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The Beryl Institute Patient Experience Blog
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A Patient’s Wish List: Executing a Better Patient Experience

Posted By Tiffany Christensen, Wednesday, October 11, 2017

As the newest member of The Beryl Institute Team, I want to begin by stating how honored I feel to be brought in as the Vice President of Experience Innovation. I started my new role on October 1, 2017 and the timing could not have been better because my first day on the job meant a trip to Southlake, TX for a quarterly in-person staff meeting.

Since I have been a long-time friend and board member of the Institute, it was not a shock to me when I learned that Jason Wolf, President, had assigned the team a book to read for our upcoming (my first) staff strategy meeting. I’ll call it “Jason’s Book Club.” The title of the book was Execution: The Art of Getting Things Done.

I’ll be honest and say that the first few pages worried me because I immediately noticed this was primarily a book about business theory. I have my strengths and having a mind for business is not one I would put at the top of the list.

Turns out, I was familiar with this “world” after all because I have experienced a lot of the dynamics the book explores while working in a hospital and working as a consultant.

According to Execution, the first “building block” of running a successful business requires leaders to cultivate “emotional fortitude.” The authors go so far as to state that “leaders in contemporary organizations may be able to get away with emotional weakness for a brief time” but “emotional weakness will destroy both the leader and the organization.” In reading this, I certainly thought of the leaders we have running hospitals and regulatory bodies but it’s so much more than that. When the book outlined what it takes to achieve emotional fortitude, I felt like I might have been reading my patient wish list:

  • Authenticity
  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Mastery
  • Humility

It’s obvious to everyone that patients and families react differently to illness or injury. Part of what makes working in healthcare so challenging is the simple fact that what makes one person feel safe and cared for may feel like an intrusion or a lack of caring to the person in the room down the hall. With that said, there are some universalities to the patient experience that lend themselves to a core set of needs.

Authenticity. Being a patient usually brings with it some level of emotional “rawness.” Simply put, getting in touch with one’s vulnerability and mortality often brings with it a sense of urgency to cut through some of our society’s typical superficial layers and get to the heart of things. Whether this is the heart of the diagnosis or the heart of what brings life meaning, patients and families crave authenticity from loved ones and the professionals caring for them. For example, as we work to find our True North in creating a better experience, sometimes professionals bring an overly cheery attitude into the room. While this has the best of intentions, it can often rub patients and families the wrong way because it feels incongruous to the patient’s current state. When professionals are not able to acknowledge the tone of the patient or family, they are not able to meet this need for authenticity and the ability to effectively communicate may be impacted.

Self-Awareness. Just as every patient in a healthcare setting is human, so too are the professionals caring for patients. Despite what we seem to be asking of our healthcare professionals in today’s climate, no one person can be all things to all people. Those who know their own strengths and weakness have the opportunity to consciously craft the best possible approach to working with patients and families. As one works on their weaknesses, they can also call upon their team members to support patients and families in ways that may not come as easily to them. Some people explain clinical information very well while others do a better job sitting with those who are grieving a loss or new diagnosis. It is essential that healthcare professionals not expect themselves to be perfect or responsible for meeting every need of every patient/family member. However, by practicing self-awareness, teams can be honest with each other about who is best to serve in what capacity to meet the needs of those they serve. It goes without saying that this level of self-awareness combined with the willingness to strategize around it, requires all of the other characteristics explored here.

Self-Mastery. Being a patient can also bring with it a level of fear or frustration that makes a person behave outside of themselves. To say it more plainly, patients are often at their worst and this can be reflected in behavior that can be read as rude, erratic or impatient. Without Self-Mastery, it is easy to match a patient’s tone of negativity and even take their behavior personally. When healthcare professionals don’t practice self-mastery and they become emotionally effected by a patient’s poor behavior, they may visit the patient less, fail to engage them in co-designing the treatment plan and speak to them in a way that has unpleasant undertones. Self-Mastery is certainly the tallest of the orders in this list. A lack of it also holds the greatest potential for the team to break down and for everyone to feel disrespected. As it relates to satisfaction for patients, families and providers, this is arguably the most important ingredient.

Humility. Humility is a quality that likely does not need much of an illustration. A person who is not humble is often perceived as a person who is not keen on considering the opinions and perspectives of others. In the larger picture, humility is key to patient safety. If a provider cannot humble themselves to take concerns, corrections or stories seriously, they may miss crucial information and possibly make a mistake in the diagnosis or treatment of their patient. As a patient, the possibility of not being heard can evoke fear and frustration. I believe this is because, on a conscious or unconscious level, patients and families know instinctively that a lack of humility is a safety issue.  

If your heart is heavy thinking about being both clinically excellent AND dedicated to personal growth, please don’t despair. This list is not just for healthcare professionals. As we continue to explore what it means for a patients and families to be authentic members of the healthcare team, we should also turn this list around to be a set of goals for patients and families.

Imagine the team dynamic if patients, families and providers all were working at authenticity, self-awareness, self-mastery and humility. This team would be filled with honesty, vulnerability and a clear focus in collaboration and co-designing care. Perhaps these are those intangible elements of patient and family engagement that are hard to measure but quite obvious when absent. Perhaps we could use these characteristics as the anchors to a vision for the ideal in healthcare teamwork. And, just think, all of these components of emotional fortitude came from business people! Sincerely, I am grateful for Jason’s Book Club pick, Execution, allowing us to take a look at healthcare leadership and teamwork through a different lens; the lens of a Patient’s Wish List.


Tiffany Christensen
Vice President, Experience Innovation
The Beryl Institute

 

Source:
Bossidy, L., Charan, R., & Burck, C. (2002). Execution: The discipline of getting things done. New York: Crown Business.

Tags:  authencity  book  business  execution  humility  patient  patient advocate  patient and family engagement  reading  self-awareness  self-mastery 

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Patient Experience: A Global Conversation

Posted By Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D., Thursday, May 4, 2017
Updated: Thursday, May 4, 2017

I am writing this blog as we wrap up the 2017 Patient Experience Symposium in Sydney. The event, a collaboration among healthcare and consumer organizations in Australia committed to engaging in and expanding the conversation on patient experience, comes on the heels of an incredible Patent Experience Week where we saw organizations from around the globe celebrating those committed to excellence in patient experience. In that same period, we had the release of the latest issue of Patient Experience Journal (PXJ) that brought together perspectives from around the world and is now read in over 190 countries and territories.

As I reflect on just these last few days, they represent a significant statement about where the patient experience movement is going. They also offer us some perspective on the opportunity we have before us and the efforts we must consider in moving to action overall. The experience movement that bloomed in the last decade and that some called a fad that would soon pass or an idea that would be obscured by shifting policy focus or diluted by competing priorities, instead has found itself expanding with purpose.

As Jane Cummings, CNO England wrote in her commentary in the latest PXJ, “the global dialogue on patient experience will become even more important, as we recognise that despite differences in design and operation, the challenges our health systems face and the focus on what matters most to patients are shared.” This recognition that we are moving to a macro effort, acknowledging the reality of our own individual systemic constraints not as impediments, but perhaps learning points to be leveraged is where opportunity calls us. In looking across systems boundaries and peeling back policy layers, we reveal fundamentals that rest solidly at the heart of the experience conversation. These ideas were reinforced in the latest State of Patient Experience data just released during Patient Experience Conference 2017.

  1. Experience must remain an integrated focus on quality, safety, service and more. To provide the best in experience and effect positive change, we can no longer force boundaries between these efforts in the face that they are all part of what patients, families and consumers encounter.
  2. The fastest growing area of focus for organizations in addressing experience is employee engagement. This rapid rise in both recognition of and focus on staff needs in the healthcare ecosystem is fundamental and significant. The idea that we must take care of ourselves to take care of others, is not just motherly advice, but sound strategic thinking in a business where we are human beings caring for human beings.
  3. In finding employee engagement at the heart of all we do, it is forever intertwined with the engagement of patients and family members as partners in this work, not only in their own care plans, but in the very work we must do to redesign our systems of care, co-design new processes and better understand the needs of those we serve. My visit this last two weeks in Australia and the opportunity to engage with both the consumer councils in New South Wales and Western Australia reinforced the critical point that patients, family and community members are partners in and consumers of care. This idea spans our globe and must be central to any actions we take.

In all that I had the chance to see and learn during my last 10 days in Australia, what was shared over PX Week and is part of the ongoing patient experience conversation, not only are these core ideas central across time zones, there are core practices that follow as well. These include ideas such as the intentional collection of actionable data – both through formal survey methods and now more so in real time to address critical issues and build cases for change, interdisciplinary rounds and bedside shift reports and handoffs, creating formal structures and processes for engaging patients and families on councils, boards and committees and expanding how staff and employees can provide feedback and contribute to improvements.

In finding core ideas and common ground, we must also acknowledge the work of patient experience is not easy work. It is not something we master simply by creating checklists or wrangle with protocols. It is something that requires strategic commitment, an openness to collaboration and sharing and perhaps most of all an acknowledgement that we are all in this effort together. There is a global conversation taking place on patient experience, one focused on creating the best healthcare systems driving the best results on all corners of our globe.

We must now be willing to share wildly and steal willingly in order to learn from one another and improve. That is our greatest and most critical opportunity and one we should not take lightly. We are in a unique and opportune moment in healthcare, for as an industry in serving those in front of us, we can and will bring this world closer. It is a conversation I am honored to be a part of and one I, and I hope each of you, will strive every day to champion.

 

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

Tags:  collaboration  community of practice  employee engagement  global  partnership  patient and family engagement  patient experience week  state of patient experience 

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