Patient Experience in California Ambulatory Care

Jill Steinbruegge and Giovanna Giuliani

Many California medical groups, IPAs, and safety-net organizations have been working on ways to improve the patient experience. The strategies and insights of a number of these ambulatory care organizations are described in this paper.

December 2010

The patient experience is the sum of a patient's interactions when accessing the health care system; it is also the patient's perceptions of those interactions. The patient experience reflects the dimensions of care that are most important to patients, including personal interactions and communications, access to care, and care coordination.

This paper describes the present landscape of ambulatory patient experience in California. It is based on a literature review and a series of in-depth interviews with high-performance medical groups and independent practice associations (IPAs), as well as ambulatory care organizations serving large safety-net populations.

The paper provides background on the definition, importance, and measurement of the patient experience, and synthesizes common strategies and areas of focus among the interviewees. It also describes the unique approaches and challenges of safety-net organizations in improving the patient experience. Among the topics discussed in detail:

  • Patient-centeredness as an organizational focus
  • Leadership commitment to providing an excellent patient experience
  • Robust measurement of the patient experience, transparency and clarity in reporting and communicating results, and using data for improvement
  • Engagement of staff and providers in the promotion, design, and implementation of patient experience improvement projects
  • Effective reward, recognition, and accountability systems to acknowledge individuals who excel and to provide feedback and support to individuals who need help
  • Use of strategies to improve access to care and to support providers and staff in adopting effective patient communication techniques

The complete report is available as a Document Download.