10 Opportunities for Patient Experience Intrapreneurs

One of the IHI triple aims is to improve the patient experience (quality and satisfaction) of care. Physician intrapreneurs, i.e. employed physicians acting like entrepreneurs within their organizations , are working hand in glove with other colleagues throughout their systems to meet the goal. Not surprisingly, some have achieved success and some have not.

Here are 10 things to consider.

1. The patient experience is generally a reflection of the doctor experience. Most every business researcher agrees that happy employees make happy customers. Happy customers make happy shareholders. The most immediate patient experience happens in the examining room out of sight of everyone. What happens before and after is frosting. Pay attention to making happy doctors.

2. Very few employees,including employed physicians , are engaged and it's causing concern in the C-suite. Don't say one thing and do another. Asking doctors to play nice with patients won't work when they know the only thing that matters is generating revenue.

3. Many doctors are burned out , discouraged and sometimes suicidal and they are begging for someone to pay attention. Burn out prevention interventions work 80% of the time, but are best executed using personal and organizational tools. They fatique and need to be reinforced.

4. Intrapreneurs have a much harder time creating value than most entrepreneurs. They have to fight a two front war-one to find the right product-market mix and another fighting off the corporate immune system looking to extinguish any disruption to the status quo. Most will try to innovate and keep it a secret for as long as possible.

5. Some patients are willing and able to participate in their care.Most are not and do not want to accept the responsibilty, liability or consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, 5% of patients account for 20% of spending and are probably in the latter group. Like the rising American electorate, immigrants, single women and millenials represent a different challenge than old white males.

6. There are many digital health divides including access. 20% of Americans do not have access to broadband. Seniors with multiple illnesses practicing polypharmacy are not the target audience. We need to include the family, caretaker and surrogate experience in the formula.

7. Most digital health products and services have not been clinically validated. Doctors want answers to their workflow problems and clinical issues, not media hype.

8.Everyone has a different view of what's "innovation" It helps to clearly define it and measure it . Some are incrementalist and tinkerers, others want to go big or go home. Some create solutions looking for problems that add no patient defined value.

9. Health care experience innovation requires leaderpreneurs who know the difference between managing and innovating.

10. You can't get blood out of a stone. Find the right people with an entrepreneurial mindset to champion innovation projects, surround them with the right team members and give them the freedom and resources to fail often and cheaply. Innovation is not just about people, culture and systems. Mostly, it's a numbers game and the more you try, the more you succeed.

Improving the patient experience is a worthy goal. However, the people signing the pay checks seem to think that everyone can do it, it is easy, and should just be part of the job. Now that's a frustrating experience.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at www.sopenet.org and linkedin group at ceo@sopenet.net