Incorporating the patient voice into health care delivery has proved challenging — particularly when there is little agreement about how to define and discuss the concept nor about how to measure its impact. NEJM Catalyst convened an in-person roundtable — among clinicians, researchers, and a patient advocate, moderated by NEJM Catalyst editors — to address these issues in depth. The roundtable and an accompanying survey of our Insights Council point the way toward a framework for defining the patient voice and integrating it into care delivery.
Understanding the patient voice is an important but elusive goal. Health care providers seek to listen to the patient voice and integrate it with care delivery to improve health outcomes. Patients increasingly demand to be heard. But encompassing the patient voice in care has proved challenging — particularly when there is little agreement about how to define and discuss the concept nor about how to measure its impact.
Health care systems invest enormous time and money trying to capture the patient voice through standardized measurement tools such as HCAHPS and patient-reported outcomes measures (PROMs). Nonetheless, our latest NEJM Catalyst Insights Council survey, “Measuring What Matters and Capturing the Patient Voice,” reveals that many providers haven’t figured out how to incorporate patient feedback in a way that systematically improves the care they provide. Nearly three-fourths (73%) of survey respondents consider this a major barrier to truly capturing the patient voice.
Insights Council members include clinical leaders, clinicians, and health care executives. Two-thirds of these respondents consider measuring and improving the patient experience to be a significant priority and a strategic goal for their organizations. Despite this, only 18% think their organizations’ efforts have been very effective or extremely effective in leveraging patient feedback for systemic improvements. This gap between the desired and current state suggests that health care providers should make a concerted effort to design the health delivery system of the future in a way that better incorporates the patient voice.
ROUNDTABLE PARTICIPANT COMMENTS
“It’s a sign of respect to recognize that patients are informed consumers of health care and you need to meet their needs.”
“You’re not going to capture the patient voice if you’re talking all the time.”
“Capturing the patient voice is a proxy for putting the patient at the center of our care.”
“It’s more about the will than the actions at present. We all think [measuring and improving patient experience is] a good idea.”
Download the full report to see the complete roundtable discussion, data analysis, Taxonomy of the Patient Voice, and survey methodology.
Join the NEJM Catalyst Insights Council and contribute to the conversation about health care delivery transformation. Qualified members participate in brief monthly surveys.