This sweeping rethink was partially the result of casting a wide net for expertise. The planning team, which included hundreds of experts ranging from architects to AI specialists, looked at age-old problems like how to reduce the risk of patients infecting each other (answer: big waiting rooms with lots of original art and play structures to keep people circulating) and how to reduce the incidence of sepsis (install infrared video cameras at ICU entrances to make sure clinicians wash their hands).
Still, the new Stanford Hospital is the exception, not the rule, in the healthcare industry. For example, just 20% of healthcare executives say their organizations have made major customer experience improvements, and only 8% say they’ve made major improvements to their employees’ experience, according to the ESI ThoughtLab/ServiceNow survey.
Some customer experiences today can be important eye-openers—for the wrong reasons. In the months before his death from pancreatic cancer in late 2018, Bart Wise got into the habit of taking photos of his test results when numbers flashed on lab-equipment displays. Although he was treated at a world-class Boston hospital, there was no real-time collaboration system, forcing doctors to try to stay in sync by communicating via countless email chains. Many caregivers came to rely on Wise’s snapshots for the latest information.
“More than one doctor told Bart, ‘what a great idea, I’m going to ask all my patients to do this,’” says his widow Nancy Wise, who runs Spring Street Exchange, a consultancy that helps healthcare systems implement digital technology.
This was just one of many missed chances to use technology to improve care and ease suffering for Bart. His experience was just one example of a problem in patient care that could have—but wasn’t—solved with technology. “Every person involved with Bart’s care was trying to do the right thing,” says Nancy Wise. “But it’s hard for anyone to find the time to step back and rethink how care is delivered. Everybody’s back is always against the wall.”