Skip to main content
Request a demo

Transforming the healthcare journey through the power of Human Experience (HX)

In brief

To drive real change in PX, employee engagement, and safety, you need to understand the human behind your data.

  • Identify the intersections of the Human Experience. Achieve true care transformation and excellence in safety by incorporating the consumer and caregiver perspective to your PX strategy.
  • Expand how and where you collect data. Deploy innovative new technologies to capture “experiential” input beyond the episode of care.
  • Zoom in on the caregiver voice. Employee engagement is intrinsically linked to the patient experience—as well as safety outcomes. Make sure your teams are actively involved in making key decisions and have the tools they need to be successful.
  • Segment data to glean valuable insights across populations. Make sure you’re not leaving anyone out or only hearing the loudest voices in the room. Transforming healthcare will only be successful if we understand the unique experiences of each human.

The patient experience. The consumer experience. The employee experience. Real and lasting change in healthcare requires a Human Experience (HX) mindset—one that incorporates a multi-dimensional approach in understanding the individuals receiving and delivering care in your organization.

The patient experience can’t be untangled from the employee experience. To deliver outstanding care, you need to focus on improving the well-being and resilience of your entire workforce. Employing an HX mindset is also the only way to achieve excellence in safety and clinical quality. Maintaining patient safety requires a holistic approach that includes building employee resilience, high reliability, as well as a commitment to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion both in the workforce, and in the patient experience.

By embracing a Human Experience approach, we have a tremendous opportunity to overcome healthcare’s most critical challenges. The key is to look at the human experience from every touchpoint, and to predict gaps and anticipate individuals’ needs. To accomplish that, we need to look at data from every angle, break down silos, and make real connections.

From there, we uncover concrete and actionable insights that can make a critical difference, now.

Unearth a full spectrum of PX insights

When it comes to data, your drill should go something like this: Gather. Analyze. Visualize. Act. But for us to be at our best at these steps, we must connect quantitative and qualitative information, and we must connect feedback and input.

Feedback is the backbone of the patient experience answering the question “How did we do?” or “How did you like the care we just delivered to you?” It is a response to events that have already happened. It lets us know what we did right and where we failed to meet your expectations.

Input on the other hand, answers the question “What would you like?” or “What would you have liked?” By inviting individuals to share their advice with us—based on their lived experience, desires, needs, and fears—we bring the voice of the individual consumer and patient into our healthcare organization. Through that voice we discover what we could do better to create an inviting, welcoming environment that helps patients understand the next steps in their patient care journey. When we engage patients in the design experience, we stop designing for them and, instead, design with them to ensure that our work meets their needs.

Structured surveys provide tremendous value to organizations—for example, they allow us to do key driver analysis and root cause analysis, both of which provide actionable insights.

When we can blend the insights we receive through structured surveys with those that come from social channels, comments, and ad hoc feedback, we add another dimension to our understanding of the healthcare journey. How are they encountering the whole system on their healthcare journey? What specific obstacles and frustrations are they facing? What needs can we better address?

Ideally, we can use those insights to analyze and interpret the data to give front-line care providers key recommendations that they can act on in the moment.

Patients, consumers, and humans

A major challenge in healthcare is that we approach the consumer and patient journeys as two distinct strategies. We need to embrace both the patient and consumer perspective in order to succeed.

More than 50%

of patients encounter friction in their healthcare journey, significantly impacting their loyalty

1. The patient experience

My “patienthood” is defined by my need and my interactions with a clinical expert. That patient relationship is a unique one: Almost no interaction that I have as a human presents the potential for more vulnerability and fear than when I’m discussing a healthcare need. (That makes the patient experience very hard to benchmark against experiences in other industries.) As a patient, I want respect and responsiveness to my vulnerability, my feelings, and my questions. I want answers, expertise, comfort, and reassurance.

2. The consumer experience

The moment I leave the presence of that doctor, nurse, physical therapist, pharmacist, or other clinical expert, I become a consumer again. And as a consumer, I expect to receive the same things from a healthcare organization that I receive in my encounters with any other service industry: namely, convenience and individualization. My experience as a patient does not translate to my experience as a consumer, which comprises a range of nonclinical interactions, from online portals to appointment making to parking to the front desk to admissions to billing.

62% of consumers

say that quality of customer service influences their loyalty to a hospital

Today, we have an array of innovative ways to bring the consumer and patient voice into the organization. We can now digitize focus groups, which were historically very expensive. We can use technology to engage patients and glean precision input. A QR code that leads them to a set of open-ended questions is just one example. Crowdsourcing is another. We even have the capability to follow patients as they approach their first visit through a digital community. Picture someone who’s just received a breast cancer diagnosis. What if you invited her to document her moments of uncertainty, confusion, or anxiety from the outset through texts, video recordings, or other means? In advance of the clinical encounters, are details such as parking, signage, and ease of website navigation meeting her needs and expectations? The ability to harvest real-time intelligence on such issues means an organization no longer has to guess what its patients want.

All experience is local. What works for your patients might differ significantly from what works for patients in another geographic location or medical specialty. Precision input from the people we serve empowers us to provide the more personal level of care that patients are demanding.

Seeing stories in color

Connecting with individuals gives us valuable information. Connecting quantitative and qualitative data—and feedback and input—paints a more complete picture and points us in the right direction for improvement. It helps us see in full color.

We need to bring together the operational and the emotional. On one hand are the details of a particular element of the patient or consumer experience—the cleanliness of a room, for example. Say we have 3,000 comments from patients about room cleanliness. First, we need a way to aggregate those comments operationally, because no one has time to read 3,000 comments—much less extract real insights. Fortunately, operational natural language processing (NLP) engines can bring nuance to the details, ranking the issues to which patients are responding.

On the other hand, we also need to bring emotional relativity to the conversation. For some patients, a room lacking in perceived cleanliness might be a mere inconvenience or annoyance. But for a patient who is undergoing a bone marrow transplant and is immunologically suppressed, that “dirty” room can instill great fear and emotional harm. On the emotional side, we must address the range of human experiences and understand where individuals are in their patient care journey.

In fact, studies have shown a strong correlation between hospital infection rates and patient perceptions of cleanliness. By connecting the operational and emotional, we have a more complete picture of the care experience and a better path to improve safety and quality.

The caregiver experience

Finally, we must bring in the caregiver’s voice. Human-centered design has three components:

  1. What would the consumer like?
  2. What does the data support?
  3. What can the team do?

When we design for the patient by involving the patient, we can achieve more predictable wins in improvements. Similarly, we need to bring in the people actually delivering the care. Before implementing a change, we need to ask the care team if they can accomplish it, and what they need emotionally and operationally in order to do so.

We can use technology to bring caregivers and patients together, so when we design and implement something, we have a much higher likelihood that it will work and keep working over time. Teams are coming up with ideas about how they might want to approach improvement, and as they’re designing that solution, they’re polling patients, through crowdsourcing or intelligent surveying, about how they would suggest tackling this problem. In the past, it’s been far too expensive to marry representative patient voice to representative caregiver voice when we’re designing improvements. But with technology, we can do that in a way that is scalable and sustainable.

Right now, many healthcare operators are overwhelmed by the prospect of trying to understand and meet care needs on an individual level. They need systems that will push those actions into their workflow. By getting ahead of those needs, they can avoid being overwhelmed by what they uncover and instead focus on making a difference in individual lives.

A Human Experience (HX) approach

Behind every piece of data and every visit is a human being. The more we understand the individual human, and meet their specific needs, the better the healthcare journey experience.

When we organize our efforts around the lived experiences of individuals, we grow more effective. That’s why moving beyond the average experience also includes attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)—both in your patient population, and in your workforce.

Maternity patients who identify as Black or African American report worse experiences across 97% of the measures asked across HCAHPS and Press Ganey inpatient survey questions.

Whether one’s experience is based on a clinical condition or diagnosis, sexual orientation or gender identity, veteran status, physical ability, or racial or ethnic background, we have the ability to segment and understand it at scale. For example, we might discover that LGBTQIA+ patients’ experiences differ wildly from others’ experiences—and that even within that community, transgender patients’ experience is an outlier. We can use structured surveys to identify the gap, then use deeper qualitative research and co-design to understand where and how those gaps are occurring and how to remedy them. Finally, we can share those recommendations across the organization so people are able to anticipate and proactively reduce the gaps.

Understanding the individual employee experience is equally critical. Press Ganey’s national data shows that higher scores for perceptions of diversity and inclusion are associated with higher levels of employee engagement. Importantly, better patient safety, quality, and experience outcomes are rooted in a strong safety culture and a highly engaged workforce. It's important to understand that there are key differences in how subgroups of employees perceive work culture. By first identifying the differences, you can begin to address why these differences exist at all. Again, complementing structured feedback with open-ended experiential insights is key—capture continuous feedback digitally to gather the voices of your broader employee base.

Each detail and encounter makes a difference. The webpage. The call center. The phone call. Online scheduling and portals. All shape the patient experience, the consumer experience, and the Human Experience.

So we must bring healthcare into the future, putting Human Experience at its heart. We’ve reinvented our industry-defining platform to connect the people, processes, and technology that form the modern healthcare journey, empowering ambitious leaders to drive real, lasting, and meaningful change. I urge you to join us in this mission. Because when we come together, we can improve the care experience for people receiving and delivering care. If you’re ready to take this next, important step, reach out and connect with a member of our team.

About the author

Chrissy collaborates with teams across Press Ganey to design, develop, and deliver strategies to boost patient experience that are informed by over 400 million patient voices. Chrissy works closely with healthcare organizations nationwide as a strategic and operational partner. Chrissy brings over 30 years of expertise in advancing the patient experience and building an engaging and collaborative culture. Frequently called upon as a guest speaker, she is widely recognized for her pioneering work in healthcare consumerism and physician performance data transparency.

Profile Photo of Chrissy Daniels