Recently Facebook challenged its users to post a current and a ten-year-old photo of themselves side by side. While I didn’t participate, seeing the many photos of those that accepted the challenge, did get me to think beyond what I looked like ten years ago to how much can really happen in a decade. I also heard a recent commentary by John Dickerson, co-host of CBS This Morning. His position was that reflecting back even a decade ago can interject perspective. What perspective can we gain by looking back and reflecting on the last 10 years in healthcare?
My first job in healthcare over 35 years ago was as a Respiratory Therapist. At that time, employees were still allowed to smoke at work. It wasn’t until 1991, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) mandated that accredited hospitals go smoke-free by December 31, 1993. Talk about perspective.
Working in healthcare my entire career has come with many changes. Ten years ago, I was working for a large integrated healthcare system in southeast Wisconsin. It was another five years before I joined my colleagues at The Beryl Institute in the role of Director of Learning & Professional Development. My role within The Beryl Institute is not the only thing that has changed. The healthcare organization where I worked my entire career up until that point, doesn’t even exist today. It was sold and joined another organization approximately three years ago.
Looking at our past can bring perspective to the present and even give us hope for the future. Before becoming a member of The Beryl Institute in 2012 and attending my first Patient Experience Conference, I came across the Institute’s definition of patient experience. This community inspired and developed definition has stood the test of time and continues to be a core foundation in any conversation on patient experience. In fact, in the last 6 years US hospitals that now have a formal definition of patient experience has grown by 38%.
During my first conference experience with The Beryl Institute, I heard Tiffany Christensen share her powerful lived experience as a life-long cystic fibrosis patient having received two double lung transplants. Today, Tiffany is part of The Beryl Institute team in the role of Vice President of Experience Innovation and will be introducing the first inaugural Patient Experience Innovation Awards recipients at the Patient Experience Conference 2019 this April.
It was also during the 2012 conference that I was introduced to the Patient Experience Body of Knowledge Framework. While I had the responsibility within my organization leading efforts on experience, it was the first time I had seen a framework that outlined the knowledge and skills of healthcare leaders doing this work. This framework has guided the development of comprehensive learning opportunities including the ability to earn a Certificate in Patient Experience Leadership and Patient Advocacy. Today over 470 individuals have earned one of these certificates. These milestones demonstrate not only the Institutes’ commitment to the field of patient experience but the growing commitment within healthcare organizations across the country on supporting the professional development of their leaders and continuing to engage in efforts that have resulted in innovation in this field of practice.
Related to this milestone and another example of how things have evolved over the past ten years is remembering how my journey as a patient experience professional started. Like many, I was invited to join a system-wide committee within my organization charged with improving our patient satisfaction scores. This was not an uncommon beginning. In fact, when we first asked the question, “Who in your organization has the primary responsibility and direct accountability for addressing patient experience” (State of Patient Experience 2011), 42% of the respondents indicated it was by committee and only 13% had a dedicated individual leading their efforts. Since 2011, we have seen a significant increase in organizations reporting they now have a specific person in a dedicated patient experience role. In fact, 70% of US hospitals that responded to the study, now identify having a senior leader with this responsibility.
As I continue to reflect on the past ten years in healthcare and the patient experience movement specifically, something that is becoming more and more common today that was not seen ten years ago are individuals with the credentials of CPXP behind their names. CPXPs or Certified Patient Experience Professionals is a relatively new phenomenon in our industry thanks to our community and our sister organization, Patient Experience Institute for developing a path to certification. This endeavor has brought a level of rigor and credibility to the field not seen in the recent past. According to PXI, today, over 860 individuals now hold the designation of CPXP.
So much has happened in a decade with so much more to do. The ten-year challenge is definitely more than comparing two photographs from then and now. In this age of social media which brings the dynamic of immediacy, pausing and reflecting back does interject a perspective that reacting to the immediate can never do.
For example, the inaugural study, Consumer Perspectives on Patient Experience 2018 was an incredible journey into the lens of consumers across the globe and their view on patient experience. It profoundly reinforces that human interactions are most important when assessing their experience. That patient experience encompasses quality, safety, service and all that is experienced in any given health encounter. For those of us doing this work for a long time, on the surface, these two ideas might not seem like huge revelations but when we think about the conversations, we were having just ten years ago, these two ideas, that have become foundational cornerstones in the work of experience today, were still forming thoughts in our recent past.
Taking a snapshot of a moment in time can tell a powerful story but being intentional and purposeful of how we choose to move in the world will ensure we pass the next ten-year challenge. What are your hopes for the next decade? More importantly, what wisdom today will guide our actions tomorrow to ensure that the future of healthcare is what we know it can be?
Deanna Frings, MS Ed, CPXP
Vice President, Learning and Professional Development
The Beryl Institute