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The Beryl Institute Patient Experience Blog
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Patient experience excellence requires moving beyond resolutions

Posted By Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D., Thursday, January 8, 2015
Updated: Thursday, January 8, 2015

In talking with an old healthcare colleague this week about our plans for the year ahead, she shared one of her New Year’s resolutions was to focus more purposefully on improving the patient experience in her organization. While an admirable intention and perhaps also shared for my benefit as she knows I focus on this effort, it actually caused me to take pause.

The statement had me wonder where in the priority list experience now rests for both individual leaders and organizations. The Beryl Institute’s bi-annual patient experience benchmarking study as well as other research continues to show experience remains a top priority in healthcare. But, as my friend’s statement raised for me, I began to question if this priority was a resolution or response based on something one thought they should say or rather a statement of commitment to purpose and action. 

As we start 2015, we can say with confidence that great strides have been made as we continue to push the experience movement forward. I believe there is a greater agreement on the importance of experience overall as a driver of better outcomes clinically, organizationally and fiscally. There is also stronger recognition in the power of patient and family voice and perspective and an acknowledgement of the need to align efforts around an integrated approach to quality, safety and service improvement. Also of significance is an increase in formal definitions of experience being adopted by healthcare organizations (a question we will explore again in the 2015 benchmarking study) and the associated focus on personal interactions and culture as reinforced by The Beryl Institute’s shared definition of patient experience. Finally we have seen a rise in the role of senior experience leaders, i.e. Chief (Patient) Experience Officers, system level VPs of Experience, etc.

In thinking about what these indicators of progress represent, they represent much more than resolutions, which are simple statements of intent. These efforts and the impact they are having reflect clear commitments to action and they represent tangible investments in time, people and resources. That commitment is what I have come to not only believe, but also see as the differentiator in patient experience excellence and success.

I am often asked the question ‘what should we do to improve patient experience in our organization’; in fact my colleague posed just that question after sharing her resolution. I could tell that she, as many others do, were looking for the checklist of practices, in order of priority, she could put in place to make a difference. My challenge to this question was reinforced in the very conversation and came back to what the growth of this movement has shown us all.

The tactics are clear, reasoned and can have an impact, but it is a commitment to something bigger that leads to the best in outcomes. Commitment is about purpose and intent, focus and strategy. It is about building a plan that meets your organization and those your serve where they are and works to stretch them all as partners and contributors to where you want to go. Yes commitment is a choice, which I find to be at the heart of experience success, and then smart choices can help you to identify the "what’s” we all are searching for.

As we look to the year ahead, I can say without hesitation that the patient experience movement continues on. We look to help guide this at the Institute through our own commitments: the growth of our resources and a global community now almost 30,000 strong, the continued support of research through the expanded reach of Patient Experience Journal and the development of professionals through new learning and formal certification. And I believe the movement continues on more so because of what choices you and your peers will make.

In committing to experience improvement, be it in physician practices or ambulatory settings, acute care or pediatrics, long-term care or hospice, you have moved beyond the idea of a resolution. Your choices, the ones you help others make and the ones you offer and honor are where we will build the next levels of our collective efforts. I, your team from, and your peers in the Institute community remain committed to keeping this movement progressing and together it will lead to even great things for the year ahead. Happy New Year to you all.

Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D.
The Beryl Institue

Tags:  commitment  excellence  new year  patient experience  resolutions 

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When Focusing on the Patient Experience, Every Day Provides the Opportunity for “New Year’s” Resolutions

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I wish you a Happy New Year, both personally and from The Beryl Institute. The idea of the New Year has been around for millennia and has always symbolized a time of both reflection and foresight. It represents an opportunity to review past events and to plan for new actions.

The recognition of January 1 as the start of the new year (for many, but not all cultures) was solidified when Julius Caesar reset the calendar year to start on January 1. It was associated with the mythical King Janus, who represented beginnings and served as the guardian of doors and entrances. I found this metaphor of great relevance as we think about the patient experience and how important beginnings are. The patient experience is not simply represented by the doors and entrances of our healthcare facilities. We must think more broadly to the initial interactions that patients have with our organization. Whether it is on the phone searching for a physician, making that first appointment, or pulling up to be greeted by a parking valet, these are all critical beginnings in the patient experience process. These actions set the tone and frame the perspective of how a patient, their family and support network experience your facility.

In addition, Janus is traditionally depicted with two distinct faces – one looking towards the future and one into the past. I believe this is symbolic of the work we take on every day in healthcare. We engage in moments of care that have both strong histories and hopeful outlooks. Our patients’ stories are not simply single encounters in time, but rather they are grounded in the experiences that carried these individuals to our doors. And while rooted in the past, these stories are also focused on a future of healing and replenished health.

In looking towards 2011, we personally will look back at what we accomplished and plan ahead for what we want to achieve. I would suggest we also need to be aware that our patients are managing this in a much more vital way. As we create our patient experience resolutions for the year to come, one important consideration is to make an effort to understand the past for each of our patients. In doing so, we create a connection and present a level of understanding and compassion that can establish a foundation for a greater overall experience. We must also challenge ourselves to look forward and help our patients exceed expectations for what they hope to achieve through our care and what they aspire to be doing once they leave us.

At The Beryl Institute we are purposeful in our definition of the patient experience as "the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care". This includes all that comes before and after the clinical encounter. In this same way, as each of us considers our resolutions every year, we do not spend the time just thinking about New Year’s Day itself. The day is simply a doorway that transitions us from one point in time to the next.

When we realize that for most patients their stay affords this same experience – a chance to reflect on the past and an opportunity to plan for the future – new possibilities emerge. This happens, not just on January 1st, but each and every day. In healthcare, we have the opportunity to create resolutions with every encounter and more importantly to support the resolutions of our patients every day of the year. It is our job to look both forward and back, to help people cross that threshold of healing, and to ensure that the experience we provide is one that allows for dreams of a bright future ahead.

So what will your resolution be as you focus on the patient experience in 2011? How will you support the resolutions of others at every interaction? It could be the most important thing you do in caring for others this year! Here is to a fulfilling and rich year ahead.

Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D.
Executive Director
The Beryl Institute

Tags:  Continuum of Care  Patient Experience  Resolutions 

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