The catalytic role of Mystery Patient tools in shaping patient experience: A method to facilitate value co-creation using action research
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Abstract: Improving patients’ experience in hospitals necessitates the improvement of service quality. Using mystery patients as a tool for assessing and improving patients’ experience is praised for its comprehensiveness. However, such programs are costly, difficult to design and may cause unintended negative consequences if poorly implemented. Following an Action Research theoretical framework, the aim of this study is to utilize the Mystery Patient (MP) for engaging the patient in co-creating valuable non-clinical services and producing guidance about future managerial interventions. This was operationalized at the Outpatient Clinics at a large Academic Hospital in the Middle East region whereby 18 Mystery Patients conducted 66 visits to clinics and filled out 159 questionnaires. The results indicated higher scores on hard criteria or skills (technical), such as personal image and professionalism, and lower scores on soft criteria (interpersonal), including “compassion” and “courtesy”. The data also demonstrated how the MP tool could provide targeted information that can point to future interventions at any one of the patient experience core pillars, namely: process, setting, and employees. This paves the way for another cycle of spiral learning, and consequently, a continuous process of organizational learning and development around service provision. The MP tool can play the role of the catalyst that accelerates the value co-creation process of patient experience by directing management to necessary interventions at the three pillars of patient experience: employees, processes, and setting.