Sean Keyser’s job is to gauge how people feel.

He’s not a psychiatrist or New Age guru. He’s the vice president of patient experience at Novant Health. And if the concept of an executive-level position at a major health system devoted to people’s feelings seems unusual, well, get used to it. And quickly.

Consumer engagement – some call it patient engagement, others frown at that moniker – is an up-and-coming concept. Driven in part by the surge in consumer-directed healthcare and evolving federal guidelines that tie patient satisfaction to bigger reimbursements, more and more healthcare providers are taking a keen interest in how consumers feel.

“We’re looking at so many things beyond just clinical care,” says Keyser, who’s held this role for some 10 years at the Michigan-based, four-state system but moved up to the C-suite level two years ago. “Today’s healthcare consumer is making decisions based on a framework that’s different from the past.”

That’s the key: Today’s healthcare consumer has choices, and today’s healthcare provider has to take that into account. People who are unhappy with the quality of their care will go elsewhere, and will tell others about it (a significant burden in this age of social media). Read More