Understanding the experience of patients provides insight into health care as well as being a crucial first step towards partnering with patients to drive improvement. Increasingly, health care organizations gain feedback from patients about their experience through surveys. Patients are also turning to other avenues, including the internet, to document their experiences.

Although long recognised as a domain of quality, evidence of the link between patient experience and clinical outcomes has emerged more recently. Organizations that succeed in improving patient experience have adopted a strategic approach to patient focus that incorporates both patient feedback and consumer engagement.

Adopting a patient perspective sees leading organizations moving beyond ‘episodic’ care approaches to an extended patient continuum. The use of patient portals and access to electronic records foster a much needed two-way communication.

For the patient’s and provider’s perception of the care continuum to coincide, the ‘continuum’ definition needs to expand to complement population health management. Similarly health care delivery models and payment models will need to change to reflect the care continuum.

Patient experience fits into the overall healthcare picture more today than it ever has. As population health management, accountable care, and healthcare reform mature, the efficacy of those efforts depend more and more on how well providers can integrate the design of patient experience and empowerment into the expanding care continuum.