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Patrick Kneeland, MD, Focuses on Patient and Provider Experience

Patrick Kneeland, MD
It has been two years since Patrick P. Kneeland, MD, assumed the role of medical director for Patient and Provider Experience at University of Colorado Hospital. In an increasingly complex climate where burnout is common, he’s working to give faculty members access to tools that enhance their experience.

Dr. Kneeland has been focused on three primary areas:

  1. Finding and implementing strategies that support improving the experience of patients and providers alike. 
  2. Using actionable and meaningful data to advance the conversation about measuring patient experience.
  3. Developing and sharing a framework and mental model that defines patient experience. 

“When we developed the position, it was important to me that patient and provider experience be considered at the same level,” he said. “We know from the literature that patients put a lot of weight on their direct interaction with their physicians. And we also know it’s hard to show up for patients in a meaningful way if, as a provider, you’re experiencing significant stress or burnout.”

That’s why a big part of his approach to improving patient experience is understanding the experiences of physicians and other health care professionals delivering care.

“So much comes down to relationship-centered communication—it’s so critical,” he said. “We’ve been focused on ways we can optimize interaction across our environments.”

Reconnecting to the human element of medicine enables clinicians to make the best diagnostic and treatment decisions. “It also helps us as clinicians reconnect to our own professional purpose.”

New Peer-to-Peer Curriculum Enhances Dialogue

Dr. Kneeland helped develop and implement an Excellence in Communication training curriculum, where faculty members learn “high yield” skills aimed at improving one-on-one interaction. The four hour, one-time course brings together 16 faculty member facilitators from across the clinical spectrum.

“It’s about sharing experiences of faculty members who are in this to do the best thing for patients,” he said.

The curriculum was launched in September. So far 120 faculty members at UCH have taken part in this training, and reviews have been positive. “It gives faculty learners access to a good cross section offering faculty members a chance to interact with people they might never encounter in their daily practice.”

Expanding the View of Patient Experience

Dr. Kneeland says that he occasionally hears the misconception that his role was created to “get physicians in line.” Yet the opposite is true.

“We want to be leaders in this space—in broadening how we think about patient experience beyond the typical survey. It’s using evidence-based practices to do even better by our patients, and by extension, our faculty,” he said.

He describes that patient experience data tells us, in general, that patients love our faculty and the care they receive. “But we also know there are opportunities to do better. Our goal is for every patient in every circumstance to receive optimal care, and to determine what our faculty can own in this space.”

“There are challenges in doing this well, but I’m optimistic about how receptive everyone has been, and how proactive they’ve been in incorporating these strategies into their own practices.”

Patrick P. Kneeland, MD is the Medical Director for Patient and Provider Experience at the University of Colorado Hospital and Director of Safety and Patient Experience for the University of Colorado Hospital Medicine Group. Dr. Kneeland is a graduate of the University of Colorado School of Medicine.​