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Opposing Natures: Honoring the Properties of Water

Posted By Tiffany Christensen, Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Patient activation is a behavioral concept… It is defined as 'an individual's knowledge, skill, and confidence for managing their health and health care'.
(Hibbard et al 2005).

We know from all of the literature on patient activation that there is a way to both understand and measure a patients’ readiness to manage their health and their healthcare. We also know that there are techniques, such as motivational interviewing, that can assist in moving a patient from lower activation to a higher activation. In so doing, patients and families gain knowledge skills and confidence. As a person working in the field of patient experience, I find activation work to be both inspiring and essential in operationalizing engagement. As a patient, I have experienced activation is a moving target.

Recently, I was reacquainted with my personal activation scale when I found myself feeling puny shortly before a big trip to Thailand. I had never been to Thailand, I was meeting my best friend there and I was using all of my airline miles to have the trip of a lifetime. It goes without saying that I really wanted to go so when I began feeling sick my first thought was “Noooooo! I can’t let this stop me from going!” Like a good CF/Lung Transplant patient, I called my team and set up an appointment to be seen with the hope that I would get the “ok” from my team to go on my big trip. I arrived with my personal SBAR form all filled out, questions at the ready and feeling very high on the activation scale.

The flu swab was negative, WBC was normal, chest X-Ray looked good and I was not spiking fevers. After a great conversation with my transplant medicine doctor, we decided it would be okay to go on the trip as long as my symptoms did not get worse over the next few days. That was the news I hoped to hear!

A few days later, I was on my way to Thailand via a very long series of stops: Raleigh to JFK to Moscow to China to Thailand. Confident I had a simple virus, I boarded my first plane feeling very comfortable with traveling the long distance. By the time I got to JFK, things began to change and by the time I was ready to board the plane to Moscow, I knew I was too sick to travel. After making the tough decision to turn around and getting my flight home arranged, I began my descent into illness.

In the interest of the reader, I want to begin by saying I was fine and I am fine. Eventually, it was determined through a bronchoscopy that I did have the flu. Just the flu. Especially this season, few people seemed to be able to avoid this virus and, just by how common it is, it seems silly to say that it brought me to my knees; especially in light of my past medical history. But it did.

Fever, fatigue, coughing…the normal flu stuff. At some point in the illness process I lost my voice entirely which was far more debilitating than I would have imagined it to be. As a CF/ Lung Transplant patient, I was hyper-focused on my symptoms and my internal life was one of balancing logic (“this is just the flu”) with diligence (“you can’t let this get away from you”). I had faith in my team and hoped each day that I would feel better but, day after day, I felt worse and worse. Worry began to creep in and clouded my mind. My once clear, organized approach to dealing with this illness challenge began to slip away. My level of activation seemed to be melting away along with my sense of well-being.

It was approximately one week after my initial symptoms that I had a night of restless sleep peppered with visions of ventilators. It was as if I could feel the life draining out of my body and I thought to myself, “Oh, I can see how people die from the flu.” I couldn’t help but wonder if I was experiencing anxiety or a premonition. My canceled trip to Thailand was no longer something I gave a second thought—my goal had shifted from wanting to go on that trip to wanting to make it through this alive.

The following morning, I carried the weight of my ventilator dreams with me as I went to have a bronchoscopy. At the hospital, I felt what has become a very common dichotomy for me: my very personal (often unspoken) illness experience butting up against the day-to-day work of those caring for me.

Because of my history working in a hospital, I both recognize and respect the “why and how” of daily operations. During the years I worked as a patient advocate in an academic medical center, my days were dictated by structure. The structure of the CMS policies I was required to follow, the structure of prioritizing the calls, letters and pages I received each day and the structure of daily work flow for the clinical providers surrounding me. Checklists, protocols and routines were everywhere. Assuming the role of sick patient, however, I was reminded that the experience of being a patient is often the antithesis of a structured, day-to-day norm. In fact, showing up for healthcare is quite opposite from a “normal” day. Likewise, being activated wasn’t something I had achieved and could check off of a to-list; it was something that I had to work to maintain.

The walk from the car to the front door was difficult; I was too weak to walk without holding on to my friend. After checking in, I had to get labs, CT and go to clinic. All of these were in very different parts of the hospital and the walk to each area seemed to be miles and miles. In each waiting room, I longed to lie down but there were only hard, upright chairs. I wore a mask and, since I lost my voice, nobody could hear me or see my mouth move. Person after person seemed both surprised and shocked to discover I was unable to communicate verbally. To all of the people I presented to, my case was not remarkable nor was it dire. Objectively, they were correct. That didn’t change the fact that I was still weighed down by my night of ICU visions and getting from “A” to “B” seemed to take all of the strength I could muster. It seems strange to me now that all of those emotional twists and turns had gone largely undetected by those around me; both my medical team and my family.

After the bronchoscopy, I was given strong antibiotics and slowly began to recover. My healing was as palpable as my descent into illness. I could feel my body changing every day and, some days, I was filled with a sense of euphoria because of my improving health. The tides had shifted and my internal life was one of hope and gratitude. Increasing physical strength buoyed my ability manage my life again. My challenging internal journey was winding down and I was returning to my “activated” self.  My sites were now set on going back to work and rescheduling that trip to Thailand.

If we want to "engage" patients, we must never lose sight of the fact that we are functioning in two different worlds: one that demands predictable outcomes and one that, by its own nature, can never be truly be made submissive to our will. As many times as I have lived through illness and healing, I am always amazed at how quickly I forget the reality of what it is to experience it. To try and operationalize the patient experience is like trying to contain water. It can be done, certainly, but to dishonor the unpredictable nature of illness/healing is like trying to deny the properties of water.

As we continue to hammer out ways to be better partners in the road of illness and healing, it’s natural for people on both sides of the bed to feel frustration. It’s also imperative that we keep in mind that this frustration does not result from one person being right or one person being wrong. Both are simply behaving exactly as the nature of their respective experiences dictate: the healthcare professional is functioning from logic, structure and science and the patient is immersed in the ever-changing tides of an illness/healing dynamic.

Activation levels are not a constant, no matter who the patient happens to be or how extensive their medical history. Knowledge, skills and confidence rise and fall like water lapping against the shore. If we begin all of our interactions with that awareness, we can put aside some intrinsic, (often) unconscious frustrations that derail us from partnership and effective communication. It is then we can truly meet people where they are and come together as a team.

 

Tiffany Christensen
Vice President, Experience Innovation
The Beryl Institute

Tags:  communication  flu  healthcare team  partnership  patient engagement  personal experience  recovery  story  team  together  transplant 

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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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“#Hellomyname is”: An idea at the heart of the experience movement

Posted By Jason Wolf, Monday, August 1, 2016
Updated: Friday, July 29, 2016

Just over a week ago the world lost a powerful advocate for our humanity. While Dr. Kate Granger, a physician turned patient advocate due to her own healthcare experiences may have left us physically, she will be forever present through a powerful legacy that rests at the heart of the patient experience movement. 

I never had the honor to personally know Kate, but in what she accomplished with the golden minutes of life she maintained, I felt I have met her fully. If we believe our efforts in healthcare are grounded in the simple notion that we are human beings caring for human beings our lenses shift. We move from a notion of clinical protocol or programed action, to personal consideration, understanding and partnership.

At the heart of this idea is that in healthcare all of the moments we have – clinically or otherwise – take place at a point of interaction. It is at this point of interaction where experience happens. We are not nameless providers of care interacting with a diagnosis or room number, rather all that exists is a connection, one person to another.

As people, whether on the delivery or the receiving side of healthcare across settings, each and every one of us is an individual with a story, a heart, a soul, memories, dreams, hopes, fears and a name. Perhaps it is the latter, that I am person with a name, that serves as the frame for all of this. That is the legacy that Kate is leaving us.

Kate inspired an idea that exemplifies the fundamental simplicity behind ensuring the best in experience. For in our simple actions, we can have the most profound impact. Kate’s realization through her experiences on the other side of the bed were that we all too often missed one another as people, we didn't share who we were, we didn't share our name. As Kate revealed in an interview on her own experience, she was not treated as a person, but rather an object to be treated, stating, “I just couldn’t believe the impersonal nature of care and how people seemed to be hiding behind their anonymity.”

This led to a powerful idea and an emerging movement - #hellomynameis. This concept now used by hundreds of thousands of people globally was grounded in a simple concept. As Kate shared via her site, the purpose of #hellomynameis is “to encourage and remind healthcare staff about the importance of introductions in healthcare. I firmly believe it is not just about common courtesy, but it runs much deeper. Introductions are about making a human connection between one human being who is suffering and vulnerable, and another human being who wishes to help. They begin therapeutic relationships and can instantly build trust in difficult circumstances. In my mind #hellomynameis is the first rung on the ladder to providing truly person-centred, compassionate care.

These words define the profound power of this idea and the importance of this legacy. If we are to remain true to the foundation on which healthcare has been built – on care, on connection, on healing the whole person and on the compassion it takes – this is an idea we cannot ignore. It is who we are in healthcare and reminds us of and supports us in being all we aspire to be. This idea personifies all I have seen as good, right and true as I have traveled around the healthcare world in search of experience excellence. So while Kate may no longer walk with us, we can carry her heart and spirit in every interaction we look to have and for the very hope that each of us has for the greatest healthcare can be. We must carry on this legacy and I encourage each and every one of you to engage in this cause. #Hellomynameis Jason and I, like you, am the patient experience. Join me!

To learn more about Kate and her effort, here are a few valuable links:

Hellomynameis.org
Hello, my name is Kate Granger
BMJ – Kate Granger
Globe and Mail – Andre Picard - Remembering Kate Granger, a champion of human connection

 

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

 

Tags:  #Hellomynameis  defining patient experience  global healthcare  improving patient experience  Kate Granger  patient engagement  Patient Experience  patient stories  storytelling  voice 

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Supporting the Expanding Field of Patient Experience

Posted By Stacy Palmer, Thursday, June 9, 2016
Updated: Thursday, June 9, 2016

This week we opened the call for submissions for Patient Experience Conference 2017. It will mark the seventh official year for this event, the annual gathering bringing together the collective voices of healthcare professionals and patients/families across the globe to convene, engage in and expand the dialogue on improving patient experience. 

Each year we’ve seen significant increases is conference participation, with almost 1,000 people gathering in Dallas this past April to share, learn and network with one another. Similarly The Beryl Institute community itself continues to grow, now made up of over 45,000 members and guests from 55 countries. We believe this growth signifies the expansion of the patient experience movement. Leaders are realizing a focus on experience is a necessity for survival in the ever-changing healthcare environment.

We’ve watched the field develop with some organizations now appointing Chief Experience Officers to guide efforts and strategy. Patient Experience Institute, a sister organization of The Beryl Institute, has established a formal designation for Certified Patient Experience Professionals – and over 140 organizations now have one or more CPXPs on staff. Hundreds of individuals are expanding their professional development through the PX Body of Knowledge certificate programs. And Patient Experience Week was established to celebrate those who positively impact experience every day. 

Without a doubt, the field of patient experience is expanding.

This expansion continues to change the dynamics of The Beryl Institute Community. When we began as a membership organization in late 2010, most of our members were just getting started on their patient experience journeys. They were incredibly willing to share the successes and struggles along the way – which led to the abundance of community-developed content that exists and continues to grow today.

While we’ll always offer resources, support and encouragement to those beginning their efforts, we must continue to elevate the conversation to also support those further along on their journeys. Many of you are now looking to the community for information on how you can take things to the next level. How do you sustain your programs? What can you do to develop deeper engagement opportunities with patients and family members? How can you bring down silos that exist within your organization? How do you integrate social media into experience efforts?

The expansion of the field and our commitment to provide the breadth and levels of content needed to support the community led us to a significant change in the conference call for submissions process for 2017. As you complete the submission form for a standard breakout, mini session or poster – and we invite you to consider doing so – you’ll be asked to identify the development stage for your content, specifically your submission is ideal for individuals with:

  • Minimal knowledge and experience. Looking for some basic information, key principles and "how to’s” on the subject.
  • Working knowledge and some proven experience. Looking for breath or depth in the subject, how to sustain and engage others and/or dealing with resistance to change on the subject. 
  • Authoritative knowledge and proven success. Looking for advanced knowledge and examples to evolve their understanding and practice on the subject. 

This is the scale our Learning and Professional Development team considers regularly as they develop content for our webinars, topic calls and other resources, and we're excited to now apply this process to Patient Experience Conference. This information will guide our volunteer reviewers and conference planning committee to develop a well-balanced program that meets the needs of participants at all levels. We’ll identify sessions as beginning, intermediate or advanced so you can make the most-informed choices on what sessions you will attend to customize your learning experience. 

It’s important to acknowledge, however, that levels of learning can be both subjective and cyclical. Organizations who once excelled at certain facets of patient experience may find themselves slipping in that area over time and in need of a basic refresher. And organizations just beginning a patient experience journey might have certain areas in which they already perform well ahead of the curve. There will always be a need to support all levels of development and we are committed to sharing that breadth of resources.  We thank you in advance for your contributions to the community. Sharing your story and knowledge truly represents the core idea that we are ALL the Patient Experience!


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

Tags:  collaboration  commitment  community  community of practice  engagement  Field of Patient Experience  global healthcare  healthcare  improving patient experience  patient  patient engagement  Patient Experience  Patient Experience Conference  service excellence 

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When the Patient Experience becomes more Personal

Posted By Stacy Palmer, Wednesday, March 2, 2016

We have an incredibly passionate community at The Beryl Institute. I know for many that passion has been fueled by personal experiences that drove them to be part of this work. Others have been inspired to join the patient experience movement to spread what they believe is the right thing to do for those we serve. And sometimes while doing this work they have encountered their own life experiences, whether small bumps in the road or larger life-changing events, that reinforced the importance of patient experience and provided new perspective to guide their efforts.

Last year I experienced this firsthand when my daughter, Maya, dislocated and fractured her elbow while cheerleading. She had an emergency reduction surgery the night of the accident to put her elbow back in place and a second surgery a few days later to insert a screw to correct the fracture. All went well, but they decided to keep her overnight to help control her pain and that one night provided an incredible opportunity for reflection and perspective for me as a person who has built a career in patient experience. 

While I work everyday to share stories and practices of how our community works to improve the healthcare experience, I’ve been fortunate to have very few patient or family experiences myself. It’s amazing how your perspective intensifies when you’re sitting inside a hospital room observing the care of a loved one.

A few ideas were reinforced for me that night and, as simple as they are, I believe they are important considerations as we address overall experience.

  • Patients (and those who love and care for them) are incredibly vulnerable in a healthcare setting. Maya and I are pretty confident in our regular routines, but we were a bit clueless at the hospital – even with simple things such as ordering meals and turning on the TV. More significantly, we were at the hands of the staff to know what medicines she should have, if her body was reacting as it should to the surgery and how to best control the pain. We had to trust the healthcare team. As a children’s hospital, I must acknowledge they had several things in place that helped Maya feel more comfortable. Volunteers brought her a stuffed lamb and they let her select from a fun collection of super soft blankets to use while there that she could also take home. The hospital even had a Build-a-Bear Workshop on site, which I believe was the key motivator in getting her walking around post-surgery. Any steps, however large or small, an organization can to take to comfort and ease the feeling of vulnerability can have a significant impact.  
  • Healthcare workers are human. I think people often place doctors and nurses on pedestals in their minds assuming they should have perfect accuracy, bedside manners and responsiveness. While Maya had some great people caring for her, I was quickly reminded they were human. They had varied levels of experience, focus and relationship skills. As humans they also had their own lives that did have an impact on how they cared for my daughter – maybe stresses at home, conflict with co-workers or even their own health challenges. Regardless of how dedicated and professional, humans make mistakes. I came to appreciate all the checks and balances they implemented to help prevent that. At first I was a little disturbed by the redundant questions like “What is your name? Birthday? Any allergies?” But as I reminded myself the staff were each caring for multiple patients, I learned to appreciate their diligence to make sure everything matched up. I encourage healthcare workers to explain the needs for these steps to patients as this goes a long way in giving them confidence in their healthcare team.
  • Patients need advocates. The vulnerability and realization that the staff treating Maya were human reinforced a point that sometimes gets overlooked in healthcare – the important role of the caregiver. A few years ago a co-worker’s husband was in the hospital and she refused to leave his side. As much as she respected the healthcare team caring for him, she realized no one had his best interest at heart as much as she did. She was there to be sure they gave him the right medicines, at the right times and in the right amounts. She kept a journal of his condition and symptoms to share with the doctor, and she was there to be sure he ate, had food choices he liked and any assistance he needed. After being in the hospital with Maya for just one night, I understood her point completely, and not just because Maya was 11. The caregiver can play a vital role in helping ensure quality, safety and experience are what they should be in all care settings.

Maya was lucky that her hospital stay was short and she was quickly on the road to recovery. Being with her that night enriched my perspective and purpose, both as a mom caring for a child and as a professional committed to help make the healthcare experience the best it can be for everyone.

We are currently working on a white paper at the Institute that will share the stories of many patient experience leaders who, in the face of a personal health experience – however large or small, shifted their perspective from PX leader to patient or patient’s family member. If you are willing to share your story, we encourage you to participate in this project. 

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

Tags:  choice  community  engagement  Field of Patient Experience  improving patient experience  patient  patient and family  patient engagement  Patient Experience  perception  service excellence  voice 

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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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Understanding expectations matters to experience excellence

Posted By Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D., Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Updated: Friday, February 6, 2015

In a recent personal encounter shared by our Director, Member Experience, Michelle Garrison, she told a story of her own healthcare experience related to a surgical procedure and how it made her feel as a patient in the process. Her experience and insights reinforced a critical point central to the conversation on experience excellence – expectations matter.

I first addressed this issue in the Patient Experience Blog two years ago when I wrote:

"Expectations are powerful. They influence what we see, how we act, and the way we react. They stir emotions and create real feelings from joy to anger, surprise to sadness. The reality of expectations is that they present an intriguing paradox in how they can and do influence the situations in which we find ourselves. Expectations are an individual and even very personal experience, yet at the same time they can be set by organizations, businesses and other people outside of one’s self. This makes expectation potentially the most valuable and perhaps most precarious tool in the discussion of consumer experience and in healthcare, the patient experience.”

As Michelle shared her story, she reinforced an important point from her personal experience. She noted, "We are continually looking for the best methods to help prepare patients and family members by ensuring they know what they are likely to face when they visit with a doctor, arrive at the hospital, leave a healthcare encounter and beyond. By setting their expectations ahead of time, we help prepare them and give them the opportunity for the best patient experience. However, even with the most comprehensive of processes in place, there are going to be times when expectations are not met and the patient experience will fall short.”

This was a profound statement for me as I realized in Michelle’s words reflecting on her encounter that she felt the provider would have provided expectations. It also raised an important point, and I dare say an opportunity. That in providing the best in experience we must also be willing to ask the questions and take the steps necessary to understand the expectations of those we are caring for.

In talking about her experience Michelle said "I was not the best of patients. Though, I am pretty sure if you were to ask my doctor, the nurses, anesthesiologist and the others who took care of me, they would not have anything bad to say about my behavior or me.” In asking why she felt that way, she added,

"Here is where I fell short. I did not ask enough questions and the questions that I did ask were not the right ones. I was not as informed as I could have been about what was going to take place and how I would feel after the procedure, and so my expectations did not match the reality of what occurred. I was given instructions both before and after, on the procedure and what to do if there was a problem, but there was nothing about how to deal with the lingering after effects and how I might feel. I mistakenly thought all of the information I needed would be given to me without my having to ask for it, but it was not. Of course, I could have reached out to my doctor, but instead I did what I am sure a lot of patients do, I turned to the internet to see if what I was experiencing was normal.”

This statement is powerful and eye opening in its potential reflection of the way many other patients or family members may feel in the midst of the healthcare system and their own experiences. This is a significant realization we may often miss, that while patients want to engage, they are not sure how to participate or what to ask. Or they believe what they need to know will be provided so don't think they even need to ask. In concluding her story, Michelle shared, "It is important to understand that patients and family members are not always going to ask all the questions they should or even the right ones. They may not know what questions to ask because they will assume, like I did, that the answers will be in that packet of paperwork they were given.”

I think we would all agree Michelle was not a "bad” patient, but perhaps quite the opposite, a patient that was trusting in the system to take care of her. Michelle’s procedure was successful and the system did its job, but the realization here is that there is an opportunity for much more. In many ways creating a process for clarifying and understanding the expectations of all participants in the care encounter be they patients or family members, doctors, specialists or support services and in doing so together could be one the most clear, simple and impactful ways to create the best in outcomes overall. Thanks Michelle for helping us to see and understand this point with greater clarity. You are the patient experience!

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

Tags:  expectations  patient engagement  patient experience  process 

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Reflecting on the Future of Patient Experience: Four Considerations for the Year Ahead

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The end of the year always brings a flurry of activity to finish what we set out to do and/or plan for what awaits in the year to come. It also serves as a time for reflection and looking ahead. This can be both an exciting and overwhelming exercise, but one that simmers at the core of our humanity, one filled with hopes and aspirations, commitments and goals. This is no different when we look to the very humanity at the heart of excellence in patient experience itself.

I remain inspired by the exponential growth in energy, commitment, resources and interest in positively impacting the experience for patients, residents and families and for those providing care at all touch points across the continuum. Our commitment at the Institute remains to ensure this conversation continues to grow. I reinforce often that experience is not a fad, but rather it is fundamental to all we do in healthcare. It is both what we expect as participants in our respective healthcare systems and what we aspire to deliver in every encounter.

To support this in the last year we have expanded our resources and increased accessibility to The Beryl Institute. We have added both complimentary offerings, such as the new open-access and peer reviewed Patient Experience Journal (with forty new articles and commentaries this year) and community member benefits with PX Learning Bites, providing short educational insights into experience excellence. We have developed the core of the PX Body of Knowledge, our community developed framework of learning and development, and will offer twelve new modules before year’s end.

We have also expanded access to our community of practice in launching new Institutional Memberships, engaging thousands of individuals at all levels in healthcare organizations with a passion for patient experience improvement. We also have broadened the experience dialogue across the continuum with new content and engagement for Patient Advocates and in one of the fastest-growing segments in healthcare – Long-Term Care. And while these items were initiated in this year, they also represent a looking ahead and an investment in where we can go together as an experience movement.

This commitment, grounded in the contributions of our almost 28,000 members and guests in over 55 countries, is driven by four considerations I believe are central to driving patient experience excellence across care settings (and have been critical to our work in growing The Beryl Institute community itself). Consider these ideas as you look to the year ahead and your own experience efforts.

  • A mindset of abundance. Experience excellence is grounded in a spirit of generosity, in openness and access, sharing, and the active invitation to engage and contribute. It is the expanding of possibility and an understanding that rather than a zero-sum game, there is much to learn from and enough to spare for all; for those we care for and serve and for those with whom we work.
  • A commitment to inclusivity. The greatest opportunity we have in driving the best in experience is to ensure all voices are not only acknowledged, but also engaged and heard. In expanding our listening and the opportunity for contribution we open up possibilities we have yet to consider or even knew existed.
  • A focus on agility. In the dynamic world of healthcare and in our human environment in general, static state is now equivalent to falling behind and change in many ways is simply treading water. We must build the muscles of agility – the capacity to rapidly reconfigure and realign resources to lead new directions or shift as needed with the needs of our communities and the industry.
  • A drive for innovation. Excellence in experience may be best served by a vigilance to continuously searching for news ways of thinking, doing and disseminating ideas. This is beyond improvement of existing systems to look for concepts, constructs and practices that can lead us to new levels and to positive and lasting outcomes. 

I offer these considerations as we look to the year ahead to suggest something significant. Yes, we have defined experience; yes, we are aware of the critical strategies and tactics that can frame and drive positive outcomes; but, if we are truly committed to a lasting and positive future in this work, we need to think not only about what we do, but also how we continue to stretch ourselves in doing it. The year ahead for patient experience will bring exciting new discoveries, powerful lessons and compelling stories that will move and inspire us to new levels. We do this not only out of passion, but out of our commitment to one another and the care we hope to provide to all.

I wish you all the best of holiday seasons, may it be warm and joyous as you connect with loved ones and friends. And as we look forward, here is to each of you for the positive impact you have committed to in caring for others and each other, as we continue this critical and exciting journey. I am honored and grateful to travel this road with you and anticipate with great excitement all that the days ahead will bring.

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

Tags:  abundance  agility  culture  defining patient experience  improving patient experience  inclusivity  innovationemployee engagement  patient engagement  Patient Experience  service excellence 

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Become a Leader in the Patient Experience Movement

Posted By Stacy Palmer, Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I recently received a note from a new member who is early in her career and looking for ways to maximize her membership to get "plugged in” to the Institute and gain credibility within the patient experience community. We get questions like this often. While passionate about getting involved in the patient experience movement, many of our members aren’t quite sure how to get started.

To help, I want to share the suggestions I gave her. I believe they are applicable for patient experience leaders at any stage. First, leadership is not about years of experience. It’s about influence (and willingness to contribute). While healthcare has been around for centuries, a focused patient experience movement is still taking shape at all levels of healthcare organizations. To "plug in” and be a leader, you need to do one thing – share.

The power of sharing is what The Beryl Institute community is built upon and in doing so people reap even greater benefits themselves. Leadership in our movement is grounded in a generosity of spirit and contribution, collaboration and openness.

 The Beryl Institute offers many ways for you to share and be active participants in the patient experience movement.

  • Get engaged in the conversation. That's the best way to share what you're doing and learn from others. We have Patient Experience Leaders and Patient Advocacy listservs that are very active. Be sure to sign up for those and respond to questions and/or pose your own. And when you find something that’s successful in your organization – share it through a case study.

  • Attend a live event. We have a very engaged, energetic community and they love meeting and brainstorming with new people. It's also a great chance to find a mentor. We have two Regional Roundtables coming up in October - one in Boston and one in Seattle. And Patient Experience Conference 2015 will be April 8-10, 2015 in Dallas. If travel is a concern, you can talk to other members via phone on our monthly topic calls.

  • Immerse yourself in the PX Body of Knowledge (BOK). It's a community-driven framework highlighting the 15 domains critical for an effective PX leader. We currently have courses available for 8 of the 15 domains with the other 7 coming soon. You can gain lots of information from other resources available through your membership, but I always recommend the BOK courses to people looking to establish a solid foundation.

One of our members recently commented that he views his involvement with The Beryl Institute as much more than a membership. He believes his engagement is a bigger statement supporting the patient experience movement. His outlook exemplifies the passion we see everyday from the community.

In fact, I am constantly amazed by the eagerness of our members to contribute, get involved and truly become leaders in the movement. With over 60 members on our boards and councils, subgroups like the Patient Advocacy and Physician communities, and regular contributors to our guest blog, case studies and On the Road program, those desiring to be thought leaders in this critical movement have a place. You just need to choose to engage.

And for the many of you already involved in The Beryl Institute who want to do even more to support the movement, my advice to you is the same: share. One of the greatest ways to be a leader in the patient experience movement is to pass along a story, case study, research report or other resource that might inspire those around you to look at their roles differently, to see the impact they can have on creating the best possible experience for patients, families and caregivers. Simply, share. 

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”  - Robert Louis Stevenson


Stacy Palmer

Vice President, Strategy and Member Experience
The Beryl Institute

Tags:  community of practice  Field of Patient Experience  healthcare  improving patient experience  Interaction  Leadership  patient  patient engagement  Patient Experience  Patient Experience Conference  service excellence  thought leadership 

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Reflections on Patient Experience Week

Posted By Stacy Palmer, Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Last week we celebrated the first annual Patient Experience Week, providing a focused time for organizations to recognize accomplishments, reenergize efforts and honor the people who impact patient experience everyday. From nurses and physicians, to support staff and executive professionals, to patients, families and communities served, the Institute brought together healthcare organizations across the globe.

Proclaiming a new week to observe is a little scary, especially in healthcare where we were warned that many organizations suffer from ‘Week Fatigue,’ but we were delighted by the excitement, participation and support from the community.

We believe that by being a part of Patient Experience Week, healthcare organizations showed employees they appreciate their hard work and encourage their continued efforts on behalf of patients. This week was meant to enhance patient and staff relations, increase hospital morale and improve overall communication, and that’s exactly what we watched it do.

From the social media buzz to our constant phone calls and emails from excited participants, we had the privilege of watching PX Week move from a mere idea to a true success exemplifying the strength of the global patient experience movement. And for a small, mission-driven organization like the Institute, the power in those five days was substantial. We were excited by every idea, photo, video and email that came in. As we work daily to be a community of practice for professionals passionate about improving patient experience, we believe last week exemplified our heart, soul and mission.

Dozens of #IMPX photos were sent in from individuals and teams, representing medical practices, hospitals and vendors (click on the image above to zoom in and see some of the faces in the #IMPX mural). Several healthcare facilities added their videos to the #IMPX video library, organizations issued press releases to educate their communities about their patient experience efforts, and flyers, thank you cards, screen savers and even placemats reinforced the importance of the patient experience movement to those delivering care each day.

Hundreds of organizations participated in PX Week webinars where industry leaders discussed the current and future states of patient experience.  In addition to sharing ideas from the community and offering expert perspectives, we were excited to make several new announcements throughout the week: 

  • PX Body of Knowledge – After two years of development, the first five courses in the PX Body of Knowledge were released, representing the community-developed foundation for effective patient experience leaders. Over 400 individuals from 10 countries contributed to this work.
  • PX Journal - The inaugural issue of Patient Experience Journal (PXJ) was published, an international, multidisciplinary, open-access, peer-reviewed journal focused on understanding and improving patient experience.
  • PX Learning Bites – We released the first in a series of patient experience learning bites - videos featuring industry leader’s insight about patient experience improvement in 2-3 minute segments.

All of these things represent the power of the patient experience movement – the advancement possible by the sharing of ideas, knowledge and practices and the community of professionals willing to contribute.

With this reflection on PX Week, we recognize and want to reinforce that the work to impact and improve patient experience is not something we just do in one moment, one week or one initiative.  The members of the Institute community and those in healthcare around the world committed to this effort are working tirelessly each and every day to ensure the best in patient experience. We acknowledge, encourage and remain steadfast in our support of these efforts.

As we anticipate the next Patient Experience Week, April 27 –May 1, 2015. We encourage you to mark your calendars and start planning your festivities now, but more importantly, we hope you will join us on the continued journey to create the best possible experiences for patients, their families and caregivers. 

Stacy Palmer
VP, Strategy and Member Experience
The Beryl Institute

Tags:  community of practice  employee engagement  global healthcare  healthcare  improving patient experience  patient  patient engagement  Patient Experience  PXweek  service excellence 

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