Listen to Me. How Patient Experience Drives Quality Improvement

Amanda was tired and irritated. Once again, as she was filling out the paperwork at registration for yet another procedure in her long cancer journey, she was asked to list every surgery or procedure she’s already had. She was in her fourth bout of cancer in the last 11 years. Amanda had been through multiple rounds of chemo and radiation, including experimental concoctions that required her to sit with her hands and feet submerged in ice. To list each of her prior procedures was like reliving it. It was exhausting, disheartening, painful.

So, she shared this observation with a majority of gynecologic oncologists in Michigan. And now they’re looking at how to relieve patients of this onerous task.

Sometimes, a weary patient is a force for change. Particularly when hundreds, even thousands, of physicians and surgeons are listening.

Such is the case in Michigan, where doctors in several collaborative quality initiatives funded and supported by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan seek input from patients who have experienced the conditions, treatments and procedures the doctors are trying to improve.

Patients are active members of the project team in six CQIs. Patient participation helps the doctors better understand how their practice patterns impact what patients experience. In addition, patients bring new ideas for the project teams to study.

“We want to standardize care,” says Dr. Rebecca Liu, who leads a subgroup of the cancer CQI focused on gynecologic cancers. “But we need to choose, what are the things that are important to our patients.”

Both Dr. Liu and Amanda have seen first hand how patient input leads to improvements in care quality and processes, better health outcomes, and costs. Hear more in this video.

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