Developing a Strategy for the Improvement in Patient Experience in a Canadian Academic Department of Surgery

J Patient Exp. 2019 Mar;6(1):11-20. doi: 10.1177/2374373518774399. Epub 2018 Jun 1.


Patient experience (PE) is recognized as a key component in the quality of health-care delivery. Public reporting of hospital, division, and physician-specific PE results has added to the momentum of adopting strategies to augment this metric of care. The Ottawa Hospital embarked on a journey to improve PE as a pillar of its quality improvement plan. This article demonstrates the efforts of a single surgery department from one large urban center to improve in-hospital PE in the rapidly changing environment of medicine and surgery. A multidisciplinary group within the department and a focus group of previous surgical inpatients were organized to address immediate challenges related to inpatient PE issues. We identified concrete strategies to optimize pain control, perceptions of patient respect and dignity, perceptions of surgeon availability, discharge medication understanding, and overall experience. Also, we identified a need in our department for timely patient feedback, improved communication styles in our staff and trainees, and an internal curriculum offering additional training for our staff and residents. We anticipate that the current results would be of significant interest to other departments wishing to optimize their PE profile as part of the ongoing quality improvement process at hospitals across North America.

Keywords: clinician–patient relationship; communication; pain management; patient feedback; physician engagement; quality improvement; surgery.