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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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We the People: Why Patient Experience Must Be the Foundation of Healthcare Policy

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Thursday, July 6, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Two things have become central to all I see, say and share in engaging in discussions on the patient experience globally: one, that ALL voices matter, and two, that in healthcare we are human beings caring for human beings. These ideas while simple in concept also provide for all that is complex in healthcare. They have implications in both the delivery of care and in the design of the policies and systems that support the delivery of care.

As we think about the delivery of care, the provision of care at a personal level, the idea of experience – of quality, safe and service focused encounters grounded in dignity and respect and driven by communication, partnership and knowledge – is a natural fit. As citizens of our planet, as people who choose our points of focus from ideals, beliefs and/or faith, we have been taught and encouraged to treat others as we hope to be treated and to act with compassion as we engage in caring for others.

Yet, as we get to the level of policy and the systems that both support and yes, constrain, our capacity to create environments of caring, we have a much greater opportunity. In instilling the ideas of all voices, not only do we add perspective, but we by default introduce potentially perpendicular ideas. As we author policy and adapt structures that circumscribe the humanity at the heart of healthcare, we create both clearer pathways and opportunities for obstacles. It is in the midst of this noise that we must find and mold the material needed to positively frame the human experience in healthcare.

It is pertinent to explore this idea during a week where we saw both Canada Day in Canada and Independence Day in the United States. As we explore the roots of these two great democracies, or of any democratic society around the world, there may be no more important concept than the first three words found in the United States Constitution – We the People. Democracies by their very nature favor equal rights, freedom of speech and support the ability to raise conflicting perspectives. Therefore democracy, the idea of citizenship, of partnership, of equality, underlines the idea at the core of patient experience that all voices matter. Yet often, for people of all political beliefs and perspectives, for those who engage in healthcare from the aging, to those with chronic disease, family caregivers, to concerned parents and even for those who have yet to have a serious medical encounter, it feels as if the “system” and the policies that dictate its actions have forgotten them.

This idea that We the People have a voice that matters in healthcare is more relevant now than in any other time, not just in this period of policy change in the United States, but in how people view healthcare globally. This understanding of the criticality of the moment spurred a call to action by a group of committed leaders who have been listening to patients and peers, leaders and policy makers and recognized a great opportunity existed. If efforts were going to be more than just claiming to be “patient centric” and instead actually worked to engage the voices that are impacted by policy itself, then voices had to be raised, issues identified and actions taken.

This belief led to the initial idea of what has emerged as the Patient Experience Policy Forum (PXPF). The PXPF originated in 2016 through a series of conversations among a group of patient experience leaders and patient and family advocates who recognized the growing imperative to influence and help shape policy at the national and state levels on issues that directly affect the patient and family experience. The group and a growing number of individuals who have fostered its initial growth believed it was time to move the conversation on experience excellence beyond practice to address the policies and systems that were impediments to and encourage and support those that were supportive of the very principles all strive for in delivering care.

PXPF has quickly moved from concept to reality in establishing itself as a broad-based coalition of organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy and action to give a greater voice in healthcare policy to those working to improve the patient and family experience. It just announced last week that it will hold its inaugural meeting this September 19, 2017 in Washington, DC. PXPF will be working to advocate for policies and systems that will:

  • Advance Patient and Family Partnership
  • Elevate the Value Case
  • Improve Patient-Centered Measurement and Reporting
  • Strengthen Systems for Patient Involvement
  • Expand Professional Education and Support
  • Reduce Disparities

I invite you to explore the inaugural event of PXPF, share this opportunity with your peers and consider ways in which you can engage either in person or in an ongoing nature.

There is a reality in healthcare that we cannot overlook. That for as much as the conversation today, especially in the United States, is about the issues and challenges of insurance companies and/or constraints placed on provider organizations, those impacted by policy, especially those experiencing healthcare itself must not be left from this conversation. There are many organizations today doing great work advocating for specific diseases or segments of the population, but what is deemed missing is the idea that at the heart of all we do in healthcare, we must return to the human experience. If we believe fundamentally that caring for our fellow citizens, and in particular their health, matters, if we believe that ‘We the People’ matters, then we cannot waver in ensuring that patient experience must be the foundation of healthcare policy. I hope you will join us in this endeavor.

Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D., CPXP
President
The Beryl Institute

Tags:  equity  experience era  healthcare  healthcare policy  improving patient experience  Patient Experience  patient experience policy forum  PXPF 

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Reaffirming the Core Values of Patient Experience

Posted By Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D., Friday, February 3, 2017
Updated: Friday, February 3, 2017

The idea that healthcare is, at its core, about human beings caring for human beings is not a new or surprising notion, but the foundations of this concept seem more relevant today for all the challenges we in healthcare, and now in many ways those beyond, are working to overcome. As we look to where the experience movement has come from to where it is rapidly moving, we find it is grounded in the fundamentals of all that is right and good at the core of our humanity. The patient experience in healthcare is ultimately the human experience. It is encountered in every healthcare interaction and impacts and is affected by not just those receiving care, but by all engaged in ensuring it is delivered with the utmost in quality, safety and service.

I have watched the recent events taking place both in the United States and around the world with both great curiosity and some concern. The first words used to define patient experience – the sum of all interactions – may be no more important now as we work to not only be cognizant of the interactions we each have, but also to reinforce the power that exists in ensuring positive interactions are at the core of all we do. These interactions, as the definition continues, are shaped by the very culture we create and espouse in the organizations and systems we build and sustain. And this culture must be grounded in the values we hold true in guiding our decisions and framing our actions.

It seemed now was an appropriate and important time to reinforce and reaffirm the core values we introduced in late 2015 that have been central to our work at The Beryl Institute. We have also continued to find these values implicitly at work in the many organizations striving to achieve experience excellence overall. With all that is pushing and pulling at us in recent days, as people ponder the future of healthcare policy and practice and as we consider the broader implications on human connectivity, it seemed time to reiterate both our commitment to these values, as well as call on all committed to this work, and to the greater human experience, to reflect on what these ideas truly mean. I list our values below with my thoughts on their importance today:

  • ACCESSIBILITY. I have always believed in a focus on experience as in life we have a great opportunity with a mindset of abundance.  Accessibility is about fairness and equity, about providing opportunity and the ability to connect to information and people, and to do so in a way that removes barriers to and actively encourages engagement and a free exchange of ideas.
  • AGILITY. In a world that is no longer measured by years or even months, but rather pushed on one side by rapid increases in technology and on the other by ceaseless waves of information, people and the organizations they comprise must be anything but static in thought, process or action. It is no longer about readiness to change, but the ability to be changing always, while ensuring consistency to your commitments and desired outcomes.
  • INNOVATION. The same pressures that call for our agility require we no longer look backward for how things can, have or should be done. In listening, exploring, doing and being willing to fail we push the very boundaries that could otherwise restrain our ability to move with (and if intentional in our efforts, lead) the very changes we need.
  • INCLUSIVITY. This idea at the heart of experience may be no more critical than today. From all voices matter in patient experience to underlining all voices matter, perspectives have value, diversity adds flavor and difference catalyzes opportunities for even greater outcomes. We cannot and must not let fear or worse, lack of understanding, cause us to shrink from one another when it is the very interactions we create, engage in and encourage that will remain fundamental to the human experience. On this we must remain steadfast.
  • COLLABORATION. At the roots of the Institute itself was the belief that if we are willing to share our ideas openly, without hesitation, we would reap greater returns than we could working alone in the dark. This idea of connection has been essential to our own growth and exemplifies a great opportunity we still have overall. If we all believe we are here for an ultimate goal, be it experience excellence, or something greater, it calls on us to find the bridges that lead us to connection and opportunity, not the chasms that seed distinctions, misunderstanding and missed possibility.

We are at an exciting time in the experience movement. I believe we are entering an experience era that reinforces all that is good about what each and every one of you strive to do each day in working to personally heal and/or provide healing for others. In each of our personal journeys is a great opportunity to travel this path with not only an understanding of ourselves, but perhaps more so with an unwavering commitment to others. In reaffirming the values we hold true to patient experience, we are making a statement about all we believe is right and good as human beings caring for human beings around the world. That must remain our cause.

Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D., CPXP
President
The Beryl Institute

Tags:  collaboration  commitment  community of practice  connection  culture  experience era  global  healthcare policy  policy  values 

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The State of Patient Experience: A Global Inquiry for Local Action

Posted By Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D., Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Earlier this week in a webinar hosted by the Institute, I shared thoughts on why patient experience matters now more than ever. At a time when policy uncertainty hangs in the air, there must not be any uncertainty about the importance of a commitment to experience and the actions required to ensure it remains at the heart of what we do in healthcare. We have a collective responsibility to ensure the strategies, practices and processes necessary to drive experience excellence continue with unwavering commitment. We too must underline and be willing to speak to the impact a focus on experience can and does provide.

This focus is what is guiding the strategic intent of The Beryl Institute as we look to ensure the human experience is the heart of healthcare around the globe and is grounded in the very efforts we not only look to take on ourselves, but also encourage others to explore. We are at a critical time where we must gather evidence, reinforce value, provide grounded research and share efforts in ways that help people act with confidence and support leaders in making strong and committed choices.

This is not a time for passivity; in simply accepting consumerism has arrived or that a focus on value has become central to our efforts. Rather those committed to experience in healthcare must be doing more; not just to achieve individual and organizational outcomes, but to support an expanding dialogue that ensures all corners of healthcare commit to and reflect in their actions the principles central to an industry which at its core is about human beings caring for human beings.

With that call to action, I asked four questions of those listening. These questions were more than a cause for reflection. Rather I see them as an opportunity to plot a course forward for each of us engaging in the experience movement. I provide them here to both encourage your own consideration, but also to invite your comments. I hope you will share what you plan to do.

  • How will you reinforce the importance of experience in your work and/or as a consumer of care?
  • What top issues are most critical to you in this effort and how will you elevate them as a focus for your work?
  • How will you support others in standing as champions for experience excellence?
  • How will we expand the experience conversation to change healthcare for the better?

In this, the experience era, a fundamental commitment must be a readiness to share wildly and steal willingly. This means we must not only try new things, and whether succeed or fail share our lessons learned, but we must also search out other’s ideas and see how they fit, challenge or complement our own. This free flow of evidence, of practice, and of thinking is what will strengthen the capacity of all focused on experience across the healthcare continuum. It is what grounds our ability to achieve all we aspire to in providing the best outcomes possible. It is also this sense of sharing that underlines our biggest research endeavor at the Institute – our State of Patient Experience Study.

It is time once again for you to share your voice and encourage others to do the same in our 4th biennial study. I invite and ask each of you to not only participate in this year’s exploration, but also share this opportunity with your colleagues and peers. We look to gather input from organizations across the continuum of care, perspective from consumers of healthcare and insights from around the world to best understand both the ‘whats’ and ‘whys’ that are driving experience efforts today. This commitment to taking action and sharing your voice is critical to this endeavor and I do hope you will participate. You can get started by clicking this link: http://bit.ly/StateofPX2017. We will share the initial findings of this year’s study at the opening of Patient Experience Conference 2017.

In concluding our 2015 study I wrote, “In our patient experience movement and in the data that frame its efforts, we are not just seeing incremental movement, but fundamental shifts in behavior, practice and perspective. We are experiencing a shift in the very habits of the people and organizations in healthcare. We are seeing an alignment around the idea that patient experience matters.” It is the very efforts that every one of you are taking on, helping lead or encouraging others to tackle that is inspiring this possibility. That in recognizing experience matters, now more than ever our global understanding can drive local action. In doing so we are staying true to our commitment in providing the best experience possible for all those in or affected by healthcare around our world. Thank you in advance for your input and contribution.

Again, you can begin the survey here: http://bit.ly/StateofPX2017

 

Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D., CPXP
President
The Beryl Institute

Tags:  benchmarking  commitment  global  healthcare policy  human experience  inquiry  matters  movement  research  state of patient experience 

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Taking a Stand on Patient Experience Policy

Posted By Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D., Thursday, November 3, 2016

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

These words by Margaret Meade may both best exemplify the efforts of our growing patient experience movement and in some ways now mischaracterize what is truly happening. What has evolved in the last decade, grounded in a rich history of patient’s rights and patient advocacy and catalyzed by the perfect storm of policy, technology, access to information and shifting expectations, is both a new sense of power and increased accountability to change the very conversation of healthcare itself. No longer are people in and engaging with healthcare systems globally sitting idly by as passengers, but rather with each passing day more and more are raising their voices on their own needs, expectations and perspectives. And while this may challenge many long standing traditions of HOW, specifically, the art of medicine was practiced, in fact, this emerging perspective may fundamentally underline the WHY of healthcare found at its very beginnings.

This premise, that we are reigniting our focus in healthcare on human beings caring for human beings, is at the heart of the growing patient experience movement. We are no longer just a small group, but an expanding community of committed people, both those experiencing care and those providing it. Yet in this effort there remains the need for sparks of progress and the dynamic tension that continues to push us past complacency to the new edges of this movement.

That very thing happened in the last year when a group of patient experience leaders associated with the Institute raised the critical issue of ensuring their voices and the voices of those they cared for were more actively engaged in shaping the very policy under which they were expected to act. From that inspiring discussion evolved an initial gathering held just last week to begin and expand a dialogue on what a stand on engaging in patient experience policy can and should look like. This meeting on creating a framework for patient experience policy brought together a range of rich and diverse perspectives, including patient and family voices, healthcare and patient experience leadership, organizations and institutes who have committed years to expanding this dialogue in healthcare for patients and families, caregivers and physicians and the policy framers themselves.

The purpose of this gathering was to act as a jumping off point for an expanding and inclusive conversation on the importance of engaging all voices in policy related to patient experience. The meeting served as a working session for shared discovery and creation and reinforced the importance of active engagement in driving policy decisions in our healthcare system today. As a result of the group’s work, critical priorities were identified with a shared recognition that this was just the first step in how these topics should be addressed. The priorities and some initial thinking around each include:

  • Value – What is the value of a true commitment to patient experience?
  • Patient/Family Voice – How do we give clear and strong opportunities for the voices of the healthcare consumer to be heard?
  • Measurement – How do we ensure we are measuring what matters in ways that are both of value and minimal burden?
  • Alignment – In what ways can we ensure coordination across the continuum of care so efforts reflect the totality of experience, not just distinct segments of it?
  • Transparency – How can we expand the opportunity beyond just posting scores and cost to access to information and understanding of healthcare itself?
  • Professional Education/Workforce Development – In what ways must we rethink training healthcare professionals to ensure a shared understanding of experience and a focused commitment to action?
  • Healthcare Teams/Employees – How do we reinforce our commitment to those who have chosen to care for others, reinforce resilience and tackle compassion fatigue and burnout?

From this effort and alignment around these priorities, emerged a strong sense of both connection and purpose among the participants and their respective organizations. There was also an acknowledgement that this emerging coalition for patient experience policy had a great deal of work ahead. Perhaps the most important recognition of the gathering was that we are just at the beginning of this effort, and for all the voices that could fit in this small room, there are many more to still be engaged across the spectrum of healthcare.

This is where everyone who inspired this initial step, everyone who participated in this first gathering and all who are yet to engage in this effort now stand. At the edge of a new and vital frontier of bringing voice to ensuring healthcare remains true to its purpose. In a landscape of political churn and often competing organizational priorities by many of the interests who often capitalize on the healthcare system, this group and each and every one of you engaged in the patient experience movement have to put a stake in the ground that our voices and these issues are vital to where healthcare moves.

This is not to say there are not current efforts underway to address some of these very priorities today, but more so we believe with collective and clear voice the opportunities for impacting healthcare for all it encompasses is even greater. And with great thanks to the catalysts of this conversation, the participants in this gathering and to all of you who will move this effort forward, that is the opportunity before us. I can think of no greater or important journey we can be on together than that of ensuring the best we can as human beings caring for human beings.

If you are interested in actively participating in or staying up to date on the patient experience policy effort, you can provide your contact information via this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PX_POLICY.

 

Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D.
President
The Beryl Institute

Tags:  healthcare policy  leadership  professional education  stand  state of patient experience  value 

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