5 Resources for Improving the Patient Experience for Medical Travelers

June 6, 2017

Patients face unique challenges when seeking care in a different country or region. There may be fear of the unknown, long flights, cultural and language barriers, and being away from friends and family - all while preparing for a major surgery or treatment. Healthcare providers treating medical travelers have the difficult yet rewarding responsibility of ensuring a positive patient experience across a Medical Travel Care Continuum™ that includes arrival at the destination, pre and post-operative stages, billing, medical record transfer and aftercare.

Here are 5 resources that any medical travel program can use to improve or enhance the patient experience for medical travelers. Several resources have been created by internationally recognized organizations whom advocate for patient-centered care, patient safety and continuous quality improvement.

1. Planetree Patient Centered Care Environmental Audit. The tool provided by Planetree, the global leader in advancing person-centered care, was created to evaluate how the physical environment of a healthcare delivery organization supports or interferes with the delivery of patient-centered care, with a particular focus on barriers and/or facilitators of:
• Compassionate human interactions
• Access to information
• Patient and family engagement
• Patient privacy, dignity and modesty
• A supportive staff environment

2. Achieving an Exceptional Patient and Family Experience of Inpatient Hospital Care. This white paper, created by the Institute of Healthcare Improvement, provides insight into a project that identified the five primary drivers of exceptional patient and family inpatient hospital experience of care: leadership, staff hearts and minds, respectful partnership, reliable care; and evidence-based care.

*Source: Balik B, Conway J, Zipperer L, Watson J. Achieving an Exceptional Patient and Family Experience of Inpatient Hospital Care. IHI Innovation Series white paper. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Institute for Healthcare Improvement; 2011. (Available on www.IHI.org)

3. Picker Institute’s Always Events® Creating an Optimal Patient Experience. Picker Institute adopted an organizing principle focused on the concept of Always Events®. Always Events® are defined as “those aspects of the patient and family experience that should always occur when patients interact with healthcare professionals and the delivery system.” The Institute for Healthcare Improvement is honored to have been chosen by The Picker Institute to assume the work of Always Events® when The Picker Institute closed its doors at the end of 2012. Picker transferred their Always Events® trademark and programmatic goals to IHI, effective January 1, 2013.

4. Cultural Assessment Tool. The American Nursing Association via Nursingworld.org published a paper authored by Joyceen S. Boyle and Margaret M. Andrews that provided a cultural assessment tool for healthcare organizations or professionals when considering the patient experience.

5. Patient Experience Toolkit. The Nursing Executive Center’s holistic strategy for improving the patient experience has three parts: cultivating caregiver empathy, overcoming universal process barriers to a patient- and family-centered experience, and diagnosing institution-specific process barriers. This toolkit provides seven tools that equip nurse leaders to bring the holistic strategy to life within their institutions.