Just over a week ago the world lost a powerful advocate for our humanity. While Dr. Kate Granger, a physician turned patient advocate due to her own healthcare experiences may have left us physically, she will be forever present through a powerful legacy that rests at the heart of the patient experience movement.
I never had the honor to personally know Kate, but in what she accomplished with the golden minutes of life she maintained, I felt I have met her fully. If we believe our efforts in healthcare are grounded in the simple notion that we are human beings caring for human beings our lenses shift. We move from a notion of clinical protocol or programed action, to personal consideration, understanding and partnership.
At the heart of this idea is that in healthcare all of the moments we have – clinically or otherwise – take place at a point of interaction. It is at this point of interaction where experience happens. We are not nameless providers of care interacting with a diagnosis or room number, rather all that exists is a connection, one person to another.
As people, whether on the delivery or the receiving side of healthcare across settings, each and every one of us is an individual with a story, a heart, a soul, memories, dreams, hopes, fears and a name. Perhaps it is the latter, that I am person with a name, that serves as the frame for all of this. That is the legacy that Kate is leaving us.
Kate inspired an idea that exemplifies the fundamental simplicity behind ensuring the best in experience. For in our simple actions, we can have the most profound impact. Kate’s realization through her experiences on the other side of the bed were that we all too often missed one another as people, we didn't share who we were, we didn't share our name. As Kate revealed in an interview on her own experience, she was not treated as a person, but rather an object to be treated, stating, “I just couldn’t believe the impersonal nature of care and how people seemed to be hiding behind their anonymity.”
This led to a powerful idea and an emerging movement - #hellomynameis. This concept now used by hundreds of thousands of people globally was grounded in a simple concept. As Kate shared via her site, the purpose of #hellomynameis is “to encourage and remind healthcare staff about the importance of introductions in healthcare. I firmly believe it is not just about common courtesy, but it runs much deeper. Introductions are about making a human connection between one human being who is suffering and vulnerable, and another human being who wishes to help. They begin therapeutic relationships and can instantly build trust in difficult circumstances. In my mind #hellomynameis is the first rung on the ladder to providing truly person-centred, compassionate care.”
These words define the profound power of this idea and the importance of this legacy. If we are to remain true to the foundation on which healthcare has been built – on care, on connection, on healing the whole person and on the compassion it takes – this is an idea we cannot ignore. It is who we are in healthcare and reminds us of and supports us in being all we aspire to be. This idea personifies all I have seen as good, right and true as I have traveled around the healthcare world in search of experience excellence. So while Kate may no longer walk with us, we can carry her heart and spirit in every interaction we look to have and for the very hope that each of us has for the greatest healthcare can be. We must carry on this legacy and I encourage each and every one of you to engage in this cause. #Hellomynameis Jason and I, like you, am the patient experience. Join me!
To learn more about Kate and her effort, here are a few valuable links:
Hello, my name is Kate Granger
BMJ – Kate Granger
Globe and Mail – Andre Picard - Remembering Kate Granger, a champion of human connection
Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D.
The Beryl Institute