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With Healthcare at the Edge of Uncertainty, Human Experience Matters More than Ever

Posted By Jason A. Wolf, PhD, CPXP, Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happy New Year and I hope the first few days of January find you rested and ready for an exciting year ahead. I also recognize that 2018 brings continued uncertainty for healthcare and shifting pressures on our healthcare systems globally. This potential friction of calm and chaos is the boundary on which I believe we will find ourselves in healthcare for some time to come. And it is on this very active boundary where I believe we can and will thrive.

In the last year, we saw great strides in our efforts to elevate the patient experience conversation. Patient experience gatherings dotted the globe covering continents, inspiring national systems to refocus their intention, and encouraging new thinking and renewed purpose. Evidence continued to mount on the value of a broader commitment to experience and healthcare overall showed increasing commitment to a focus on experience as a central and integrated component of all we do. The State of Patient Experience 2017 revealed increasing investments, expanding scope and a realization that experience efforts are a clear path to achieving desired outcomes.

We were also guided by the powerful stories of those experiencing care. I was particularly inspired by the thoughtful call for compassion raised as we closed the year by Dr. Rana Awdish from Henry Ford and Tiffany Christensen, our new VP of Experience Innovation at The Beryl Institute at the IHI National Forum. Rana reinforced “We really can't presume to know the answer, we must ask generous questions to really know what matters to our patients,” while Tiffany challenged us to reconsider our perspective, asking, “What would happen if we admired our patients rather than pitied them?” and reminded us, “There is room for compassion on both ends of the bed.”

This idea of the need to connect, of a “both/and” versus an “either/or” in many ways is in direct conflict with much of the political and cultural climate in which we find ourselves today, where extremes are elevated and common ground eroded. This too represents that very boundary on which I believe we can thrive. It is through this expanded perspective on what actually matters that we realize we are talking about something much bigger – we are moving to a focus on the human experience at the heart of healthcare.

As I have reflected on this “evolution” in our journey, what I believe we have been doing is driving back to the very purpose on which healthcare was initially grounded. Before there were systems and structures, methods and machines, there was one human being engaging with another, one committed to help and one in need. It required both to participate, it took both to succeed…and it still does.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon recently said that while he frequently gets the question: 'What's going to change in the next 10 years?' he almost never gets the question: 'What's not going to change in the next 10 years?'. His point being the second question is actually the more important of the two. It is those things that remain stable on which we can build and through which we can find our greatest success.

While we cannot predict how policy will change and in what ways or what new constraints or challenges we will face at the boundary of calm and chaos, we do know that each of us in the business of human beings caring for human beings will continue to have choices. While they are not necessary choices in what illness or disease may befall you, you do have the choice of how you believe you deserve to be treated, in what ways you want to be treated and therefore ultimately where you will choose to be cared for. You have choices in how you will care for others, in what you will do to understand what matters to them and to you and ultimately choices in how you will care for yourself as someone committed to helping others.

That is the essence of human experience. That is the essence of healthcare. Where we go from here depends on that idea. We can use the uncertainty of the moment or the lack of clarity or variability of what lies ahead as a distraction, or even an excuse, or we can focus on what matters at our core. In our efforts to focus forward, I offer four considerations:

1.     Intention and clarity matter.

The growing number of organizations defining what experience is for their organization reinforces that a clear intention and shared commitment to that purpose is central to any opportunity to drive excellence in healthcare.

2.     Consistency is the antidote to uncertainty.

When the ground feels unstable we must find places of strength on which to support ourselves. Being consistent in efforts to elevate and expand experience excellence is a central way to remain focused on purpose, ensure positive outcomes and manage through uncertainty.

3.     Shared understanding/ownership will change how we work.

The opportunity now presents itself to move beyond engaging people at the personal level, to activating them as co-owners in their care. This is more than a focus on centeredness, which represents a one-way relationship, to a dynamic sense of shared awareness and understanding in which all engaged contribute to outcomes.

4.     Listen to understand ALL the voices that comprise the healthcare ecosystem.

There must also be a commitment to listening at the broadest levels in healthcare to understand what drives people’s choices, what motivates their actions and why this work is important overall. In acknowledging that each voice in the process is critical we also reinforce the value and purpose that had people choose healthcare as a place to work and elevate those receiving care (as Tiffany challenged us) from passive participants to individuals we should admire.

As we move into 2018 we will push this idea further, learning from each of you, honoring the voices of all engaged in healthcare, truly clarifying what matters to those impacted by what healthcare chooses to do and ultimately reinforcing that in each of those choices we each make tiny ripples that touch thousands and thousands of lives around our globe. That is the opportunity for us as we look to the year ahead and beyond, to thrive at the boundary on which we find ourselves and use the energy that this dynamic tension creates to spur us on. In doing so, with our eyes forward and our hearts grounded in the human experience, we can continue to change healthcare for the better for one another and for all it serves.

 

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

Tags:  clarity  compassionate care  consistency  healthcare policy  healthcare uncertainty  human experience  patient experience  perspective 

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At the Heart of Patient Experience is Caring for Those Who Care: A Call to Action for Those in Need

Posted By Jason A. Wolf, PhD, CPXP, Thursday, September 7, 2017

For the last two weeks, I have had the opportunity to visit two amazing healthcare institutions in São Paulo, Brazil – Hospital Sírio Libanêse and Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein – and meet healthcare leaders from across Latin America committed to improving patient experience. While there I had the unique experience of watching the approach of and resulting impact of Hurricane Harvey on Texas and Louisiana from outside the United States. As was evident in every report, the challenge this storm posed for the communities it impacted, their infrastructure and their healthcare organizations placed a significant strain on the system and created great need.

As we have seen in patient experience efforts around the globe, a central priority has emerged, one focused on taking care of not just those we serve in healthcare, but the people serving as well. This idea of caring for our team and staff in healthcare, of ensuring the engagement and care of our employees, was in fact the fastest growing point of focus in supporting patient experience success in The State of Patient Experience 2017. It is clear that taking care of those who give of themselves in healthcare is something we cannot and should not take lightly. This is no more relevant than at this moment in cities such as Houston, TX in the aftermath of Harvey (and now for those in the path of Hurricane Irma).

For all that healthcare organizations have done to support the needs of their communities impacted by Harvey, they too have been literally underwater. With many instances of organizations with disrupted and/or discontinued services, these organizations have stretched their capacity to care for the communities they serve. Yet, what we must realize is that those providing care are not only caregivers, they are the affected themselves. They too may be displaced by flooding or damage, their families impacted and their lives disrupted, yet they have remained steadfast in their efforts to care for those in need.

It is in times like this where the need to care for those who provide care is impossible to miss. It also reinforces that we cannot and should not overlook this need any day in which we are looking to provide the best in care for our communities, for the best in care starts with taking care of our own people. And this critical time calls on not just the organizations impacted to step up, but truly all of us with the means and/or desire to help to do the same.

Our colleagues at ACHE last week called for the support of an effort at the Texas Hospital Association, which has established the THA Hospital Employee Assistance Fund to help hospital employees who experienced significant property loss or damage due to Hurricane Harvey. There are also still significant needs for all those impacted by this event that can be supported via the American Red Cross and numerous other charitable opportunities.

These needs and the opportunities to help are now being elevated by the latest storm, Irma. With her eye already impacting many and set at one of the busiest hubs of healthcare activity in the United States, the need to care for one another and our call to take care of others is only further reinforced. This is not a time to sit idly by, but rather recognize that whether in the path of a literal storm or in the dynamic and chaotic environment that healthcare globally presents, we must never overlook the opportunity to care for those who care.

In the industry of caring for others that healthcare represents and the profession of patient experience that is emerging at its core, we must not forget that our primary means of delivering on our purpose, promise and commitments is through the very people who give of themselves every day to care for others. It is in times like this that we all must step up to care for and support them.

I invite you to join us in this effort, to support the affected members of our community and all those in need. For in healthcare, where we are human beings caring for human beings, and with an unwavering commitment to the human experience in healthcare (and beyond), we are called to act and help those in our communities who need us. There may be no greater purpose in our work, and no greater effort in ensuring we maintain the best in experience for all we care for and serve. Thank you for joining us in this effort as our deepest thoughts and warmest wishes go to all impacted by Harvey and those preparing for the arrival of Irma.

The following links will allow you to learn more about and contribute to the following causes and I invite you to share other means of support for these efforts via the comments section below:

THA Hospital Employee Assistance Fund

 American Red Cross

 

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

Tags:  community  compassion  compassionate care  employee engagement  houston  hurricane harvey  hurricane relief 

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