Today’s hospital leaders are devoting significant time and resources developing approaches to better understand the key drivers of the patient experience and create a culture of service excellence. They’ve encouraged and supported patient advisory councils, focus groups, patient experience committees and hourly rounds on patients. Their staff’s are instituting daily “huddles” to keep care teams informed and focused on patient service. They’re analyzing the costs versus the benefits of patient perks such as enhancing the physical environment and ambience, creating tasty meals, adding valet and concierge services, and extending visiting hours.
What many of these leaders are not doing, however, is taking advantage of a powerful tool that affords them an unmatched view of what patients liked and disliked during random investigations of the hospital. That tool is a mystery shopping report — detailed compilations of individual experiences created by various incognito “patients” from the time of registration or admission all the way through to discharge.
Mystery shopping reports are produced by individuals who have received specialized training on how to think, speak, and behave like a patient. These individuals have fictitious but believable symptoms or complaints. Sometimes a doctor or two is involved in the plan.