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The State of Patient Experience 2019: Reflections and Four Considerations for Action

Posted By Jason A. Wolf, PhD, CPXP, Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Nine years ago this month in the Patient Experience Blog from The Beryl Institute, we introduced the definition of patient experience.

The sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture,
that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.

Those words remain true to this day and essential to all we have done to address the healthcare experience. As I offered then, “We will use this definition as a guide for how we build resources for our members. It will also serve as the standard for how we support and advocate for the creation of a positive patient experience across all healthcare organizations.”

This commitment and all it represents has guided the moments, months and years since that time; a time filled by the contributions, sharing and collaboration of thousands of people around the world, from across the healthcare spectrum and on both sides of the care experience, who have come together to elevate the human experience in healthcare.

This generosity of spirit has served as the fuel for the effort to do just what we aspired to do in 2010: to support and advocate for a positive experience for all across healthcare. It also serves now as the foundation for the continued exploration of what drives excellence in this work. The pursuit of exceptional experiences for all in healthcare – that is, ensuring safe, quality, reliable, service-oriented, cost effective, accessible, equitable and ultimately human care – now has taken its place at the strategic heart of healthcare itself.

This was reinforced in our latest exploration of the state of patient experience. In the fifth iteration of this study, The State of Patient Experience 2019: A Call to Action for the Future of Human Experience, we have seen trends revealed and opportunities elevated. While this piece is not intended to recap every finding (you can read about those in the full research report) it is important that we come back to where we started nine years ago in introducing the definition of patient experience itself.

Much of what we see today is rooted in the very ideas shared in September 2010 when we offered that a critical intention of the definition of patient experience was, “that we first must acknowledge that there is some "thing” called the patient experience we need to both recognize and address.” This “thing” as we knew then is even more essential to what healthcare is ultimately about. Experience is not a small part of healthcare, but rather it is woven into the very fabric of what healthcare is and continues to become. The results found in this year’s study underline that point.

So, in our intention to move to a future of healthcare grounded in experience, we are called to recognize and act on a few fundamentals. Many have been central to our focus at the Institute from the very beginning. Some we have discovered from our community as we have worked together to improve the patient experience and elevate the human experience in healthcare. With this I offer four essential considerations for action:

  1. Patient experience is not something healthcare does, it is who healthcare is. It is when experience is simply seen as a thing to do, a box to check in a complex healthcare world, that its possibility is immediately weakened. Experience happens regardless of plan or process. It is who a healthcare organization is and how it is perceived by others. It is incumbent on all in healthcare to build organizations that realize that every action, every encounter and every interaction create an experience for all involved.
  2. Patient experience is driven by all we do and, therefore, every effort must be approached with an integrated view of how it will impact the overall experience we provide. This is the essence of the experience framework itself. It is in understanding that all the elements it includes, the eight strategic lenses, while often operated distinctly in healthcare, must be seen as one integrated set of actions in ensuring an aligned and effective effort to drive experience and the outcomes we look to achieve.
  3. To succeed externally, we must focus internally. The idea that culture matters or that how we treat those who work in an organization will impact the experience of those it serves is not new.  The state of patient experience data from 2015 to today reveal a rapidly growing awareness of communication and employee engagement as the primary path to experience success. If organizations are not willing to work on themselves first, they will never ultimately achieve the experience success they seek.
  4. A commitment to experience will not (and must not) ever end. One of the greatest issues raised by healthcare organizations is that of sustaining success with their experience efforts. This raises an opportunity for all to consider. Experience excellence is not simply something to be achieved. That idea presents a false consideration as it suggests experience has been accomplished and your efforts done. But the need to ensure the best in experience never truly ends. It is about a relentless pursuit of excellence, about consistent delivery of intent and an unwavering commitment to the human experience at the heart of healthcare that will lead to the outcomes we all aspire to achieve.

These considerations offer a clear and solid footing on which organizations can build as they strive to ensure the best experience for all they engage. I have long shared that if we do not set the proper foundation for our organizations in healthcare, all the strategies, processes and tactics live on unstable ground at best, and therefore outcomes – and more so sustained outcomes – are at risk from the start. Yet, what the State of Patient Experience 2019 has revealed and has reinforced in what we found in both our exploration of Consumer Perspectives on Patient Experience and Influence Factors on Patient Experience last year, is that healthcare is moving toward a more comprehensive view of what experience is and recognizing the breadth of efforts aligned to realizing experience success.

From those insights and the reflections of our participants in this year’s study, it is safe to say patient experience is perhaps at the most exciting moment in its arc of life. From its elevation as a concept in definition nine years ago, through the shared journey of so many in the time since, experience as a concept and a movement finds itself at the start of a new era. The healthcare experience will now be driven by what consumers of care seek and will be grounded in an accessibility of knowledge by those consumers that is already shifting the fundamental power dynamics. If we only continue to address experience as something that happens when care is delivered, we too will fall short of what is needed and may very well miss where the market is going. This is where the work of the experience community must continue to evolve.

In understanding what healthcare encounters will look like now and into the future, the ideas and elements that influence those experiences will be vital to consumer choice, system viability and the health of our communities and populations served. Yet in the end so much of it will come back down to the simple ideas where we started nine years ago, that experience is truly the sum of all interactions that occur in healthcare, and those interactions are shaped by the culture of the organizations that offer them.

The future of patient experience is inspiring. The elevation of the human experience unquestionable. Now we must focus on nourishing our strong roots and feeding our big visions. That is what those who seek care every day will be looking for and those truly committed to what healthcare can be will expect to deliver every day.

 

Click here to download your complimentary copy of The State of Patient Experience 2019: A Call to Action for the Future of Human Experience.

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My Rearview Mirror: Reflections from a Former Patient Advocate

Posted By Tiffany Christensen, CPXP, Thursday, August 15, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, August 20, 2019

I became a patient advocate for a major medical center after my second double lung transplant (first for cystic fibrosis and second due to chronic rejection) and quickly learned that I was quite naïve about the job I had just accepted. In the three years I worked with CMS Guidelines to resolve complaints and grievances, I went home many nights crying, gritted my teeth all night long and woke up every Monday with a “new plan” to make this job into what I had hoped it would be. I wanted to help people, I wanted to be what the title said I was; “advocate.” Instead, I felt like my days were spent getting yelled at about things I could not really fix while emotionally fighting to stay above water in a sea of conflict. 

In the past month, The Beryl Institute has dropped a new podcast featuring four patient advocates and a White Paper exploring the role and all of its many sides. Both of these resources brought up a lot of memories for me and I took some time to reflect on what I experienced nine years ago. What I found was a hearty serving of regret. The crying, the teeth grinding and all of the other manifestations of my stress did not have to be so intense; perhaps they did not have to exist at all. My biggest regret? Not being able to manage my own thoughts and recognize that the patients were not stressing me out but, rather, I was stressing myself out. Perhaps a few examples would be best to illustrate what I mean.

What happened:

She knocked on my office door and I opened it to find an agitated and slightly frantic woman who began talking immediately, making it impossible for me to even invite her in. We stood in the doorway as she told me that her husband was being moved out of the ICU to the step-down unit after a heart transplant and she did not want him to move because the ICU was a much nicer environment than the main hospital.

What I thought:

“Well, of course the ICU is a nicer facility…it’s brand new and the step-down unit is in a building built in the 1980’s! Doesn’t she understand that staying in the ICU means her husband is sicker and moving to step-down means he’s getting well? That’s a good thing! Doesn’t she see that if her husband stays in ICU when he doesn’t need it, he’s keeping someone who is very sick from being in the bed they need? She should better understand the system and she should know that keeping her husband in ICU is just not an option.”

Looking Back:

Reflecting back on this interaction and so many others, I regret thinking this way. Not only because I was very far away from “meeting people where they are” but because these thoughts actually caused me stress. If I am being honest, I had thoughts like these about most of my interactions during the day. If we pile these thoughts on top of each other we have a day filled with frustration and a sense of always swimming upstream. I now know that there is a way to adjust my thinking so that I no longer cause myself stress AND I am more effective in these types of interactions.

Often, I carry a belief or judgement with me that I am not even fully aware of. In the example above, one of those beliefs might be, “Patients and families need to understand the system.” In this case, this would mean understanding that patients in ICU need to be a certain level of acuity to be in the ICU. When I believe the thought that this woman in my doorway should know this already, I feel frustrated with her assertion her husband should stay in the ICU. Internally, my chest clenches and I feel a little hot. I am impatient as she talks and am ready with my response of why “this is a good thing” and, before she is done speaking, I interrupt her. She does not feel heard and now the rapport is breaking down and I walk away frustrated that I have to talk with someone who is unreasonable. 

It didn’t need to be this way. The problem was not her request. The problem was my belief that she should understand the system. It’s my internal, unconscious belief that caused me to be irritated, not her. It was my internal, unconscious belief that made me impatient and took our conversation in a negative direction when it could have been one of support and encouragement. We could have ended in a place of celebration because her husband was leaving the ICU. 

So, why am I now looking in my rearview mirror and thinking I could have done things differently? Because now I have some tools to help me identify my stressful thoughts and turn them around. There are many ways to do this but, in this example, I want to use “The Work of Byron Katie” to see how this interaction might have played out differently.

Patient’s wife: “My husband is being moved out of the ICU after his heart transplant. I do not want him to move because the ICU is a much nicer environment than the main hospital!”

My internal thought/reaction: This woman doesn’t understand how healthcare works—of course her husband can’t stay in ICU! Other people need those beds and leaving the ICU means he is getting better so she should be happy about that!

I could pick multiple thoughts to inspect here: “she should be happy,” “she should understand how healthcare works” and “other people need those beds more than him” are all reactions that would benefit from exploring so we’ll just pick “she should be happy” and do a modified version of “The Work”:

 

“She should be happy”: Is that true?

Yes! Her husband is getting better!

 

“She should be happy”: Can I really know that that’s true?

Well, no, maybe there are too many other things/worries going on for her to be happy about this

 

How do I react, how do I behave, when I think this thought “she should be happy”?

I am frustrated with her for not being happy! I speak in short sentences and think about other people who have it worse, who are not getting better. I try to hurry her up so we can wrap up the conversation because I want to get on to helping others who are having a harder time than her husband.

 

Who would I be in that moment if I was incapable of thinking the thought “she should be happy”?

I would just be a person who is listening. I might be happy for her husband, even if she’s not able to see yet that leaving ICU is a good thing. I would be interested in her perspective and I would want to know more about why she prefers the ICU over the main hospital. Her concerns would be most important to me in that moment.

 

Can you see any non-stressful reason to keep the thought, “she should be happy”?

No. My irritation doesn’t serve anyone and, the truth is, whether she is happy or not is none of my business.

 

In healthcare, it is very easy to get into a cloud of irritation. It is such a stressful place to work that sometimes finding flaws in those we serve or those we work beside becomes a habit and we don’t even realize it. Sometimes, we work to be “less judgmental” in order to be a better person but we fail to notice that these kinds of thoughts hurt us first and those we interact with second. For me, realizing that I am in charge of my own stress just by noticing and inspecting my own thoughts is such a relief. The world isn’t happening TO me, I am responsible for how I see it.

I regret that I did not have these tools when I was a patient advocate. It’s my hope that sharing this might help someone who is currently working in healthcare see that there is a way out of this kind of internal stressor and give it a try. As you go about your day, notice your thoughts: 

“Patients should be nice to the people who are trying to help them”

“My boss should understand how much stress I am feeling and not give me more work”

“My colleagues should apologize when they are late”

As you notice these thoughts, remember to ask yourself the questions when you have a moment:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can I really know that it’s true?
  3. How do I react, how do I behave, when I think this thought?
  4. Who would I be in that moment if I was incapable of thinking the thought?
  5. Can you see any non-stressful reason to keep the thought?

Thank you to all of the patient advocates who are able to remain caring and grounded in a very challenging role. Thank you to everyone who works in healthcare and is able to be understanding and forgiving towards patients, families, staff and clinicians. Whether or not you choose to use this model of personal inquiry, I hope you are able to find peace within yourself during even the most frustrating or chaotic moments in your professional life. Patients matter and those who serve them matter too. Care for your own heart and it will then naturally care for patients.

 

Tiffany Christensen, CPXP
Vice President, Experience Innovation
The Beryl Institute

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Doing a Happy Dance for Fewer Emails

Posted By Stacy Palmer, Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, July 16, 2019

We send a lot of emails.  Those on our mailing list will likely agree. 

 

To be transparent, we’ve struggled with balancing our communications over the years. We have so much great information to share from the generous contributions of our members, and we’ve worked hard to ensure no one misses something that might support their patient experience efforts. But, at times our members have shared that the frequency of emails can be overwhelming. 

 

Earlier this year we brought on a new marketing manager. Emily is a polished communicator with great energy and fresh perspective. Within a few weeks she came to our team with a bold idea, “Let’s only send ONE email per week.” At first we gasped, as it seemed such a departure from our typical approach. But the more we listened to Emily’s reasoning, the more excited we became.

 

She reinforced the opportunity to make things easier for busy healthcare professionals, to consolidate our content and to create a publication that our community could anticipate arriving in their inbox on the same day at the same time each week. She believed there could be calm and rhythm in the predictability of a newsletter received in a concentrated format. 

 

In healthcare, we emphasize the need to listen to those we serve. Recognizing the opportunity to heed those words and put them into action at the Institute, we looked to our community for feedback.  First, we introduced the weekly email idea to our boards and councils. With their incredibly positive response, we then conducted four virtual focus groups. (Note: if you haven’t signed up to participate on our Virtual Focus Groups, I encourage you to do so!) 

 

The focus groups were unanimously in favor of the transition. In fact, two different members on two separate focus groups exclaimed they were doing a ‘happy dance’ at their desks as Emily shared the idea. They appreciated our understanding of their professional challenges, the intention to streamline content and the opportunity to contribute feedback to the process.

 

So, today, in an effort to consolidate and improve our communications, we are excited to introduce PX Weekly…your Patient Experience newsletter.

 

You will still receive all the resources and information you’ve come to expect from the Institute, just in a consolidated, weekly publication. While that means emails will be longer, we’ve designed PX Weekly to be consistent and clean with simple icons to help you quickly find your favorite features such as event calendars, podcasts, learning bites or blogs.

 

There will be occasions in which you receive additional emails from the Institute, but we will limit those to special announcements such as new issues of Patient Experience Journal, new white paper releases and event-specific communications for Patient Experience Conference or PX Pop-ups.  

 

Take a look at the first issue. We would love to hear your thoughts. We welcome any suggestions on how we can improve the newsletter to best support your efforts to positively impact the healthcare experience for patients, families and those providing care. 

 

We’re working hard to support your needs and hope this change will help keep you engaged, informed and better prepared to do the important work you do. (And maybe even inspired to do a little happy dance!)

 

 

Stacy Palmer, CPXP

Senior Vice President and COO

The Beryl Institute

 

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A Gift Not a Burden

Posted By Deanna Frings, MS Ed, CPXP, Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Memorial Day has just past and my thoughts keep going back to the long weekend spending much of it with family. It was raining most of the day and so I wasn’t able to put out our American flag as I typically do. I missed this simple ritual because as I’m placing the flag in its holder on the front of the house, I’m reflecting on the purpose for this holiday, connecting to the gratitude I feel (the sadness too) for those that have lost their lives in service to our country. While it’s a somber moment, I embrace the heaviness. It’s the least I can do.

That evening my husband and I ended our day watching the movie Saving Private Ryan. For those that don’t know the story, it takes place during the invasion of Normandy in WWII. Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) has orders to lead his team behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat. Experiencing the brutal realties of war, as they search for Private Ryan, each solider set out on a personal journey and discovers their own strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honor, decency and courage. Near the end of the movie, Captain John Miller is fatally injured. His final words to Private Ryan are, “Earn this.”

Some might think as I did, that this is a huge burden to lay on someone. My husband however, shared that maybe it’s a gift rather than a burden. To quote him exactly, “A gift even more valuable than his life being saved because it gives his life a purpose, to make their sacrifice worth something.”

What are the lessons we can apply in our own lives? If we use Memorial Day not as a single day to honor or remember the fallen, but as a day to remind ourselves of our duty to honor them every day by our actions, we make the country stronger. Can we use these same lessons to make our healthcare systems stronger?

At the Institute, our purpose is Changing healthcare by advancing an unwavering commitment to the human experience. We do this with and alongside you, the patient experience community. Whether it’s through our On the Road experiences, collaborating with you on White Papers, gathering at our PX Pop Ups, engaging in conversations during our PX Body of Knowledge classes or hosting our monthly webinars, we see you doing it with honor. The many actions you take every day are making the experiences of those you serve better and our health systems stronger.

Having a clearly defined purpose can be a powerful guide to action and I don’t think we have to make it too difficult or overly complex. As leaders in healthcare, I also encourage you to find opportunities to share your own personal journey with those that depend on you. Share what patient experience means to you, why you think it’s important and what you believe your team does every day that positively impacts the experiences of others. These simple actions when done with courage, strength and humility honor your teams and opens the door for them to connect to their purpose and make greater meaning of their day to day actions.

Those that work in healthcare often witness the courage with which patients and families face the fear and the uncertainly that comes with a personal healthcare event or serious diagnosis such as cancer. This alone is a great reminder of the purpose for the work that we do in striving to make the experience more comforting, easier to navigate and to embrace the heaviness and fatigue that can come with this type of work. I hope you see it as a privilege to share their burden and fears with care, comfort and compassion.

Our purpose lives on because of you. It will be through our collective voice and the actions we take together that we celebrate this gift that is given to us. The gift of striving to make healthcare more accessible and the human experience better and doing it with honor and gratitude. It’s the least we can do.

 

Deanna Frings, MS Ed, CPXP
Vice President, Learning and Professional Development
The Beryl Institute

Tags:  encouragement  honor  humility  leaders  memorial day  purpose  sacrifice 

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Introducing the Experience Ecosystem: Reinforcing community, collaboration and the integrated nature of healthcare experience.

Posted By Jason A. Wolf, PhD, CPXP, Tuesday, May 7, 2019

On our journey to grow the experience movement and The Beryl Institute community, we have built a vibrant and dynamic network of committed professionals and practitioners, innovators and researchers, patients and family members, caregivers and partners from around the world. This network, through its commitment to “share wildly and ‘steal’ willingly”, first shared in acknowledging the experience era in which we now find ourselves, helped shape an Experience Framework introduced by the Institute last year (Figure 1). The Framework is comprised of eight strategic lenses that represent the broad and integrated perspective needed to ensure a comprehensive focus on experience. Aligning efforts on these lenses is essential to ensuring the ultimate achievement of experience excellence.

 

Figure 1. The Beryl Institute Experience Framework

The Experience Framework, grounded in research from the Institute and the experiences of our community, offers a means to better codify, digest and access the information and resources that will support the community on our shared experience journey. It provides a structure through which we can individually, organizationally and collectively understand where we are on our experience journey, identify the opportunities we have and then connect to the resources and solutions that will help us continue on the road to experience excellence.

In our commitment to observe, learn, and adapt and to not just support the continuous improvement of the experience conversation, but also to elevate innovation, support sharing and ensure ongoing value for our community, we realized the Framework was only the core of the conversation. What we realized was the Framework was a means for identifying and connecting the vast collection of resources, organizations and solutions that comprise the broad efforts to positively impact the patient experience and the human experience in healthcare.

This recognition ultimately helped us to identify the Experience Ecosystem, which represents the comprehensive collection and interconnected system of resources and assets committed to experience excellence. The Ecosystem addressed a critical opportunity for our community and the movement by ensuring ease of access, expanded awareness and speed to action in tackling experience efforts by connecting people to the information and tools that could support their success. In developing the ecosystem three principal levels were identified and established:

  1. RESOURCES. This level is comprised of the resources offered by and through The Beryl Institute. The full extent of content, resources, research and tools available via the Institute community is now aligned with each segment of the Experience Framework for easy identification, access and application.
  2. ASSOCIATED ORGANIZATIONS. This level is comprised of the organizations that provide insights and resources beyond the Institute’s boundaries and/or complement our efforts. Providing a clear link to this vast network of organizations and underlining their connection to experience both reinforces the opportunity in alignment and the importance of connection and collaboration in this work.
  3. SOLUTIONS PROVIDERS. This level is comprised of product and solutions providers – those that have invested in being part of The Beryl Institute’s Patient Experience Marketplace – who have solutions and offerings that can support you in your experience efforts.

All Resources, Associated Organizations and Solutions Providers are now segmented by and aligned to at least two of the eight strategic lenses of the Experience Framework with which they best connect. This identification, curation and linking to this growing collection of content and knowledge is central to our purpose at the Institute to serve as a center for collaboration, connection and shared knowledge. Each strategic lens has its own landing page linking you directly to the information available under each of the eight lenses of the Framework. Ultimately, the opportunity with the Experience Ecosystem is to serve as a bridge from discovery to solution, need to action, opportunity to outcome. And this will happen in some new and exciting ways.

Within the Experience Ecosystem you will have the means to identify where you are excelling or have opportunities to address in your experience efforts. To complement the launch of the Ecosystem, we have introduced the Experience Assessment; a quick assessment tool through which you can individually or organizationally identify how you are performing in each of the eight strategic lenses. The Assessment is built on global research conducted via the Institute identifying the issues and actions of greatest importance to consumers in healthcare and those actions that high performing healthcare organizations have deemed essential to experience success. In aligning the data from consumer voices and the insights from healthcare organizations, the Assessment was built to evaluate the current efforts of an organization, provide insights for reflection and quickly uncover opportunities for action.

While the assessment can be taken individually by anyone as a single point of data, we encourage you to consider an organizational evaluation (currently available to organizational members of the Institute). The results report you receive provides a breadth of information from your overall Human Experience Index (HXI) score to individual scores on each strategic lens as you identify strengths and opportunities. On your score report, you will also find a link to the landing pages noted above leading you to more resources for each strategic lens.

In the end, the potential of the Experience Assessment is two-fold. Not only does it help with individual improvement efforts, but as the database of responses grows, we will have the ability to provide both insights and benchmarking comparisons to how the general market is doing. It will also help identify the broader opportunities we have as a community to focus our efforts on experience improvement, support shared opportunities for learning and identify those organizations that can help one another with the challenges they continue to face.

The Experience Assessment is built on our value at the Institute that there is not one right model for everyone, not one best solution for all to choose, and yes, not one organization that can say it will solve all your experience answers. This underlines the unique power of being part of the Institute family. As an independent, global community of collective voices with a commitment to experience excellence and to one another, we can ensure you find the best resources for your needs in a safe, helpful and impactful way.

The ultimate goal of this effort is to provide the means to support connection and ensure that what can sometimes feel like a disparate and disconnected range of information is now a thoughtful, codified and focused resource that supports and reinforces the ultimate purpose we live at the Institute every day: To change healthcare by ensuring an unwavering commitment to the Human Experience.

This purpose highlights our shared commitment as a community and reinforces the independent nature of the Institute itself. Our opportunity remains to objectively provide access and connection to the breadth of resources available and being sought by patients and family members, clinicians and caregivers alike in organizations and systems around the world. If we can bridge identified needs to the resources needed, if we can elevate and share strengths in a way that we all win, then we have truly done what calls us together in the experience community. In the end the Assessment and Ecosystem shortens your distance to discovery, builds a bridge to supporting resources, and quickens your pace to outcomes.

We believe introducing the Ecosystem does a few critical things. It helps ensure The Beryl Institute’s site is easier to navigate. It elevates and expands our reach and opportunity for excellence by connecting people to Associated Organizations and Solutions Providers that bring value to the conversation. In doing so it reinforces our philosophy at The Beryl Institute that through collaboration and cooperation, connection and purpose, we can and will ultimately elevate the experience conversation together.

The Experience Ecosystem, Framework and Assessment provides a means to help us get from now to the tomorrow we know we can achieve, and it is a tomorrow we WILL achieve together. We invite you to join us in the journey, take the assessment, apply the Framework, contribute your knowledge to the Ecosystem and we will ensure that healthcare is the place in which experience is not the outlier, but truly the heart of all we do.

 

Jason A. Wolf, PhD, CPXP
President & CEO
The Beryl Institute

Tags:  associated organizations  caregiver  ecosystem  experience framework  resources  strategic lenses 

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Staring at Walls: Who Are We Designing For?

Posted By Tiffany Christensen, CPXP, Tuesday, April 9, 2019

As funny as it may sound, the topic of “environment” within the Field of Patient Experience is somewhat controversial. Some professionals in this industry feel environment is the primary variable in patient experience while others are frustrated that it’s even part of the conversation at all. The 2018 Consumer Perspectives on Patient Experience 2018 study from The Beryl Institute shows that patients and families rank listening and communication as the key ingredients to a good experience while the age of the facility and parking are low on the list of importance. So how does environment fit into the puzzle of providing a good patient experience?

Safety

I went to see a friend of mine in ICU days after she’d had an unexpected brain bleed and hours of brain surgery. She had just come off the ventilator so this visit fell during a critical and tense time. During my visit, my friend began to vomit and appeared to be having difficulty clearing from her mouth and throat. I attempted to get help but, when I poked my head out the door, the nurses’ station seemed to be miles away and there were no clinicians in site. I went back into her room and attempted to get her on her side so she wouldn’t choke and fumbled around for the call bell. After a few minutes, a nurse came in and my friend was given the care she needed.

For days and weeks after that visit, that moment haunted me. What I remember most was the profound sense of being ALONE in there with a friend who was very, very sick. The ICU itself was beautiful and very large. So, large, however, it felt unsafe to have sick patients down long hallways far from any central point. Clinicians helping each other had to be far away from the patient they were caring for, essentially leaving patients unattended.

It strikes me that this ICU was an area of pride for this hospital; extremely high tech, modern, and, did I mention…large? But, that describes an environment that appeals to healthy people. From a clinical perspective, the mark was missed because those for whom the building was designed needed their clinician nearby, something this design failed to prioritize. It made me wish that I could ask the architects: “Who are you designing this for?”

Sanity

For patients being cared for over time, there are often stages of recovery. In my life as a CF/Transplant patient, my hospital visits have usually had the same progression:

  1. Arrive, sick, tired and with the sole goal of getting into bed to rest
  2. Begin feeling better, get more engaged in my care plans and ask about discharge
  3. Feel better, get more and more irritated with everything in the hospital and anxiously await discharge
  4. Almost time to go home, consider writing a letter with everything I am noticing could be improved and wait, like a dog at the front door, for the next clinician to come by and give me news
  5. Go home, feel grateful for my care and recovery, forget all about the “improvement letter” and work on building strength to get back into my life

It may come as no surprise that, during steps 1 and 2, the environment around me doesn’t hit my radar (Unless it appears dirty. In that case, I worry about catching something new while there.). During steps 3 and 4, however, my environment impacts my state of mind. Staring at blank walls or signs that say “Call Don’t Fall” do little to help me distract myself from being enclosed and antsy. Soothing colors, wall art I can dive into with my eyes and options for natural light can bring some comfort. There is actually science around this but it’s not a science we use often in healthcare. (For one great example of this, explore the work of Danish artist, Poul Gernes, who believed that colors could have a stimulating effect on hospital patients and help reduce pain and suffering.)

During a recent stay in a hospital, I took a photo (see adjacent picture) of my primary visual focus during the time I was in-patient. This sliver of a window facing the hallway was the one part of the room with life and hope; watching people bustle by and wondering if this would be the next person to knock on my door. This window is most of what I remember from my hospital stay. This is what I would call “the lived experience” of a healthcare environment. 

Space

I got a call early on a Monday morning that my mother was at our local ED after suffering a stroke. My 3 siblings, 2 brothers-in-law and my father all descended on the ED to sit with her through the testing and admission process. Well, perhaps I should say “stand with her.” Like many EDs, there was little space for the family beside her bed, even if we went in 2 at a time. That was alright for my siblings and I but my father is in in his mid-eighties, has trouble walking and was distressed over his wife’s sudden change in health status. In some ways, I worried more that there was nowhere for him to sit than I worried about my mom at that point. 

Watching him, and others, struggle with long walks from A to B (the walk from the ED to the in-patient unit actually required a car ride for him) and, once in a room, he seemed to receive little consideration as an elderly family member, made me wonder how often we consider family when designing spaces.

I have seen beautiful hospital lobbies with piano players and comfortable seating. I have seen hallways with compelling art pieces lining the walls. I have seen fountains and gardens on the grounds of healthcare facilities that take your breath away. These spaces are wonderful but are used quite infrequently in comparison to the space at the bedside, gurney-side or chair-side of a loved one seeking and getting care. I can’t help but wonder what might happen if we invested more in the spaces that most impact the patients and families rather than we often do on the common spaces? What if we focused on designing an environment that:

  • Was always built for safety before aesthetics
  • Supported the staff and clinicians in delivering efficient care without wasted steps, etc.
  • Enabled the shortest path from A to B
  • Was soothing and pleasing to the eye
  • Had room for family and clinicians so that all felt comfortable and valued at the bedside

Perhaps the “controversy” about how much emphasis should be placed on environment is less about how MUCH it matters but more about WHAT matters in supporting the human experience of healthcare. Considering these elements and working to understand the true lived experience of those really using the healthcare spaces, would surely make “environment” a key driver in experience.

 

Tiffany Christensen, CPXP
Vice President, Experience Innovation
The Beryl Institute

Tags:  environment  ICU  patient experience  safety  sanity  space 

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Expanding the Possibility of Human Experience - A Conversation with David Feinberg, MD, VP Healthcare, Google Health

Posted By Jason A. Wolf, PhD, CPXP, Thursday, March 7, 2019

In 2011 when the Institute was still learning to crawl as a community committed to improving patient experience, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. David Feinberg. He attended our first Patient Experience Conference at the Institute with his team from UCLA, where he was CEO at the time, and offered a powerful keynote on the power of leadership, culture and presence. He told a powerful and compelling story grounded in the very humanity of our healthcare system, of the potential at its core and of the possibility ahead for our healthcare organizations to ensure we took the next steps in elevating the care in healthcare.

Our connection has been maintained through the intervening years via On the Road visits and roundtables, shared panels and Grand Rounds, all the while through our friendship we realized often implicitly we were working to do something bigger for healthcare. That story of connection, that idea of commitment to purpose, that alignment around possibility and the humanity of healthcare frames the core ideas that have been the foundation for the Institute on our journey. It is these connections, these opportunities for learning, these shared commitments that makes this community a unique, innovative and safe place.

It is what also led us to my latest opportunity to connect with Dr. Feinberg as we launch a new offering from the Institute, The Beryl Institute’s To Care is Human podcast series. What was an opportunity to connect turned into a rich and robust conversation on the current state of affairs in healthcare and the opportunities we have ahead. While I won’t share everything we discussed (you can listen to the full podcast and access the transcript), I will offer a few reflections on what we discussed and how it frames the experience trajectory on which healthcare now finds itself.

 

Healthcare should be here to help

For the expertise on which healthcare is built, we cannot forget its purpose. It is not just about operational efficiencies, though we need them. It is not just about process improvements, though we aspire to realize them. It is not just about clinical excellence, though we must expect it. Rather it is around the needs of those that seek care to feel helped, cared for and understood. How do we ensure our systems can deliver on that human need? As Dr. Feinberg offered, “What we'd like the healthcare system to do is to say, we've been expecting you, we're ready to take you in, put our arms around you, and love you, and get you all the right stuff that you need to make the right decisions. That to me is the experience that we're trying to create every time for every patient.”

 

We must address the issues of healthcare systemically

So much of what we have done to improve healthcare has dispersed versus aligned our efforts. Games of improvement whack-a-mole, internal battles over constrained resources in protection of our operational silos have not done service to what healthcare can be. Rather than disparate, competing or even redundant efforts, we must strive to look at the needs of those healthcare serves and those who serve in healthcare as one opportunity for excellence. This applies to improving clinical quality and safety or overall experience, tackling burnout and fatigue and even financial challenges. And it stems from larger systemic and population health issues, not simply those confined to organizational boundaries.

 Dr. Feinberg suggested, “I see burnout as something different. Burnout started (and continues today) because doctors couldn't get things they needed for their patients.” He noted that if the circumstances around us prohibit our ability to do the work of healthcare, that may be our biggest impediment. If we cannot take care of the broader circumstances that impact experience and outcomes, we will continuously be spinning our wheels. He added, “To me, burnout is (tackled by) actually addressing the social determinants of health for those we care for. [This] will decrease the burnout of our providers.” Yes, we still need to ensure effective and efficient systems to support care, but [let’s] ensure “patients come first. Let's take care of them, and let's give our caregivers all the tools they need to be able to deliver on that care.” If we get that right, we are laying the groundwork for the best in overall outcomes.

Healthcare is fundamentally relational

 If healthcare is about helping and our ability to think systemically, it calls for us to change the way we think about how we operate. As a system built on task, checklists, and protocol, healthcare has become a primarily transactional system. This was done with purpose, but at what cost? As the largest people-facing industry in the world (for patient and consumers of care alike) the expectations as we have discussed are to support the relational nature of care. As a transactional healthcare system, we have attempted to bolster our transactions with relational practices to make it feel more personal, but rather our opportunity is in creating a relational system, and then working to find the best transactions to ensure that that relational system is effective. This idea summarizes much of how Dr. Feinberg has led in his two previous organizations. Dr. Feinberg added, “[Healthcare is] people caring for people, and if we give them the right tools, and get them the right caregivers, it's an incredibly rewarding occupation. I think you could put it up there as one of the most rewarding. If we can get that system to hum, I think bi-directionally, people will feel cared for. Those caregivers will feel also cared for because you just get to really enjoy very intimate parts of people's lives.”

Healthcare must ultimately be about keeping people healthy

If we are helping, with a systemic perspective and relational intent, then our ultimate calling is to keep people healthy. Keeping people healthy is about a focus on well-being, around changing the systems and structures of health and about access and affordability to care and services that can impact longer term care issues. If we separate out social determinants of health or population issues as something else we do outside of caring and the experience we provide we minimize voices, we shrink the possibilities of experience and we limit the ultimate capacity of care.

Dr. Feinberg supported this idea in sharing, “I'm a believer in customers. I just think it's really crucial to have that mindset to make things much better for those that we care for. I believe that when we talk about patients, it almost, by definition, means that our healthcare system only takes care of you when you're sick. So what do we call you when you're not sick? When we still could be taking care of you and preventing you from getting sick? Then are you a person, are you a customer? To me, those words are really important, [but] if we keep only focusing on "patients", we're only going to continue a sick care system. Instead of really talking about keeping people healthy.”

 

Healthcare experience remains at the “N of 1”

This idea that we have an opportunity to reimagine healthcare as a system that keeps people healthy as a means to ensure the best in human experience is significant in its simplicity. In many ways it feels the weight of the systems we have built in healthcare is the primary impediment to our capacity in healthcare to do what we know is needed and right. Yet if we can collectively recognize this challenge, we should be able to collectively address it. It feels as if much of the journey we have been on has been to elevate just that conversation. It is also the reality that for all the evidence we seek in the science of healthcare, the ultimate sample size we have is the “n of 1”. Human experience happens at the point of interaction of one person to another. This also means that anyone, in any place in our healthcare system globally can make a difference right now.

Dr. Feinberg reinforces this point in saying, “Often times I get asked the question, ‘You know, the CEO of my hospital doesn't think like you, [so what do we do?]" My answer is, wait a second, wait a second. There is a patient right in front of you. There's a clinic you're responsible for, there's a team you're working with. Everybody can fix this. You start with one patient. If you do it with one patient, it will have a ripple effect. Don't use excuses that your system doesn't think this way. You can think this way yourself. No one is going to stop you, and so you have this opportunity to do this stuff in your own little ecosystem. Even if those people up in the [c-suite] aren't talking the same language. Don't wait to take care of people.”

That may be the essence of human experience in itself. As Dr. Feinberg shared, “Don’t wait to take care of people.” And I would reinforce that this is not just those you care for, but those you work with and the communities you serve. Our capacity in this health system we have created is grounded on the possibilities we create between people. While the science may be miraculous, the humanity at the heart of healthcare is where the magic truly occurs. It is incumbent upon us to realize the opportunity we have as the dynamic evolution of healthcare will continue to gain speed. If healthcare is to realize its ultimate role as a place that exemplifies the pinnacle of human experience, and I dare say it should, these ideas will be central to our next steps. In an attention to helping and a systemic view, in a focus on the relational and a commitment to health, with a recognition that the person right in front of you is where you have the greatest opportunity right now to make the biggest difference, that is where the possibility of human experience is found. That is where the possibility of healthcare is rooted as well.

Dr. Feinberg’s generous spirit, vision and commitment to what is possible is inspiring, but as he has taught me, it is about what we all do with those seeds of inspiration that will have the greatest impact. I look forward to where it will lead us and am so grateful to Dr. Feinberg for our conversation and his commitment to this cause. Now is the time we all must sow the seeds of possibility.

> Listen to The Beryl Institute's To Care is Human Podcast Series
> Download the transcript

 Jason A. Wolf, PhD, CPXP
President
The Beryl Institute

Tags:  burnout  conference  health  human experience  podcast 

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Healthcare’s 10 Year Challenge: Reflecting on the Past Decade in Patient Experience

Posted By Deanna Frings, Thursday, February 7, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Recently Facebook challenged its users to post a current and a ten-year-old photo of themselves side by side. While I didn’t participate, seeing the many photos of those that accepted the challenge, did get me to think beyond what I looked like ten years ago to how much can really happen in a decade. I also heard a recent commentary by John Dickerson, co-host of CBS This Morning. His position was that reflecting back even a decade ago can interject perspective. What perspective can we gain by looking back and reflecting on the last 10 years in healthcare?

My first job in healthcare over 35 years ago was as a Respiratory Therapist. At that time, employees were still allowed to smoke at work. It wasn’t until 1991, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) mandated that accredited hospitals go smoke-free by December 31, 1993. Talk about perspective.

Working in healthcare my entire career has come with many changes. Ten years ago, I was working for a large integrated healthcare system in southeast Wisconsin. It was another five years before I joined my colleagues at The Beryl Institute in the role of Director of Learning & Professional Development. My role within The Beryl Institute is not the only thing that has changed. The healthcare organization where I worked my entire career up until that point, doesn’t even exist today. It was sold and joined another organization approximately three years ago.

Looking at our past can bring perspective to the present and even give us hope for the future. Before becoming a member of The Beryl Institute in 2012 and attending my first Patient Experience Conference, I came across the Institute’s definition of patient experience. This community inspired and developed definition has stood the test of time and continues to be a core foundation in any conversation on patient experience. In fact, in the last 6 years US hospitals that now have a formal definition of patient experience has grown by 38%.

During my first conference experience with The Beryl Institute, I heard Tiffany Christensen share her powerful lived experience as a life-long cystic fibrosis patient having received two double lung transplants. Today, Tiffany is part of The Beryl Institute team in the role of Vice President of Experience Innovation and will be introducing the first inaugural Patient Experience Innovation Awards recipients at the Patient Experience Conference 2019 this April.

It was also during the 2012 conference that I was introduced to the Patient Experience Body of Knowledge Framework. While I had the responsibility within my organization leading efforts on experience, it was the first time I had seen a framework that outlined the knowledge and skills of healthcare leaders doing this work. This framework has guided the development of comprehensive learning opportunities including the ability to earn a   Certificate in Patient Experience Leadership and Patient Advocacy. Today over 470 individuals have earned one of these certificates. These milestones demonstrate not only the Institutes’ commitment to the field of patient experience but the growing commitment within healthcare organizations across the country on supporting the professional development of their leaders and continuing to engage in efforts that have resulted in innovation in this field of practice.

Related to this milestone and another example of how things have evolved over the past ten years is remembering how my journey as a patient experience professional started. Like many, I was invited to join a system-wide committee within my organization charged with improving our patient satisfaction scores. This was not an uncommon beginning. In fact, when we first asked the question, Who in your organization has the primary responsibility and direct accountability for addressing patient experience” (State of Patient Experience 2011), 42% of the respondents indicated it was by committee and only 13% had a dedicated individual leading their efforts. Since 2011, we have seen a significant increase in organizations reporting they now have a specific person in a dedicated patient experience role. In fact, 70% of US hospitals that responded to the study, now identify having a senior leader with this responsibility.

As I continue to reflect on the past ten years in healthcare and the patient experience movement specifically, something that is becoming more and more common today that was not seen ten years ago are individuals with the credentials of CPXP behind their names. CPXPs or Certified Patient Experience Professionals is a relatively new phenomenon in our industry thanks to our community and our sister organization, Patient Experience Institute for developing a path to certification. This endeavor has brought a level of rigor and credibility to the field not seen in the recent past. According to PXI, today, over 860 individuals now hold the designation of CPXP.

So much has happened in a decade with so much more to do. The ten-year challenge is definitely more than comparing two photographs from then and now. In this age of social media which brings the dynamic of immediacy, pausing and reflecting back does interject a perspective that reacting to the immediate can never do.

For example, the inaugural study, Consumer Perspectives on Patient Experience 2018 was an incredible journey into the lens of consumers across the globe and their view on patient experience.  It profoundly reinforces that human interactions are most important when assessing their experience. That patient experience encompasses quality, safety, service and all that is experienced in any given health encounter. For those of us doing this work for a long time, on the surface, these two ideas might not seem like huge revelations but when we think about the conversations, we were having just ten years ago, these two ideas, that have become foundational cornerstones in the work of experience today, were still forming thoughts in our recent past.

Taking a snapshot of a moment in time can tell a powerful story but being intentional and purposeful of how we choose to move in the world will ensure we pass the next ten-year challenge. What are your hopes for the next decade? More importantly, what wisdom today will guide our actions tomorrow to ensure that the future of healthcare is what we know it can be?

 

Deanna Frings, MS Ed, CPXP
Vice President, Learning and Professional Development
The Beryl Institute

Tags:  body of knowledge  certificate  definition  healthcare  human experience  intentional  patient advocacy  patient experience conference  patient experience leadership  perspective  purposeful  pxi 

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5 Ways to Impact Your Patient Experience Success in 2019

Posted By Stacy Palmer, Monday, January 7, 2019
Updated: Monday, January 7, 2019

Embarking on a New Year tends to bring forth much reflection and anticipation. While 2018 was often shadowed by political tensions and shifting pressures on our healthcare systems globally, it was also a year of significant reinforcement of the value and purpose of the patient experience movement. 

We introduced two new research studies at The Beryl Institute in 2018, both intended to help validate and focus the patient experience field. A study on Consumer Perspectives on Patient Experience confirmed that 91% of consumers believe patient experience is extremely or very important and will be significant to the healthcare decisions they will make. And most recently, we published To Care is Human, exploring the factors influencing experience in healthcare today and reinforcing the relational nature where healthcare is grounded in human beings caring for human beings. 

As we begin 2019, I believe the patient experience movement is better prepared than ever to accelerate its efforts. And as your organization embarks on the new year, I encourage you to consider a few suggestions that have potential to positively impact your success:

  • Evaluate Your Strengths and Opportunities – As you reflect on the direction your PX journey took in the past year and plan for future success, I encourage you to take time to examine where your organization excels and where you have opportunities to grow. The Beryl Institute’s Experience Framework identifies the strategic areas through which any experience endeavor should be framed, provides a means to evaluate where you are excelling or may have opportunities for improvement and offers a practical application to align knowledge, resources and solutions. If you find there are areas of great strength for your organization, let us know so we can share your successes with the community. And if you identify potential opportunities in your journey, contact us and we’ll help you navigate the many resources available in the Institute’s library of content. To further assist the overall community, we’ll also begin highlighting a new strategic lens each month, offering new webinars and other programming around that lens and curating a selection of resources to help you amplify your efforts in that area.

  • Enhance Your Organization's Foundation in Patient Experience – When building a culture of patient experience excellence, it is essential to establish a foundation where all team members clearly understand what patient experience is, what it means to them and how they can positively impact experience excellence. Consider ways in which you can share patient experience knowledge on the front lines of care to positively impact experience outcomes. Last year the Institute introduced PX 101, a community-inspired and developed resource for use in orientation programs and other staff education. While not intended to be used in isolation or as a stand-alone resource, PX 101 can enhance your journey by distilling the resources and knowledge available via the Institute into practical, transferable learning to support your larger patient experience training strategy. 

  • Celebrate Your Patient Experience Efforts – Wherever you are in your journey, it’s important to recognize successes and commitment. Not only does this offer a chance to celebrate great work, it also provides an opportunity to reinforce the significance and impact of your efforts. Start planning now for Patient Experience Week 2019: April 22 - April 26. Patient Experience Week is an annual event to celebrate healthcare staff impacting patient experience. Inspired by members of the Institute, it provides a focused time to celebrate accomplishments, create enthusiasm and honor the people who impact patient experience everyday. 

While I believe the suggestions above can have great impact on your organization’s patient experience focus, I encourage you to be just as thoughtful in developing your own growth plan for the new year. We likely all have personal resolutions around health, fitness, finances, etc., but it’s important to also consider ways we can grow professionally as patient experience leaders. Whether you’re looking to make a career move in 2019 or build knowledge and value in your current role, consider these key steps to impact your success: 

  • Expand Your Patient Experience Network – One of the greatest benefits cited by members of The Beryl Institute is the power of the community – the ability to network, share and learn with others passionate about improving experience. Make a commitment now to attend Patient Experience Conference 2019 to be held April 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency Dallas. It’s the largest independent, non-provider or vendor hosted event bringing together the collective voices of healthcare professionals across the globe to expand the dialogue on improving patient experience, and you’re sure to leave with new information, inspiration and connections. 

  • Distinguish Yourself as an Expert in Patient Experience Performance – The best way to impact your professional success is to ensure you have the knowledge and tools necessary to succeed in today's healthcare environment. Through PX Body of Knowledge courses, The Beryl Institute offers certificate programs in Patient Experience Leadership and Patient Advocacy. With over 440 certificate program recipients to date, the PX Body of Knowledge frames the field of patient experience, defines its core ideas and provides a clear foundation of knowledge that supports the consistent and continuous development of current and future leaders in the field. Also consider earning your formal certification as a Certified Patient Experience Professional (CPXP) which is awarded through successful completion of the CPXP examination, offered through our sister organization, Patient Experience Institute. CPXP Prep Course workshops are available through The Beryl Institute to help you prepare.
At the Institute, our 2019 commitment to you is that we will continue seeking ways to support and elevate your efforts through offering the most relevant research, resources and connections – and by helping you to easily navigate these offerings. We have tremendous respect and gratitude for the work happening globally each day to improve experiences for patients, families and caregivers, and we will continue to provide a place for our community to share, learn, celebrate and inspire together.

If you have specific needs we can assist with as you embark on your 2019 organizational or personal PX journey, please let us know. We’re here to help!

Stacy Palmer, CPXP
Senior Vice President
The Beryl Institute

Tags:  accountability  body of knowledge  celebration  collaboration  community  community of practice  connection  culture  Field of Patient Experience  global healthcare  healthcare  Human Experience  improving patient experience  Leadership  member benefit  member value  movement  Patient Experience  patient experience community  patient experience week 

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To Care is Human: 3 Considerations for the Future of Patient Experience

Posted By Jason Wolf, Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, December 5, 2018

This has been an exciting year for the patient experience movement in which an unwavering commitment to human experience has been elevated and expanded globally. In our efforts at the Institute we have had the opportunity to engage the voices of healthcare consumers on their views of experience and what drives their decisions, we introduced the Experience Framework to reinforce the integrated nature of the human experience in healthcare and now just last week released our latest study on the influence factors on patient experience.

This is significant in that in linking these efforts together we begin to see for the first time in practice and evidence that there is alignment around what we can and should do to ensure experience excellence. This work lays out a pathway that while not surprising has been sometimes difficult to ensure a commitment to in a healthcare system driven by transactions, checklists and processes that overlook the very essence of healthcare itself – the human caring at its heart.

I shared a story to open Patient Experience Conference 2018 about how my son Sam taught me a valuable lesson in the power of human connection and how simple and brave we must be to ensure these connections occur. He showed me sometimes it just takes commitment, the willingness to reach out and acknowledge another human being in front of you for who they are, not what they have or what they do. This too is what consumers told us they wanted, and it is what we discovered in the findings of the Influence Factors Study as well.

For the Influence Factors Study, over 1400 respondents identified the factors of greatest importance to patient experience. In addition, almost 300 high performing healthcare units (as defined by achieving and sustaining high percentage of scores in the top box of 9-10 in the overall rating question on the CAHPS survey) representing 175 organizations provided input as well.

The study revealed that for both respondent groups how patients and family were treated and how they were communicated with had the greatest influence on experience. This was followed closely by the teamwork and engagement of care teams and core clinical indicators such as responsible management of pain and care coordination. Interestingly enough what was shared here, that is that experience is driven by 1) how we treat people we serve, (2) how we treat each other and (3) how we provide the quality people expect, perhaps provides the triangulation of factors that sums up the potential of and opportunity for an elevated commitment to the human experience in healthcare overall.

This discovery reinforces that at the end of the day our opportunity to care for one another as human beings is the essence of our work in healthcare. This was supported in the alignment of the influence factor responses with the voices in the study, Consumer Perspectives on Patient Experience released this summer, which found that that top-rated items of importance to consumers were, in order, ‘listen to you’, ‘communicate clearly in a way you can understand’ and ‘treat you with courtesy and respect’. The most significant realization in this finding in comparison to what were identified as the top influence factors was that not only were the top items nearly identical, in essence effective communication and respectful treatment, but also that these items scored significantly higher response percentages in both studies. This had them stand out clearly as the top items in both surveys and coming from two very distinct respondent groups.

What this means is that what people are asking for from healthcare, it is evident healthcare organizations know and high performers provide. So, then what has been in our way of meeting those expectations and needs? I offer it has been healthcare’s commitment to process at the expense of people and transactions at the expense of interactions that has undercut its very capacity to achieve this ultimate goal.

This is not offered to diminish the complexity of healthcare we face today, but rather to call us to ask if we are the reason for the very complexity that gets in our way. If we were to focus on these simple things, to build processes, programs, technologies and innovations to support and sustain this focus on the humanity in healthcare, would we see something very different in how we look to lead healthcare globally. That is our opportunity and the story I hope you will find of interest in our latest paper: To Care Is Human: The Factors Influencing Human Experience in Healthcare Today.

With this we are called in healthcare to come back to ground with three considerations that can help us all lead the experience effort forward. These include:

  1. Patient experience must be seen with an integrated focus that ties together the many facets impacting how human beings on both sides of the care equation experience healthcare. It must be operationalized with this broad and inclusive perspective.
  2. Experience excellence, at its heart, is about the relational interactions we have in healthcare. It is grounded in the kind of organizations we build to sustain quality, safe and effective healthcare for all engaged. We must move beyond simple transactions and find comfort in the human complexities that are at healthcare’s core.
  3. To care is human and above all else that must be a rallying cry for what healthcare can and must be. Yes, medicine is a complex science, but healthcare is not just about medicine. When we mix that science with the art that healthcare ultimately represents, we get a symphony comprised of the greatest experts, but one that only works when all those expert parts play together. And if we do that, the outcome will be truly magnificent.

The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying, “The human capacity to care for others isn’t something trivial or something to be taken for granted. Rather, it is something we should cherish.” I would add it is something we must acknowledge will require hard work, unwavering commitment, a willingness to try and fail and a focused commitment to excellence.

The things healthcare has shown it knows to be true and the things consumers are asking for consistently come down to something so essential I could be blamed for saying it too much – that in healthcare we are human beings caring for human beings. So, whether I am walking the halls of a VA facility or waiting in an essential hospital’s emergency room, seeking new research innovations from an academic medical center or being cared for in my rural healthcare center, or standing on any continent in any health system, in any healthcare setting across the continuum around the world for that matter, this universal truth remains.

It then is up to us to consider how we balance the science that has driven healthcare with the art that is what will enable it to ultimately succeed.  We can no longer say that all people want is for us to make them better. That has been healthcare’s driving outcome, but for the patients and families we serve, it has been a fundamental expectation that we do so. Where the real difference and ultimate distinction lies is in HOW we make them better, in the acknowledgement that in caring for the human in front of us and those who serve around us we are realizing the true potential healthcare has to offer.

Yes, to care is human, the evidence bears out its impact and value. And in giving ourselves the permission to hold that idea as central to all we do in healthcare we can and will reframe a system with a potential for care, wellness and healing we have only dreamed could be possible. Experience is not something else we must or should do, it is all one does in healthcare, it is time we acknowledge this and move forward with this new sense of possibility. What will be your first step?


Jason A. Wolf, PhD, CPXP
President
The Beryl Institute

Tags:  amenities  cleanliness  Clinical  defining patient experience  employee engagement  feedback  HCAHPS  Human Experience  improving patient experience  Leadership  patient and family  patient engagement  Patient Experience  policy  quality  safety  service excellence  signage  thought leadership 

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