Leading Patient Experience Strategy to the next level

Posted on Nov 17, 2017

Rarely has healthcare—mainly hospitals—led other industries in customer satisfaction. For years, a number of hospitals have operated on the assumption that employing highlyskilled doctors and staff, acquiring the most technologically advanced medical equipment, and gaining international awards are more than enough.

Unlike hotels, restaurants, and car companies, these hospitals believe that excelling in customer satisfaction is no longer necessary.

“But this was before the healthcare industry entered the age of consumer awareness when patients have learned the importance of shopping for healthcare services and seeking the best possible overall experience when they need care. Interestingly, whenever these patients form positive relationships, they develop a stronger sense of loyalty to that particular medical establishment,” explains Ms. Emma A. Yuhico, St. Luke’s Medical Center VP and Head of Patient Experience Group.

Yuhico related that even Cleveland Clinic, ranked for years as the best hospital in the United States for excellent clinical results, had to reshape itself from a formerly “physician-centered” and “outcomesdriven” organization into a purposely “patient-centered” one. “

In 2006, Cleveland Clinic president and CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove, was invited by Harvard Business School to discuss a case about his hospital’s model of care. An MBA student, at the conclusion of his talk, raised her hand and asked Cosgrove if he taught empathy to his doctors at Cleveland Clinic. That student related that when her father needed mitral valve surgery, they knew about Cleveland Clinic but heard they had no empathy, so the family went to another hospital, even though it wasn’t as highly ranked as Cleveland Clinic,” Yuhico related.

In the years since, the changes at Cleveland Clinic have been dramatic and are well worth emulating as they realized that in just one question, there is much to gain for patient experience and can be a differentiating factor in attracting patients to a medical institution.

“It should be interesting to note that today, Mayo Clinic, of which St. Luke’s is a member of its Care Network, and Cleveland Clinic are not just two of the best medical centers in the US (ranked 1 and 2, respectively) but also recognized as industry leaders in putting the needs of their patients first and creating for them the best possible, most trusted and affordable model of health care,” says Yuhico who relates that as the country’s leading healthcare institution, St. Luke’s decided to organize the 1st Asian Patient Experience Scientific Meeting with the theme “Patients’ Needs First.”

The scientific meeting is slated from Nov. 16 to 17, 2017, and will be held at the Henry Sy, Sr. Auditorium located at the 5th floor of St. Luke’sGlobal City in Taguig.

Jason Wolf, president of The Beryl Institute, an organization dedicated to improving patient experience, will be among the foreign guest speakers invited. He will be joined by Cleveland Clinic’s International Patient Experience director Joe Sweet who will talk on the hospital’s “Patient Experience Journey”. Dr. Lyell Jones, representing Mayo Clinic, will talk on “Managing the Medical and Clinical Team in Building a Culture of Great Patient Experience.”

Lessen avoidable sufferings

“As it is, patients already suffer unavoidably from an illness. This is further aggravated by the psychological, emotional, and financial distress once they step into a hospital. Why not lessen this by not inflicting them with avoidable suffering brought about by plain detached or indifferent service devoid of empathy or compassion, bad quality service, unsafe medical care, and unexplainable costs?” says Yuhico.

She adds that if one looks at medical institutions that have the best reputation for patient experience, those are the same ones that boast the most satisfied employees and have the best financial performance. “We realized that by better understanding our patients’ overall hospital journey, we are able to create experiences that inspire loyalty and trust, benefiting both our organization and the people we care for.”

Share insights

“Through the 1st Asian Patient Experience Scientific Meeting, we wish to share insights and worldwide trends, which would help promote an overall great experience towards healing for patients when it comes to their needs and expectations before, during, and after their hospital stay,” says Yuhico.

The Department of Tourism, the Department of Health, the Philippine Medical Association, the Philippine Hospital Association and the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines are partners of this twoday event.

“St. Luke’s has taken the lead in rallying the industry toward achieving great patient experience because this will contribute greatly in making the country a destination of choice for medical tourists,” she says.

Interestingly, St. Luke’s boasts years of experience to back up its claims of providing exceptional patient experience. St. Luke’s became an early proponent of patient-centered care when it put up a Public Relations and Marketing Division in January 1989. It was initiated by Jose F.G. Ledesma who was then the hospital’s executive director (he is now the 2nd vice chair of St. Luke’s Board of Trustees).


“To ensure that St. Luke’s patients were well attended to on top of their medical concerns, Mr. Ledesma placed Patient Relations Officers on all patient floors. A patient evaluation survey was also initiated for both inpatient and outpatient services,” remembers Yuhico.

To this day, these forms continue to help St. Luke’s to immediately address patient concerns.

“Eventually, with Ledesma’s vision to render service comparable to hotels, the once ordinary Information Counter soon included a Concierge that brought the concept of hotel hospitality to the limelight and led to exceptional patient service, and linking key hospital departments in unprecedented ways,” describes Yuhico.

Most important

Yuhico explains: “Patient experience is never catering to patients’ every whim. Rather, it’s about understanding what’s most important to patients—safety, communication, service, quality care, access—and incorporating those things into the hospital’s patient experience offerings.”

Yuhico relates that the 1st Asian Patient Experience Scientific Meeting will be inviting only 350 to 400 participants consisting of doctors, hospital administrators, nurses, allied health workers and decision makers of the different Philippine and Asian hospitals. “We also expect the general public to be educated and informed that hospitals are here to give them an overall great experience that will contribute to their healing process and journey.”

Recently, St. Luke’s in Quezon City and Global City have obtained the services of Press Ganey, an international patient experience monitoring/surveying company that benchmarks the hospital against the best in the world.

“This validates our mission that we are committed to meeting the needs of our patients first. Great patient experience at St. Luke’s has become the rallying call of President and CEO Dr. Edgardo Cortez who believes passionately in patient-centered care and is leading this cause energetically throughout the hospital. He maintains that providing a great patient experience is the accountability, responsibility and commitment of every medical and non-medical associate of any healthcare institution,” says Yuhico.