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I'm happy to report that more than 60 people attended the interactive session Tama Duffy Day, Health+Wellness Leader, Principal of Gensler, and I led at the Healthcare Design Expo + Conference a few weeks ago.

They had come to explore "Patient Experience: The “X” Factor of Design" with us. The room was filled with architects, designers, construction managers, facility managers, clinicians, administrators, product manufacturers, researchers, students, and a few others.

Every patient wants a great healthcare experience, right? But how do we design for the optimal patient experience?

It starts with “why.”

Core of Experience is Intention

To dig into this, we first asked attendees to share examples of their own memorable healthcare experiences. Then we used the Gensler Research Institute's Experience Index to categorize those experiences and get people to think about the "why" behind them.

You can read more about The Gensler Experience Index here, but what we are most interested in is that at the core of experience is a person’s intention, or the reason they are embarking on that experience. Their reason for visiting informs how they will ultimately perceive and evaluate their experience.

Those intentions or “experience modes” form the center of Gensler's Experience (ExI) Framework.  They are task, social, discovery, entertainment, aspiration.

While most healthcare experiences are task modes (seeking to do something), there are also aspects of the healthcare experience that are social (interaction with staff or visitors), entertaining (positive distractions to take patients' mind off their situation), and aspirational (where patients feel empowered to do something). Discovery is a bit of a stretch, but I suppose visiting a doctor to explore doing some type of procedure might fall into that category.

More Questions

Then we asked attendees a series of questions, which were the same questions Gensler asked participants in a series of Health+Wellness Roundtable Discussions across the country this past year. Here are some of their responses.

What is Your/Your Company’s Definition of Experience?
  • Rewarding inspiring moments
  • "N" of one
  • Remarkable healthcare
  • Every connection point in the system
  • Putting the needs of the patient first
What Pieces of the Patient Experience Are Given the Most Attention?
  • Privacy and comfort
  • Communication
  • Patient rooms
  • Caregivers
  • Connecting points
What Have You Done/Seen That Improves the Patient Experience?
  • Positive distractions, such as music and nature
  • Systems and processes that reduce waiting, such as an app for registration
  • Clinicians that focus on the patient instead of the computer
  • Physicians who take the time to listen and genuinely respond

Consumer Perceptions of the Patient Experience

We ended our discussion by looking at the highest ranked components from The Beryl Institute's 2018 study of consumer perceptions of the patient experience:

  1. Listen to you
  2. Communicate clearly in a way you can understand
  3. Treat you with courtesy and respect
  4. Give you confidence in their abilities
  5. Take your pain seriously
  6. An environment that is clean and comfortable
  7. A clear plan of care and why they are doing it
  8. Ask questions and try to understand your needs and preferences
  9. The ability to schedule an appointment or procedure within a reasonable time period
  10. A discharge/check-out process in which your treatment plan and/or next steps in care are clearly explained

We asked participants to think about what aspects of the physical environment impact each of these components.

It's pretty clear that the physical environment supports pretty much all of these components. It sets the stage for how people communicate with each other, how well they are able to perform their jobs, and of course, how comfortable patients feel. I shared more of my thoughts on this in an earlier post this year.

Would love to hear your thoughts about Beryl's findings, your own patient experiences, Gensler's experience modes, or the questions above.  Please share in the comments box below or contact me.

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Leave a comment

Mark L VanderKlipp

6 years ago

Sara, great content as always! Communication in its various forms is, to me, the most critical component of any healthcare experience. While Gensler's tool focuses on a variety of environments, I'd take issue with the fact that "entertainment" is necessary in a healthcare setting. These days, many of not most people carry their own entertainment with them in the form of social media feeds or other personalized sources of information (including other humans). Less focus on the "pretty" and more focus on "preparation" is, to my mind, THE critical component of healthcare design.

Sara Marberry_013-Retouched-New copy

What's my story? I'm a healthcare and senior living design knowledge expert who writes and speaks frequently about trends and issues affecting these two industries. I'm also a strategic marketing consultant and content creator, working with companies and organizations who want to improve the quality of healthcare and senior living through the design of the physical environment. You can reach me at .

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