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Don’t Underestimate the Importance of the Small Things

Posted By Deanna Frings, MS Ed, CPXP, Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Recently I traveled by motorcycle through my home state of Wisconsin enjoying the colors of fall. In planning this trip my husband and I were very intentional in choosing our route, selecting our clothes and determining the day we left.  We knew that paying close attention to these things was very important if we wanted to see the best color possible on the most scenic roads staying warm, dry and safe.

I would categorize these items as having a great impact on the overall quality and safety of our experience.  Many might say, they are the big important things.  In healthcare, there are many big important things in providing high quality, safe care.  And in my experience, we are typically very good at paying attention to these big, important things.

But what was affirmed for me during this trip is that doing things with a clear purpose, being present and intentional can have an equally huge impact on the overall experience even in the most insignificant interactions.  In fact, it is the small things that can often have the greatest positive impact.

When riding on the back of a motor cycle there isn’t much for me to do except to enjoy the scenery. My mind wondered a bit and I started thinking of the importance of being intentional.  Intentional in my work, intentional in my personal life and intentional in my relationships and all that I do.  It’s easy to get lazy and forget the importance and the impact intention can have on oneself and on others. It really does come down to presence, awareness and the power of choice.

At The Beryl Institute, we understand the power of choice and recognize that in every interaction, we have a choice to make. So, for the remainder of the trip it was my goal to create positive moments by being very intentional in the interactions I had. The criteria I used to measure my success included receiving a comment of appreciation such as a “Thank you”, noting a smile as a result of the interaction and/or walking away with an overall positive and warm feeling.

We came upon road construction several times throughout the week. On many of these occasions, the road merged into a single lane which required members of the construction crew to flag vehicles through from each direction ensuring our safety. At more than one of these locations, we were the first vehicle stopped by a person holding a stop sign waiting patiently for our turn to pass through.

I have always wondered what it must be like to be one of these individuals standing in the elements for several hours a day holding a ten foot stop sign. There have been a few occasions when I would nod slightly but on this occasion, I wanted to acknowledge the person and to let them know how much I appreciated the job they did to ensure our safety. On a motorcycle, it was very easy to have this conversation. I could see a smile come across the gentleman’s face and he nodded. As we passed through, he waved and said, “Have a great and safe ride.” This small but purposeful gesture, created a moment that enhanced this part of our journey.

Test number two came when we stopped for lunch. On a motorcycle trip of this length, stopping for lunch is a highlight of the day. Its time off the bike and that is always welcomed. It’s fun to stop at simple cafes and dinners and this particular stop was extremely enjoyable.  Not so much because of the food but rather our waitress who was extremely personable and good at what she did. I have always enjoyed watching people do what they do every day especially when you can tell they enjoy their work. 

She had purpose, presence and did everything with intention. It was fun watching her work the room. She acknowledged us the minute we sat down and indicated she would be with us in a just a moment. As promised, she came over immediately after delivering hot food to another table, introduced herself and seeing the clothing we were wearing and our helmets asked, “are you staying warm out there today?” She was helpful with the menu, anticipated all of our needs and provided us with a lovely 45-minute break off the bike.

As she was cleaning the dirty dishes from the table and leaving us the check, I asked her how long she had worked here and told her how much I enjoyed watching her as it appears she really enjoys her work. She was beaming at this acknowledgment and went on to share that it brings great joy to her when she can offer great service to her customers and thanked us for coming in today.

The final experiment came during a service recovery opportunity after being on the bike for a long 6-hour day. Upon entering the parking lot of our hotel, we were required to take a parking ticket from an automated machine that would subsequently open the gate. As we started moving through the gate, it immediately lowered itself onto the motorcycle prior to us passing completely through. It took all my husband’s strength to stop the gate from lowering all the way onto the bike and for those brief 20 seconds until I hit the button for another ticket, it was a bit terrifying. Not the most comforting way to end the day. 

We were greeted by a very nice young man at the registration desk. He noticed we were a bit distressed and inquired how he could help. After hearing our explanation about the gate prematurely closing, he did all the right things you would hope an employee would do at a time when service recovery is warranted.  He acknowledged our concern, apologized it happened and immediately went to work to make amends. As he completed the registration process, he once again apologized for this situation. We thanked him for his help.

Later in the evening when we came down to dinner, I wanted to once again acknowledge how much what he did meant to us. I proceeded to the desk to explain to him what I did at The Beryl Institute and how much we talk about the importance of service recovery.  The term was new to him but he really appreciated that I took the time to share this information and to thank him once again.  As I walked away, I turned back and he was fast at work welcoming another couple to the hotel with a great smile on his face.

Sometimes we never know the impact a small gesture might have.

Four years ago, I met a gentleman by the name of Andreas. At that time, he was a student at DePaul University. Jason Wolf was participating in a patient experience panel discussion for the class. Following the class, we joined the students for a light meal and further networking. Andreas was sharing how much he was learning about patient experience and his desire to ultimately find a job in the field but was concerned about his lack of work experience. During our conversation, I was very impressed with this young man. He had a clear vision, defined purpose and he was building an intentional plan to achieve his goal. And from where I was sitting, he had a true passion about patient experience. It was this that I wanted to reflect back to him. I simply put my hand on his shoulder and said, “Andreas, you are the Patient Experience;” I took one of our IMPX pins and secured it to his jacket.  He simply smiled and said, “Thank you”. 

Four years later, Andreas along with his colleagues presented at the Patient Experience Conference. Andreas came up to me during the conference and recounted that evening four years earlier and shared with me how much it meant to him. It gave him continued confidence to work toward his goal of working in the field of experience. I also noticed he was wearing his IMPX pin.

It was hard to hold back my tears. To think of the impact that small gesture had and the vivid memory it still holds was humbling. But you see, we all know because of our own experiences the positive and lasting impact these small gestures can have. Leading with purpose, being present and doing things with intention can positively impact both the big and small things in our everyday interactions.

In conclusion, I encourage you to think about these simple examples and the lasting impact they had on these individuals as well as the positive impact they had on me. There is an important conversation going on in the patient experience community about employee engagement. At the heart of our humanness, it is being in relationship with each other that keeps us engaged in caring for those we serve. And it’s all big and important stuff.

 

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

Tags:  caring  employee engagement  impact  interactions  journey  patient experience community  power of choice 

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Pokémon Go…or No?

Posted By Michelle Garrison, CPXP, Thursday, September 8, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, September 6, 2016

As a patient experience community our members and guests are consistently seeking ways to engage and support the patients and families they serve, and the use of technology including personal health tracking apps, wearable devices and gaming through mobile devices can play an important role in contributing to a positive hospital experience by providing an opportunity to promote not only exercise but also social interaction.

By now, many of you have heard about Pokémon Go and may even be playing it yourselves. For those of you who might not know, Pokémon Go is an app where players can explore their surroundings and search for Pokémon creatures. There are also “Pokestops,” where you can collect items that you use in the game and gyms, where you battle for control against other players. Not sure if your hospital has Pokémon? If you have an interesting or unique art piece somewhere in your hospital, chances are it’s a “hot spot.”

Pokémon Go can provide an opportunity to positively affect the patient experience in a variety of ways. Some hospitals are using the app as a way to encourage their patients to get out of bed and be more mobile. Others have reported that patients have attributed weight loss to their use of the game. In order to catch Pokémon, you have to find them and that means going to different places and walking around. The game actively encourages walking by rewarding you when you hit milestones.

When you see patients or family members interested or actively involved, it is an another opportunity to make a connection with them. Just imagine how this could impact someone and possibly take their mind off of their next procedure even for a brief moment as well as foster a connection for the next time you walk in the room. One patient experience leader shared with me a recent experience she had.

What an AMAZING opportunity for patients, siblings and families to experience during a hospital stay or long clinic day!  Something truly special that they can readily access while others cannot. I personally spoke with a father who was playing with his son. I asked whether they were playing Pokémon Go.  They responded yes, and then, with great excitement, shared with me that our hospital was a “hot spot.”  Dad paused and said, “My daughter is upstairs (in a hospital room).  She cannot leave the room yet, but she’s been able to use her phone and play the game from her bed.”  He said they were thankful that she and her siblings could all enjoy the game.

There are downsides though, with the game having unexpected impact on hospitals’ daily operation. Hospitals are reporting more visitors, in particular unsupervised teens coming in to play the game. As well as there are concerns around increased traffic in areas of hospitals, including, front entrances, Emergency Departments and even near Critical Care Units. This leads to privacy and security issues. In a hospital, this can raise issues of patient confidentiality with gamers entering areas of hospitals where they might inadvertently have access to sensitive patient information. There are also safety concerns. Besides players wandering into restricted areas where they themselves could be injured, there is also an increased risk of infection due to germ exposure.

Some hospitals are moving forward and requesting that their facilities be removed from the game. Many are putting signs up asking people to be respectful of patients’ privacy and reminding them that hospitals are a place where people come to heal and not a gaming area. Others have alerted staff and asked them to report to security anyone they see playing.

While they are negatives that must be addressed and managed, there are benefits. As long as it is managed in a way that is safe for patients, staff and the community, there are opportunities to use the game in a way to impact the patient experience in a positive and meaningful way. In healthcare, we strive to provide opportunities to provide the best experience for our patients and family members. Technology and gaming apps can help with this, providing a way to interact with patients, motivate them and get them active. As your patients are trying to “catch ‘em all,” it could also make the hospital a little less scary place for them to be.

As we have seen, new technologies are consistently playing an important role in improving interactions and engagement with patients and family members. We would love to more about how not only this game but other technologies have impacted you and your organization in improving the experience for your patients, family members, staff and the overall community. What new technologies have helped you engage with patients and family members and how? What benefits and challenges have you seen from implementing new technologies?

Michelle Garrison
Director, Member Experience
The Beryl Institute

Tags:  interactions  patient engagement  patient experience  Pokemon Go  technology 

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How Will You Invest in Patient Experience in 2016?

Posted By Stacy Palmer, Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, December 1, 2015

We recently celebrated our first five years as a community of practice and looked back, somewhat in awe, at the incredible growth of this organization over such a short time. The Beryl Institute is now a global community of almost 40,000 individuals passionate about improving the healthcare experience for patients, families and caregivers.

The momentum continues, as does the realization that organizations are making significant investments in time, energy and dollars to ensure they are prepared to deliver the best possible patient experience. We see these investments in many forms from hiring teams to training leaders and staff to building and supporting cultures of excellence.

As we shared in the 2015 State of Patient Experience Benchmarking study, senior patient experience leadership and staff investment is growing with 42% of respondents having a Chief Experience Officer (or comparable position) compared to only 22% two years ago.  Along with that, the size of patient experience teams is growing; 33% of organizations reported having five or more staff members supporting patient experience efforts. 

The Beryl Institute community reflects this trend as well. This year over 200 organizations will invest in institutional membership – meaning they provide unlimited access to the Institute’s white papers, webinars, topic calls, learning bites, etc. to everyone within their facility. They are making a statement that people in ALL roles impact the patient experience and should have access to research and collaboration that will assist their efforts.

We have also seen tremendous interest in learning and professional development programs intended to train patient experience leaders and other staff. We recently increased our virtual classroom offerings in the Patient Experience Body of Knowledge courses to support growing participation in the community-developed program that provides Certificates in Patient Experience Leadership and Patient Advocacy.

Patient Experience Conference had its largest attendance to date this year and we were honored to partner with member organizations to host sold out Regional Roundtable events in San Francisco, Charlotte and Minneapolis. Our community is eager to gain (and share) knowledge and to invest in their personal career growth. In fact, today our sister organization, Patient Experience Institute, will offer the first testing opportunity for those hoping to earn their CPXP, the professional certification for Patient Experience Leaders.

While we’re excited to celebrate the five-year milestone, we acknowledge how much work is still to be done. We imagine (and hope to help inspire) a world where all healthcare organizations appreciate the power and impact of patient experience efforts and make without hesitation the investments necessary to be the best they can be for patients and families.

Earlier this year we released Our Stand, a list of guiding principles we’ve identified in our five years of leading this work that can have significant impact on patient experience success. I share them again as a reminder as you evaluate your own efforts and consider what investment opportunities make sense to support your specific needs.

We believe organizations and systems committed to providing the best in experience WILL:

  • Identify and support accountable leadership with committed time and focused intent to shape and guide experience strategy
  • Establish and reinforce a strong, vibrant and positive organizational culture and all it comprises
  • Develop a formal definition for what experience is to their organization
  • Implement a defined process for continuous patient and family input and engagement
  • Engage all voices in driving comprehensive, systemic and lasting solutions
  • Look beyond clinical experience of care to all interactions and touch points
  • Focus on alignment across all segments of the continuum and the spaces in between
  • Encompass both a focus on healing and a commitment to well-being

As you prepare for the coming year I challenge you to reflect on your organization’s commitment to experience improvement. Where are you exceling and where are your opportunities to do even more for your patients, families, caregivers and staff? Our patient experience community is here to support your journey and I encourage you to take full advantage of the incredible resources and knowledge available. 

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a successful New Year!

 

Stacy Palmer
Vice President, Strategy and Member Experience
The Beryl Institute

Tags:  body of knowledge  certification  collaboration  community of practice  Continuum of Care  culture  employee engagement  Field of Patient Experience  global healthcare  healthcare  improving patient experience  Interaction  Interactions  Leadership  Nurse Leadership  patient  patient engagement  Patient Experience  Patient Experience Conference  Regional Roundtable  service excellence 

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Expanding the dialogue on experience excellence to long term care

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Updated: Monday, September 1, 2014

When we first developed the definition for patient experience with a group of contributing healthcare leaders, four themes emerged as central to our discussion and ultimately to the definition itself – the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care. These themes shaped the fundamentals for action in providing the best in experience and I still see them as central and imperative across healthcare settings today.

Experience efforts are shaped through the interactions of all individuals involved and grounded in the organization’s culture through which they are delivered. It is the actions of all participants in the care experience – caregivers, support teams, patients and family members alike – that ultimately influence the perceptions of experience and create the lasting impact (and I suggest ripple effect) that each experience has. Experience is a partnership with patients, residents and families, not a doing to, and these words reinforce this critical point.

It is the last element of the definition that is also perhaps the most easily accepted: across the continuum of care. As the patient experience movement has flourished, there has been growing recognition that experience stretches well beyond the four walls of any clinical encounter or the physical structures of the acute care setting. In fact, the ideas of experience, in variations of language including patient, resident or person-centeredness, have permeated the wide array of care experiences one can have in healthcare today. This idea may be no better reinforced than the focus on the experience of individuals in long-term care.

The effort to provide a strong and positive experience for individuals in long-term care is not a new concept. This idea has been addressed in the dialogues of great institutions such as the former Picker Institute and now via Planetree and through organizations such as the Pioneer Network, Leading Age and the American Health Care Association (AHCA). Partly driven by policy, such as we have seen sweep the US healthcare system in other segments of the continuum with the CAHPS efforts, and framed by what we know to be the right thing to do, long-term care has long been focused on the elements of resident quality, safety and service and the built environment to ensure the best for those in their care.

There is a growing understanding in all environments, that aside from the right thing to do for those in our care, or even a must do, there is also increasing policy focus and requirements that not only measure action, but also tie financial implications to them. Yes, we must acknowledge the financial implications of this effort as well, including the reality that individuals in the healthcare system at all points on the continuum are now consumers – people carefully select doctors, they make decisions on which hospitals to seek care and they look long and hard at the options in selecting a location for a parent or loved one to reside for long-term care needs.

If we accept choice is a factor now in healthcare, then experience matters. In focusing on the continuum of care, it matters to the patients, residents, people in our care, it matters to their families and it matters to all who deliver care as well. It is for this reason we continue to evolve our work at The Beryl institute to expand the experience conversation to all points on the continuum of care and to acknowledge the opportunities at the moments of care transition as well.

We have worked to engage broader voices in the physician practice setting by exploring how experience is being addressed by physician clinics and groups and our events are expanding to include greater dialogue and content on the important practices taking place in the ambulatory and outpatient settings. With equal focus (and the support of energized and committed members of our community), we are embarking in expanding our efforts to address experience in the long-term care setting as well. In the coming months, through Patient Experience Conference 2015 and beyond, we will work to collaborate with leading thinkers and organizations to reinforce and expand the critical conversation of experience in the long-term care environment. This will include papers, webinars, conference sessions and expanding research into this area of the continuum.

We hope through these efforts and partnerships we can support the critical dialogue of experience at all points on the care continuum. We will strive to continue our growth as a community encouraging and supporting the dialogue among individuals impacting each touch point in the care experience. If we maintain that experience as defined truly crosses the continuum of care, not only is this a critical effort to take on, it is a must do in ensuring that the experience conversation – the critical confluence of quality, safety and service and the fundamental considerations of people, process and place – engages all and includes all voices. We are excited by this next stage of the experience movement and invite and encourage your thoughts, ideas and participation.

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

Tags:  choice  community of practice  Continuum of Care  culture  defining patient experience  Field of Patient Experience  HCAHPS  healthcare  improving patient experience  Interaction  Interactions  long term care  patient  Patient Experience  Patient Experience Conference  service excellence  voice 

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The Patient Experience Deserves More Than 63%

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I have yet to meet anyone in healthcare who suggests patient experience is not important. In fact, I often hear it said to be "one of our top priorities”, "a central pillar in our strategy” or "a critical initiative for our organization”. I do not question the sincerity of these declarations or the intent they suggest. I also recognize in the highly dynamic world of healthcare today we are in a constant struggle to balance our priorities. With that, I offer these thoughts to shift our thinking in how we approach experience overall.

To frame what I mean about patient experience I return to the definitiongenerated by the members of The Beryl Institute community – the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care. I also want to challenge the perspective of some in equating patient experience only to service and question our inside-out focus in healthcare as we often operationally differentiate quality, safety and service. While we may operate these efforts in distinct and at times competing manners, I do not believe patients distinguish between these areas. Yes, we must focus on quality, safety and service and align the appropriate resources to each, but we must address these efforts from the eyes of our consumer and the perspective that they together create but one experience.

As I have continued to hear patient experience identified as a strategic priority, it has caused me to ask, does this mean based on needs there are then specific times when we actually focus on it (and therefore times we don't). That is, do we truly focus on every one of our priorities at all times? Continuing this thought, if patient experience is seen as an initiative, it has all but been declared a limited effort, for every initiative I have experienced in healthcare and elsewhere has a beginning, middle and therefore an end. Do we truly think the patient experience is an idea where the effort eventually concludes?

These ideas around alignment, priority and initiative were supported in the findings of the 2013 Benchmarking Study, The State of Patient Experience in American Hospitals. The research revealed something one could potentially overlook in all that was uncovered. In the U.S. Hospital System the individual with primary responsibility for patient experience spends 63% of their time on these efforts. In contrast, I do not know of a CFO that spends 63% of his time on finances. The data itself reinforces the opportunity we may very well be missing. Have we made patient experience a 63% priority? If we take that to the extreme, does that mean it is only something we consider for 63 out of every 100 patients we see? I do not believe any organization or leader has done this intentionally, but it does cause us to hopefully stop and think about how we lead and operate our organizations and systems.

I know those in healthcare are more committed than what the number reveals. We are an industry of caring and compassionate people who give all they can in every moment. But the data opens our eyes to the opportunities we have. Perhaps what we have lost in our efforts to address patient experience is our realization that experience is all we are about in healthcare. I know that if any one of us were laying on an exam table, recovering in a bed, or sitting holding the hand of a family member that we would not expect anything less than 100%. In fact I believe we would say we want the best in quality, safety and service – the best experience – in every encounter. I believe we all do want the best in patient experience for all those in our care. I hope we too agree the patient experience deserves more than 63%. So how can we start to do things differently today? I look forward to your thoughts.

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

Related Body of Knowledge courses: Metrics and Measurement.

Tags:  bottom line  change  choice  Continuum of Care  culture  defining patient experience  expectations  healthcare  improving patient experience  Interactions  partnership  Patient Experience  priorities  quality  safety  service  service excellence  strategy 

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How Will You Inspire the Patient Experience Movement? Four Considerations for 2014

Posted By Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D., Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I am inspired. The New Year has arrived with great energy at The Beryl Institute. We start 2014 as a global community of practice of over 20,000 professionals, focused without hesitation on ensuring the best in experience for patients, families and one another in healthcare.

I am inspired by the continued commitments expressed for this work: by The Beryl Institute’s Patient Experience Scholars who met recently to share their research and reinforce their willingness to encourage and support others; by the members of the Global Patient & Family Advisory Council who want to influence how patients and family members are heard and engaged in making a profound difference in healthcare; by the many contributing to the development of the Patient Experience Body of Knowledge courses soon to be available to the community; and by many more.

I am inspired by how in the first two weeks of a new year, such commitment and intent can emerge, built on all that has come before and focused with purpose on the great opportunities ahead. As I reflect on this idea, a question emerged and perhaps a challenge for each of us to consider:

How will you inspire the patient experience movement in the year ahead?

I pose this question with the hope that actions and considerations from the smallest moments of unparalleled kindness to the largest strategic triumphs all find room to take root and grow. Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes, but in this diversity it has strong commonalities – it causes us to feel a sense of something special and powerful. It provides a boundless energy to influence, lead, change and make a difference. This is an exciting prospect in seeing that each of us can choose to have an impact. And while no two actions will be exactly alike, I do want to offer a few thoughts on how you can continue to frame your patient experience efforts to inspire yourself and others.

As we return to the definition of patient experience, I continue to experience its relevance time-and-time again in the application of these words to central actions associated with excellence. In reviewing its words – the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions, across the continuum of care – I again see clear directions on moving your own experience efforts forward. They include:

1. Reinforce strategic focus. Patient experience has proven itself to be a relevant part of the healthcare conversation. It has surpassed the challenges of being dubbed a fad; it too has shown it has stronger legs than just serving as a policy framework. Experience is a central strategic pillar to organizational performance and success. Patient Experience in its broadest sense should be a clear and transparent component of every healthcare organization’s strategy.

2. Clarify and map your critical interactions. Experience doesn’t happen on billboards or in espoused actions, it happens at the most personal moments, at those points of engagement between one individual and another. The ultimate tool in patient experience improvement is your self, your heart, your hands and arms, your minds, your compassion and your common sense. We have a huge opportunity to map the interactions that occur on the patient path to ensure we consider the most effective way to respond at every touch point.

3. Model desired behaviors. Simply put, if interactions drive experience, then the behaviors that comprise them are the conduits that direct these interactions in one way or another. Organizational culture is shaped by behaviors, they represent the people, presence and purpose of an organization overall and no slogan, policy or program will trump the power of individual behavior. We must model, observe, coach and improve constantly to impact experience outcomes.

4. Expand your listening. As we ended 2013 exploring the Voices of Measurement, we learned that the power of data is only as valid as what we choose to do with it. Collection or reporting data for the sake of data misses the opportunity for learning and relevant action. To capitalize on the value of the voices that surround us in healthcare we must expand our listening. Experience is measured first in the direct voices of healthcare consumers, who remain our most significant mirror into our own efforts, but it is also found in the voices of our peers and colleagues. We are only capable of achieving our strategy through our people. They are much more than pawns to direct, but rather living resources accountable for ensuring excellence.

Perhaps these ideas will help spark your own thoughts on how you will choose to inspire the patient experience movement. Regardless of which direction you go, I hope you recognize the power that exists in your own personal choice and the ability to impact the experience of the person that is coming next. The year ahead can and should be about a great many things both personally and professionally. My hope is that you find you can and will be an inspiration in your efforts. This cause is too great for your efforts to be anything less. Now the question remains, what will you do? I look forward to your updates with great anticipation.

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

Tags:  accountability  Advocacy  body of knowledge  choice  community of practice  consumer advocacy  Continuum of Care  culture  defining patient experience  employee engagement  Field of Patient Experience  global defining patient experience  global healthcare  HCAHPS  healthcare  improving patient experience  Interaction  Interactions  patient  patient engagement  Patient Experience  service excellence  thought leadership  voice 

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The Patient Experience Must Be Owned By All: Welcoming the Society of Healthcare Consumer Advocacy

Posted By Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D., Friday, November 22, 2013
Updated: Friday, November 22, 2013

In The Beryl Institute’s recent research report – The State of Patient Experience in American Hospitals 2013 – I noted in conclusion that the state of patient experience is growing stronger every day because of the many voices committed to this work. I too reinforced my belief that a patient experience movement is afoot, one that requires continuous and focused efforts and one that should be grounded in and built upon collaboration and alignment versus competition or the desire to stake a claim.

This idea rests at the very core of the global community of practice we have built at The Beryl Institute. We do not claim to own the patient experience, but rather to be a place where people can gather together to share what is best in what they are working to accomplish. Our philosophy has been and will remain that through collaboration not just great, but greater things can happen. 

It is in this very spirit of collaboration that I am excited to share the bridging of two great organizations to expand the alignment and dialogue on patient experience improvement. We have been in discussion with and will soon be welcoming the Society for Healthcare Consumer Advocacy (SHCA) into The Beryl Institute community. After an incredible 40 year history and supportive home with the American Hospital Association (AHA), our three organizations – The Beryl Institute, SCHA and AHA – saw great potential in supporting the next 40 years and beyond for SHCA within the Institute (You can read a letter from all of SHCA’s Past Board Presidents here). As of January 1, 2014, our communities will align to continue to expand the patient experience conversation and in doing so model the power of coming together in this critical dialogue.

More details will soon be available around this exciting next step in the history of focus on patient advocacy and more broadly patient experience improvement, but suffice it to say, the commitment to engaging all voices and growing those engaged in this important work is top of mind for us all. I am excited and proud to welcome the SHCA community to The Beryl Institute family as their new professional home and in doing so reiterate the very critical message I share here. That it is in coming together, not attempts at market distinction, in which the greatest outcomes are possible. 

I have watched in recent years as patient experience has moved from an emerging term to an active conversation at the center of policy and now financial focus. I have also seen a great game of ownership being played out. Much like one might have experienced during the gold rush, claiming their small bit of mountain stream to pan for hours, days or more in search of that one bright speck, many organizations – some well established, and some quite new – have all worked on positioning for their piece of the pie.

While I am a true believer in free enterprise and recognize the great potential for market savvy in this new world of healthcare, I also believe we have something bigger we are attempting to do in working towards patient experience excellence. It is in the bringing together of disparate thoughts or competing ideas, be they those of resource providers of similar services or healthcare organizations occupying the same market, in which the greatest outcomes can be realized. You see no one organization owns the patient experience, yet we in healthcare must all take ownership of it.

For this reason we have worked to bring the many voices together, for as I asserted above, this is where the strength of our work and its impact rests. This idea has been realized in the Institute’s Regional Roundtables where market "competitors” join together in sharing thoughts and crafting shared plans focused on improvement. It has been realized at Patient Experience Conference where numerous resource providers join in and engage in support of a true, independent community dialogue. It is seen in the willingness of some of the largest players in experience measurement to come together to share ideas between the covers of our soon to be released paper on the Voices of Measurement.

If we are to make the greatest differences in the lives of our patients, families, peers and community we must be open to the idea that above all else through collaboration and coordinated effort profound possibility exists for improvement and sustained impact. And while by my very words, I cannot claim The Beryl Institute is the only place this can or will be done, I do hope and in fact commit that we will continue to stand for the bringing together of all ideas, of every voice and of each hope in each and everything we do. As a community of practice it is our calling, at The Beryl Institute it is our cause and we are so very excited to see (and hopefully be a catalyst in) the patient experience family continuing to grow.

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

Tags:  Advocacy  AHA  body of knowledge  choice  community of practice  consumer advocacy  Continuum of Care  Field of Patient Experience  global healthcare  healthcare  Interactions  Leadership  patient advocac  Patient Experience  Patient Experience Conference  perception  SHCA  thought leadership  voice 

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Patients are Partners in Experience, Not Just Recipients of One

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Thursday, June 6, 2013
Updated: Thursday, June 6, 2013

In my most recent Hospital Impact blog I noted that "how” we choose to do things in healthcare will and should trump the "what”. This is supported by my travels through numerous healthcare organizations where it is becoming evident that the core practices organizations are using to drive patient experience success are more and more consistent. While some might see this as limiting, I see it as encouraging.

Why is that? It means we are listening to one another, learning from each other and showing an incredible willingness to "steal ideas shamelessly” as a well respected CEO once shared with me in describing a component of their organizational success. That means the ‘what’ we do is not very different location to location. The distinguishing characteristic in experience is not the things you do, but the way in which your deliver. This is at the core of the very definition of patient experience as "the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture”.

This ability to listen and learn from one another is a central value of all we do at The Beryl Institute. As a global community of practice we can (and must) learn from all edges of the community – those Institutions rated the "best” or seen as the "biggest” do not represent the only expertise. Rather it is in trying and executing of ideas in organizations of all shapes, sizes and focus through which excellence is supported and shared. It is based on this premise that the idea of a broad and inclusive range of voices has been so central to our work.

In returning to the conversation of "how”, I reflect on the recent conversations I had with 18 incredible patient and family advocates committed to the work of improving quality, safety and service for patients and families around the world in preparing the most recent paper from The Beryl Institute – Voices of Patients and Families: Partners in the Patient Experience. The stories these individual’s shared of compassion personified and at times the uglier side of care help us realize that there is power in how we choose to manage the interactions we have in healthcare every day. That it is truly more than the tactics, and rather the execution that matters.

The point I make here is all the tactics in the world amount to very little if all they are is something we do TO people in our care. The old language of provider and recipient may well still be used in healthcare, but its use is outdated and indicative of a system in need of change. Patients – yes, you and I, our children and parents, family and friends – are active parts of the healthcare equation, not passive recipients of it. We need to ensure we start acting this way. This perspective is exemplified through the work of such great organizations as the Society for Participatory Medicine.

While there are countless lessons shared by the individuals interviewed in the Voices paper, we inherently know many of them ourselves. Our contributors helped frame three central ideas in ensuring partnership in the care environment:

1. Acknowledge patients are not subjects in the healthcare process or "something” you should talk about or plan for in third person.

2. Recognize patients are not necessarily wired to actively engage in the healthcare process, due both to the complexity of healthcare and the nature of the system itself (that potentially diminishes the role of the patient in an unspoken hierarchy of expertise). You must ask, encourage, and act on the patient’s voice.

3. Consider coordinating efforts to identify and incorporate patient perceptions into the overall planning of care.

Personally, as I continue the journey of new fatherhood, I saw this play out in the very interactions we have had with our pediatrician. At our stage as new parents, we could be scolded, challenged or even talked down to about how we handle situations. Instead our doc engages us based on our questions, our hopes and fears. I know she is getting all the needed clinical work done, but she is including us as patients and family, as partners in the process. This is an active decision on her part, it is one that engages us in the care of our son and ensures a positive experience with every visit. "How” is a choice we can all make in healthcare and is one I believe will make all the difference.

 

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

Related Body of Knowledge courses: Patient & Family Centeredness.

Tags:  bottom line  choice  culture  defining patient experience  employee engagement  expectations  healthcare  improving patient experience  Interaction  Interactions  partnership  patient engagement  Patient Experience  patient stories  service excellence 

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All Voices Matter in Improving Patient Experience - A Reflection on Election Day

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012

In some of my most recent blogsand in current publications from The Beryl Institute we have expanded the dialogue on the importance and power of voice in driving towards a positive patient experience. It is only fitting to take pause of this, as today - November 6, 2012 - in the United States represents one of the most powerful examples of the expression of voice to be found. In electing a President, citizens of the U.S. of all backgrounds and beliefs have the opportunity to be heard. The intention is that every voice regardless of how young or old, soft or loud, rich or poor has value in a broader dialogue about the greater good and direction of the country.

As I travel to healthcare organizations and engage with patients and families, caregivers and leaders, one thing stands out. It is the great alignment these individuals have in desiring and working to ensure the best care outcomes and overall experience possible. The recognition in this expanding dialogue on experience is not one of cynicism or even submission to simple performance on surveys, but one driven on the same passion and commitment to the wellbeing of our fellow human beings as those that vote to support the best in what they believe.

The common denominator in these ideas is the most critical component of all we do in healthcare, in our world of human beings caring for human beings. The power is that of voice and the voice of all, be it spoken, written, sung or signed. Healthcare organizations around the world bring people together at the most critical times of our lives – from the joys of birth, to the tears of a last breath – and this is not something any of us do alone. It takes the hearts, minds and yes, voices of many to make it work. It is the voices of patients and families in expressing their needs, but also sharing their fears and pains. It is the voices of caregivers who contribute to the best processes of care and support for one another. It is the voices of physicians who bring great insight and education along with the powerful ability to heal. It is the voices of staff that in basements, back rooms, and labs sew together the web through which the paths of care are supported. It is the voices of leaders who set visions and inspire and hold the space for all voices to truly make a difference in how we care for one another.

I had someone suggest to me once that if we allow room for all these voices, we give in to chaos at the cost of processes of care; that the input from all corners of a healthcare experience, be it acute or pediatric, ambulatory or practice-based, cause a murkiness that only leads to confusion. My response was simple, and my experiences have proven it to be true more and more each day. The chaos only exists if we fail to listen. When we get beneath what some may perceive to be noise, we realize there is a great commitment to the idea that every one is working towards the health and well being of those in care. By bringing together a symphony of voices we not only engage people, but we also expand the potential of what we can accomplish.

There is no magic formula or process for the gathering of voices. The methods and processes are rather clear, be they surveys, focus groups, advisory councils or committees for patients, staff, physicians and leadership. More important is the fact that we choose to acknowledge that all of these individuals have a voice to share and it may be in the most unsuspecting moment that the most impactful idea emerges. Perhaps in the end it is simple, that improving the patient experience is nothing more than a critical dialogue that must be fostered, nurtured and supported in ensuring that we listen and understand that each and every voice matters.

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

Related Body of Knowledge courses: Communication.

Tags:  accountability  choice  culture  improving patient experience  Interactions  patient engagement  Patient Experience  service excellence  voice 

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Engagement: A Cornerstone of an Unparalleled Patient Experience

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 6, 2012

Over the last decade, engagement has been a consistently evolving strategic management term, first from the perspective of employees and more recently in healthcare with a line of sight on patients and families. In the simplest of terms, I see engagement as the involvement that someone has in a process or effort. Common discourse has had it tend to the positive by asserting employee engagement is a desired state versus just an action or behavior. Recent research (Shuck and Wollard, 2009) on the term employee engagement noted that with its rapid increase in use the definition of engagement has become muddied. Yet across the descriptions of this phenomenon there was consistency in describing engagement as a personal decision (not an organizational one) and one grounded in individual behaviors (as they relate to organizational goals).

This has significant implications for both employee and patient engagement. In the end it is about creating the environment in which individuals can choose to actively engage. Organizations cannot create engagement. Rather they can create the environment and reinforce the behaviors in which engagement can grow and thrive. This has significant implications for our work in healthcare overall.

Some have said that patient engagement is the latest buzzword for how we work to involve patients and families in the overall care experience. As a concept it has ties to safety and quality and links to the discussions on the application of meaningful use. Patient engagement is focused on ensuring patients take actions in order to obtain the greatest benefits of the healthcare services available to them.

The Nursing Alliance for Quality Care (NAQC) has deemed patient engagement "a critical cornerstone of patient safety and quality”. Their efforts have outlined a comprehensive set of nine principles to consider when engaging patients in their care. They stress "the primary importance of relationships” between patients, families and providers of care as key to effective engagement overall. This work stresses the foundation of relationship and partnership as central to the care experience.

These ideas are essential elements in how we identify experience overall at The Beryl Institute. At the very heart of the definition of patient experience is every interaction that occurs between a patient, family and the healthcare system in which they find themselves, from the deepest of relationships to the briefest of encounters. I believe we need to consider engagement more broadly and link its contributing values to the cornerstones of quality, safety and service. Together, quality, safety, engagement and service establish the legs on which the most comprehensive and positive patient experience can be built.

The same perspective can be taken when looking at the employee aspect of engagement. If engaging employees is around the behaviors of individuals that contribute to the goals of an organization, there is truly one means by which we can influence this action – the culture on which we build our very organizational existence. This leads us again to how we define experience at The Beryl Institute.

In reinforcing that the patient experience is "the sum of all interactions”, as we noted above, "based on an organization’s culture”, then healthcare organizations must have a strong commitment to not only create a positive environment for our patients and families, but one that supports the efforts of our staff, employees, and associates as well. In my travels to hospitals on behalf of the Institute both in the U.S. and abroad, I am continuously reminded that there is great power in the culture of an organization to drive excellence in experience. It is the foundation on which care givers and those that support them act and it shapes the environment in which care is delivered.

In considering engagement, I encourage us to move beyond the concept as a "nice to have” in our organizations, to a "must have” if we are to provide the best experience for patients and families alike. Engagement is not what we directly create, it is the result of doing the rest right – of creating vibrant and supportive cultures of service, quality and safety – of care at the highest order at every touch point across the continuum of care. If we do so and do so well we ensure the greatest of perceptions from our patients and the unparalleled experience we would want for our families and ourselves and we know they undoubtedly deserve.

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

Related Body of Knowledge courses: Employee Engagement.

Tags:  culture  defining patient experience  employee engagement  improving patient experience  Interactions  meaningful use  Nursing Alliance for Quality Care  patient engagement  Patient Experience  service excellence 

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