which means healthcare organizations—lynchpins to health in our communities—will be here for us long into our future.

For an analysis of what this might look like at your organization, reach out to a member of our strategic consulting team.

About the author

As Press Ganey’s Chief Clinical Officer, Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips’ main focus is on improving healthcare value at scale. She is responsible for leading the Strategic Consulting team and Centers of Excellence. Prior to joining Press Ganey, Dr. Compton-Phillips was the President of Clinical Care at Providence, responsible for clinical operations and care including improving health, care, and value outcomes delivered by the 52 hospitals, 1,085 clinics, and 120,000 caregivers of the $25 billion health system.

Profile Photo of Amy Compton-Phillips, MD