Patient Experience-The Quality of Your Data is Important!
Patient experience is key to growth and success for all health delivery organizations. Gartner has stated that the patient experience needs to be one of the highest priorities for organizations. The quality of your data is critical to achieving that goal. My recent experience with my physician’s office demonstrates how easy it is for the quality of data to influence the patient experience and undermine a patient’s trust in their physician and the organization with which they are interacting.
I have a great relationship with my doctor and have always been impressed by the efficiency of the office. I never wait beyond my appointment time, the care is excellent and the staff is friendly and professional. There is an online tool that allows me to see my records, send messages to my doctor, request an appointment and get test results. The organization enjoys the highest reputation for clinical quality. Pretty much perfect from my perspective – until now.
I needed to change a scheduled appointment due to a business conflict. Since I expected some negotiation I decided to make the phone call rather than request it on line…there are still transactions for which human to human is optimal! I had all my information at hand and made the call. The phone was pleasantly answered and the request given. The receptionist requested my name and date of birth, but then stated that I did not have a future appointment. I am looking at the online tool, which clearly states that I am scheduled for February 17 at 8:30 AM. The pleasant young woman confirms my name, date of birth and address and then tells me that I do not have an appointment scheduled. I am reasonably savvy about these things and figured out the core problem, which is that my last name is hyphenated. Armed with that information, my other record is found and a new appointment scheduled. The transaction is completed.
But now I am worried. My name has been like this for many years and none of my other key data has changed. Are there parts of my clinical history missing in the record that my doctor is using? Will that have a negative impact on the quality of my care? If I were to be unable to clearly respond, might that older record be accessed and my current medications and history not be available? The receptionist did not address the duplicate issue clearly by telling me that she would attend to merging the records, so I have no reason to believe that she will. My confidence is now shaken and I am less trustful of the system and how well it will serve me going forward. I have resolved my issue, but not everyone would be able to push back to insure that their records are now accurate.
Many millions of dollars are being spent on electronic health records. Many more millions are being spent to redesign work flow to accommodate the new EHR’s. Physicians and other clinicians are learning new ways to access data and treat their patients. The foundation for all of this is accurate data. Nicely displayed but inaccurate data will not result in improved care or enhanced member experience. As healthcare organizations move forward with the razzle dazzle of new systems they need to remember the basics of good quality data and insure that it is available to these new applications.