Patient experience trends shaping a human-centric approach to healthcare

Layne Anonsen | Oct 22, 2021 Layne Anonsen 10/22/21

The last 18 months have created unprecedented challenges for the healthcare industry, and the ramifications are likely to be lasting. Given the challenges at hand, it has never been more important for healthcare organizations to give a voice to the human experiences happening within their systems.

For this biennial study commissioned by The Beryl Institute, we evaluated not only the state of the patient experience, but how patient experience (PX) management efforts have helped organizations move forward, and where they’re falling short. The research identifies four key trends shaping the future of the patient experience. Here we’re sharing the first two trends—the others can be found in the complimentary report.

Trend 1: Growth of patient experience efforts has improved organization preparedness

In recent years, PX professionals have moved away from the minimum compliance of government-mandated surveys toward more robust patient experience surveys. In fact, reliance on the mandated survey (CAHPS) dropped 22%-pts from 2019 to its 2021 level of 46%. In contrast, 70% of organizations are using PX surveys, making them more popular than government-mandated surveys for the first time in this ongoing study.

The movement to PX surveys brings increased effectiveness, with 68% of respondents indicating their expanded patient experience strategy impacted the ability to address the COVID-19 crisis. Organizations relying on government-mandated surveys were half as likely to indicate their patient experience efforts helped them address COVID-19.

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The increasing prevalence of expanded PX surveys points to the continued growth of digital + always-on feedback channels that capture feedback across the patient journey. The fact that these efforts helped with operational effectiveness during the pandemic shows that this can be a winning strategy. More organizations are treating PX not as something they have to do, but as something that can lead to better patient care and a more effective organization. In fact, some organizations are doubling down on improving the patient experience, going so far as to establish positions for patient experience leadership.

To be more effective, organizations should expand to capture feedback across the continuum of care. Technological developments make it possible to move beyond outdated patient survey questionnaires to updated, modern approaches that measure each patient touchpoint and surface real-time insights along the patient journey. This change in methodology would stand to deliver significant improvements in both the patient and employee experiences, the latter of which is especially important right now.

Trend 2: Providers are failing to connect the patient experience with the employee experience

The last two years have severely stressed the human element of healthcare, and caregiver burnout is on the rise. Unfortunately, addressing this issue often goes unaccounted for in patient planning.

Organizations seem to see the shape of a problem, but they struggle to address it in patient experience efforts. Employee engagement is widely recognized as important—61% of organizations agree a highly engaged staff is the most important component of the patient experience. There’s also realization that the current climate within healthcare makes employee buy-in on improving the patient experience a struggle, as shown by a 5%-pt increase from 2019 to 2021 in recognition that caregiver burnout and stress is a barrier to patient experience efforts.

While organizations are establishing the building blocks for a successful patient experience program, they are not taking advantage of programs to improve the employee experience. From 2019 to 2021, there was a 10%-pt drop in the number of organizations that consider staff training and development among their top three investment priorities. Additionally, less than 1 in 3 organizations feel their current patient experience efforts greatly affect employee engagement and retention, and even fewer indicate physician engagement and retention is greatly impacted by patient experience efforts. This represents a huge disconnect between recognizing the issue and seeing experience management as a solution.

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With the pressures of the last two years, it’s never been more important to focus on ways to improve the employee experience in healthcare. Human interaction is, after all, the backbone of the healthcare experience, and it will be extremely difficult to improve the patient experience without satisfied and engaged employees. A siloed approach that separates patient experience improvement from the employee experience leaves organizations vulnerable to lower employee engagement and retention—costing time, money, and satisfaction with the patient experience.

Organizations in other industries have seen a high level of success by focusing on the employees as part of their experience management (XM) program. Research has shown that companies with highly engaged employees outperform their less-engaged counterparts in customer satisfaction and turnover. To gain a holistic understanding of what drives patient satisfaction and employee retention, organizations must bridge the gap between patient + provider experience management and prioritize the employee experience alongside patient experience efforts. Doing so will yield results at both the employee and patient level.

Download the full report for more insights on health equity efforts + funding priorities

In the second half of the report, we address trends and takeaways regarding the utilization of PX management efforts to address the rising motivation for organizations to address issues of health equity + disparity, and what organizations should keep in mind as they set funding priorities for their evolving digital strategy. To get the rest of the story on trends influencing patient experience management today, download our full report: 4 patient experience trends shaping a human-centric approach to healthcare.


Layne Anonsen | Senior Director, Client Insights

Customer Experience Update