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Member Spotlight - February 2011
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FEBRUARY 2011 MEMBER SPOTLIGHT


DEBBIE THOMAS

Senior Director, Patient and Resident Experience
Sodexo Health Care Division
Nashville, TN




WHAT ARE YOUR KEY RESPONSIBILITIES?

My career has been focused on patients and families since I started delivering trays at age 16 at my local community hospital.As a registered dietitian, I have worked in the health care industry for the past 28 years moving from pure clinical nutrition to management of systems and processes. My career with Sodexo has allowed me to have many different jobs, but always in health care and always focused on patients, families, and caregivers.

My current role as the Senior Director of the Patient and Resident Experience allows me to provide leadership, research, design and development, training, communication, and implementation of Human Resources Operating Systems to enable cultural transformation within the Health Care Division consistent with the promise: "Patients and Residents are the heart of everything we do" and Sodexo's CARES (Compassion, Accountability, Respect, Enthusiasm, and Service) Behaviors. Some key responsibilities include:

  • Benchmark HR best practices from the health care industry as well as the hospitality and other industries

  • Translate overall Division Patient and Resident Experience Strategy to specific goals, objectives, and action steps leading to measurable results for our clients

  • Determine strategy for Health Care wide implementation of Human Resources tools supporting the Patient and Resident Experience

  • Provide consultation to Business Development and Marketing on topics related to patient experience and satisfaction.

  • Participate in future strategy development related to the advancement of the Patient and Resident Experience culture.

  • Collaborate with client and other industry leaders on advances in Patient and Resident Experience practice.

 

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CURRENT ROLE?

Research, design, and coordinate field testing of Human Resources tools to support/enable a focus on Patient and Resident Experience on a national basis to include:

  • Training a cross section of managers at all levels within the organization on tools and methodology to be tested.

  • Meet with key clients to ensure understanding of value provided to the unit through the implementation of the CARES culture tools.

  • Ensure implementation of Human Resources tools as specified by the field testing plan and collect data to evaluate outcomes.

  • The Patient and Resident Experience culture has changed the fabric of Sodexo. Our teams have embraced our CARES behaviors and the ability to make a difference in the perceptions of care in hospitals and senior living communities.

  • Implementation of these tools has resulted in increased colleague engagement and improved patient and resident satisfaction 


WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU ARE CURRENTLY FACING?

Continuing to innovate and implement best practices throughout a large decentralized national organization. The Health Care Division of Sodexo is a large complex organization where consistent implementation of tools and practices can be difficult. I work through a network of Area and District Culture Champions as well as Executive Leadership to ensure that the culture remains robust and ever improving. 


WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS OF THE FUTURE IN ADDRESSING PATIENT EXPERIENCE?

Increased employee engagement and attention to the needs of patients and families will continue to improve patient outcomes while hospitalized, but also post-discharge, ensuring that patients have the understanding they need to continue their recovery process.

The Patient Experience is a focus on what patients and families need from their health care partner, and, when those needs are met, HCAHPS scores will follow. Health Care organizations must think more of providing an outstanding care experience, not just on how they will be scored in a third party survey. Patients and families know when caregivers are sincere in our care for them as individuals and are not trying to predict how they will score the organization.


WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN WHEN NOT FOCUSING ON THE PATIENT EXPERIENCE?

I love to travel. My favorite travels involve exploring and understanding different cultures as well as eating great food! I also enjoy recreational day hiking.


WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO BECOME A MEMBER OF THE BERYL INSTITUTE?

The Beryl Institute provides me with insight and information on the newest advances in designing and delivering outstanding patient experiences. I look forward to networking with some of the most creative thought leaders in the health care industry. 


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