Welcome to Sheridan Memorial Hospital
1401 West 5th St. Sheridan, WY — 307.672.1000

What is patient experience?


By Kelly Lieb, DMSc, PA-C – Director of Patient Experience at Sheridan Memorial Hospital

From a patient’s perception, patient experience is about connection at each interaction and the simplicity and ease of moving through a health care system or encounter.

When you think about your last visit to a hospital or health care facility, what stands out most to you? Do you remember the color of the patient gown? Or whether there were warm blankets and coffee? Do you remember how your care team treated you? Were you treated with courtesy and respect? Or did you feel like just another patient in the provider’s day?

As the patient experience director at Sheridan Memorial Hospital, I often find myself explaning that patient experience isn’t about hospitality – the warm blankets, coffee and treats. So what, as a patient, should you expect from your health care interactions?

Patient experience is about a partnership – one in which both the care team and the patient have responsibilities. The health care team is responsible for the patient’s experience and for every interaction they have during their stay. This entails every employee of a health care system listening to understand and following through on what they said they will do. It’s about welcoming patients into a facility when they may be experiencing fear or uncertainty. It’s about sharing intimate moments of life, death, illness, pain, trauma, cancer diagnoses, surgery, healing, growth and loss. It’s about the simple stuff — the basics — and doing them really well.

From a patient’s perception, patient experience is about connection at each interaction and the simplicity and ease of moving through a health care system or encounter. It’s about understanding a diagnosis, a medication or a care plan. It’s about communication, responsiveness, courtesy, respect and being treated as a unique human. It’s about trust.

Putting the responsibility for a patient’s experience in the hands of the health care system does not excuse patients from their own responsibilities, though. In order to ensure a positive experience, patients must be prepared to share their story completely, accurately and honestly. They must also ask questions of their health care professionals. Respect, too, goes both ways. Patients should expect courtesy and understanding , but that does not give those seeking care the ability to treat their health care team disrespectfully . For the health care partnership to succeed, both sides – patient and care team – must work together honestly, respectfully and transparently.

Patient experience isn’t a new priority in health care, but it is one that has taken on a larger role as consumers have more and more options for their care. When patients have a safe environment and the highest quality competent care, their expectations are met and exceeded. In addition, compassionate healthcare encounters are associated with shorter hospital stays, fewer readmissions, fewer medical errors and malpractice claims, as well as improved provider wellness and decreased burnout.

The Beryl Institute defined patient experience as “the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.” As health care organizations around the country celebrate Patient Experience Week April 29 through May 3, consider your experiences and what stands out most to you.

Click HERE to listen to Kelly Lieb, DMSc, PA-C, and Teara Leibee, BSN, RN, talk about patient experience and patient responsibilities.