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Using maternity-care episodes as templates for improving patients’ experiences


Sanjay Shah, director of strategic innovation at Dignity Health, told FierceHealthcare that when the California-based system considered how it could improve  patients’ experiences, it decided to look at various  moments along patients’ episodes of care by  partnering with a startup focused on maternity care.

Mr. Shah said that the system wants to expand what it has learned so far to other specialties, including oncology and orthopedics, reports Fierce.

“The vision if this is done well, and so far things are going well, is ‘How do we take that experience and extrapolate to other patient experiences? [Maternity] was one we thought if we did right first we could replicate for others.”

The Dignity Health partner, startup Docent Health, studied Yelp responses for maternity patients at four Dignity facilities in Arizona. It found that more than 60 percent of maternity patients who had posted reviews had a favorable view of the experience.

Fierce said: “Many of the comments in the mined data were related to staff and how the patients were treated, with commentary about the hospital staff mentioned in 43 percent of the studied reviews. The study also identified a surprising area these patients were less interested in: Just 2 percent of reviews mentioned billing, an interesting discovery as the costs for maternity care can fluctuate widely.”

Docent has also conducted “welcome calls” about 15 weeks out from delivery to get ideas on what patients expect from care. “The organization identified top requests from expectant mothers, information that organizations can use to benefit other types of patients,” Fierce reported:

  • “Offer a tour: Some pregnant patients would like the opportunity to visit the labor floor and the maternity ward before they give birth.
  • “Provide clear instructions prior to registration: It can be confusing for some patients to understand the requirements for registration and how they can learn more about the care a facility provides.
  • “Ask about prior experiences: Pregnant patients who have had children before want to share their experiences, and that information can be valuable for clinicians to get a better idea of what works and what doesn’t.
  • “Make referrals easy:Expectant mothers will need to set up pediatric care quickly. Offer resources that can speed up that process.”

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