The Patient Experience: How You Can Know – Outcomes vs. Process

By Kent McAllister

PART 2 of 4

Recently, Vyne Medical's Kent McAllister was featured in MultiBriefs sharing his thoughts on the patient experience and how you can know what is actually happening from the patient’s perspective in your health system. In part two, Kent shares his views on outcomes vs. process.

Outcomes vs. Process

The sort of data required to better manage the patient experience includes information about healthcare processes themselves, not just the outcomes of those processes. Some simple environments have proponents suggesting that measuring only the outcomes is adequate.

 

This is true when both the process is simple and the outcome is not of great consequence. Examples of this simple environment would be a cash-only mobile car wash service or a lemonade stand. The outcomes of cars washed or lemonade sold is probably adequate for some general assessments.

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But the proposition of only measuring outcomes is sorely inadequate when something possesses a degree of complexity or when the outcome is important. Think about an Olympic swimmer never analyzing the details of his or her stroke. Think about a professional golfer not looking at dozens of details within his or her swing.

 

These examples demonstrate why video recording has become a primary tool in the analysis and management of these athletes’ stroke and swing, respectively. There are details in these processes that until measured and the resulting data is analyzed, leave many potential improvement opportunities overlooked and unaddressed.

 

Obviously, healthcare processes are different than golf swings or swim strokes. However, they do have complexity that is more akin to golf and swimming than to lemonade stands.

 

The point is that healthcare processes that directly impact the patient experience involve a complex network of people, processes and systems that jointly culminate in the production of some outcome.

 

And if athletic achievement is best aided by applying available measurement tools to thoroughly understand and improve athletic processes, should we not bring similar measurement tools to the patient experience touchpoints in healthcare, especially when the outcomes are so important?