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While industries like retail, hospitality and technology have endeavored to make customer experience a primary driver for innovation, the same cannot be said for most healthcare delivery systems. For decades, patient experience has been shaped by initiatives narrowly aimed at increasing efficiencies, controlling costs and improving outcomes. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which mandates the creation of accountable care organizations (ACOs), aims to make patient experience and engagement with their health and medical record a primary driver of improved outcomes, efficiency and cost savings.
The goals outlined for ACOs cannot be fully achieved without patient-centered insights and strategies to drive that engagement. To get a true picture of the patient experience, organizations will rely less on traditional silo measurements in favor of more holistic, longitudinal outcomes and experience measurements. While traditional research methods elicit information for many types of mandated objectives, they frequently fall short when a larger, more authentic understanding of the experience with a condition or care team is needed. Instead, researchers can deploy a multi-methods approach including tactics such as: ethnography; guided observations;  in-depth interviews; immediate feedback PDA interviews and daily debriefs; and care team insight workshops.
Patient health-related experiences involve deeply personal decisions, and rich insights are needed to motivate engagement. Regardless of the outcome of the pending health reform, if provider organizations are to achieve the full promise of accountable care, the patient must be in the driver's seat.
Jean Fasching is VP, business development, CMI

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