Reducing Patient Suffering: A Shared Responsibility

  • An Introduction to Our Work

    by Deirdre Mylod, PhD, Executive Director, Institute for Innovation

    Measuring and quantifying the intangible — feelings and perceptions, fears, doubts, anxiety and uncertainty — and uniting insights from the patient voice with quantitative measures of care processes and outcomes has the power to uncover profound insights. It is this intersection of social science and business intelligence, the art of delivering compassionate care with an evidence base of processes and outcomes, that drives the Institute for Innovation. The vision of Dr. Press and Dr. Ganey and themes of the great work and initiatives of the Institute for Heathcare Improvement, Institute of Medicine, and National Quality Forum inspires our work at the Institute for Innovation.

    The Institute collaborates with health care executives and industry leaders, and is driven by their identified priorities. We established our Founding Executive Council earlier this year and it is an honor to work closely with a group of prominent industry thought leaders that share the same sharp focus on improving the patient experience. Our mission is to work together to identify the most critical elements of patient care that need to improve, and find solutions to make the greatest impact on patient experiences and outcomes.

    An important tenet of the Institute is to encompass the entirety of the patient experience by recognizing that each individual’s interaction with the health care system is complex and influenced by multiple physical and emotional factors. To transform the patient experience means addressing both the medical needs of the patient, as well as the physical and psychological suffering that may accompany care. It requires mitigating the unavoidable suffering that arises from the patient's diagnosis, or that can occur as part of receiving medical treatment. Additionally, it demands avoiding the creation of additional suffering that stems from dysfunction within our health care system.

    It is my pleasure to share with you our initial research projects which will focus on the efficacy of best practices, strategies for uncovering key drivers of variation, coordination of care and shared decision-making. I encourage you to read more about these projects on our new Institute web site.

    Our research will publish relevant and practical findings regarding the relationships among patient-level outcomes of care, best practices and the context and setting of care. As a researcher and advocate for reducing patient suffering, I find myself asking every day, “If we had new knowledge, what could we do differently tomorrow to improve the total patient experience?” I look forward to collaborating and sharing the insights and work of the Institute with you to uncover and drive forward new solutions to achieve this goal.