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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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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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Why Community Matters in Improving Patient Experience

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Wednesday, March 6, 2013

They say when someone mentions a Red Beetle – the automobile version from Volkswagen or "bug” – you go from not seeing them at all to seeing them everywhere you look. In a similar fashion my recent conversations on the patient experience have raised this sense of "everywhere” awareness to the idea of community. From as recently as our March 5 webinar on patient engagement to the final interviews I just conducted for our pending paper on the Voices of Patients & Families on Patient Experience, there is a recognition that while patient experience is built on the foundation of countless personal interactions, when pulled together it is a true community issue and, I would suggest, opportunity.

The idea of community aligns strongly with the definition of patient experience that asserts patient experience crosses the entire continuum of care. I need to reinforce from the perspective we hold at the Institute this is not just the continuum within the four walls of the clinical experience, but from the very first encounters someone has with your organization to the stories they share well after their departure or discharge. Where are these stories told and where do they live beyond the boundaries of what you can control? In your communities, in the voices of people that have either had encounters with your organization or who have heard the stories, true or embellished, about what happened within your walls.

This means to provide a true experience, you must think well beyond the physical nature of your facilities or practices to recognize the experience resides in the network of people that surround and are connected to your organization, both near and far. This is at its heart, the essence of experience. As defined, experience is all that is perceived, understood and remembered. Those perceptions and memories and the stories through which they are shared are not collected at your doors, but rather they flourish in the sunlight and in the air of the streets, towns, and cities around you. The experience you provide is a community story and one you must be willing to acknowledge and address.

But I want to suggest another angle on community as well that is as equally important in all I have seen. That accomplishing the greatest in experience is a true community effort. It is not just something that can happen at admissions or discharge, or in your top performing units or departments. It must happen across the organization or system. More so I strongly believe the essence of patient experience thrives in much bigger ideas of community, which is why we have worked so hard in creating a true community of practice in The Beryl Institute itself.

I continue to be amazed by the generosity of spirit and sharing that has been afforded by the safe framework of our community. The realization that in healthcare if we are to be about the patient experience, holding our cards close to our chest or believing our "secret” process is our competitive advantage, is counter to what we are all trying to achieve. As much as I admire systems and organizations big and small for what they accomplish, I can tell you from my travels and encounters around the world, there is no one secret to success. What I have seen as the greatest resource comes back to the idea of that red beetle – community. It is in our willingness to share ideas and practice, to be open to exposing where we may have been challenged and celebrate and disseminate that which drove success, through which we can all impact patient experience.

This is not just a lesson for those in the delivery of care, but for those that support it; the resource providers and vendors, from survey companies to technology tools. It is their willingness to collaborate and share in community through which even greater things can happen. While their distinctions may be in variations of a theme in process and clearly more on level of service and the personalities involved, the reality is that they too play a part in this critical community conversation. From leadership to the frontline, from the future to patients and families themselves, it is the spirit of community and through the action of community that we can ensure the greatest in patient experience for all the patients, families and yes the very communities we serve.

As we approach Patient Experience Conference 2013, and we bring our virtual global community together physically for a few days this April, we hope that we are all reminded that it is through our connections that we have the opportunity for greatest impact. It is in our collective efforts and shared learning that we have the clearest path to success. My hope, and my vigorous invitation, is to join us, join this community and our efforts at The Beryl Institute as member or guest; as caregiver, physician, administrator, resource provider, patient or family member and to be in conversation on what we can accomplish as a community, together. The greatest of opportunities will emerge when we find our collective voice and there is so much yet to learn from one another.

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

Related Body of Knowledge courses: Coaching and Developing Others.

Tags:  accountability  choice  community  community of practice  culture  defining patient experience  healthcare  improving patient experience  Interaction  Leadership  Patient Experience  Patient Experience Conference  patient stories  recognition  storytelling  voice 

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Regardless of U.S. Supreme Court Decision, Patient Experience is Central to the Future of Healthcare

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Thursday, July 5, 2012
Updated: Thursday, July 5, 2012

One question I was consistently asked in anticipation of last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision was what impact the outcome would have on the importance of patient experience. My response was unwavering; that if healthcare organizations are simply driven by policy or perceived political pressure they might want to reconsider their true purpose and very existence. Regardless of the outcome of last week’s decision, I believe the increasing focus on experience in healthcare is more than practical or pragmatic; it is central to the highest quality healthcare encounter.

This week I was posed the question again during a workshop I had the privilege of leading titled Shaping Healthcare Experience: The Power of Interaction. The audience included healthcare and service professionals from across Europe. The discussions that were ignited and the passion with which the participants engaged in the subject supported my belief that the effort to achieve excellence in patient experience is not simply a phenomenon in the United States or one simply driven by policy. This is also reinforced by the fact that over 23 countries are represented as members and guests of The Beryl Institute itself. Patient experience is a without question a fundamental and global discussion.

Whether it is global perspective or political or policy motivations, those of us engaged in healthcare in whatever capacity need to consider the impact of our work on the experience of patients and families. As I discussed in my workshop, we are all touched by healthcare in some way either directly or indirectly through family or friends. More so we are aware of not just the outcomes, but also the stories we take from those encounters. Those stories are comprised of powerful and important interactions – as suggested by the Institute’s definition of patient experience as "the sum of all interactions…” In the workshop I posed the question of which interactions are most important in the healthcare encounter. After a long brainstorming effort the realization was that every interaction from the most critical clinical interventions to the almost unnoticeable or mundane encounters collectively equate to the experience people have and all are equally important.

At their core, each of those interactions is about a choice. As healthcare organizations you choose how to structure processes or determine what behaviors and expectations to establish and reinforce. With this, healthcare organizations are also held to the individual choices their people make at every touch point across the care continuum. It is here where you may be making things more complicated then necessary. By focusing on policy or political constraints you overlook the simplest of human factors; that people most often want to do the right thing. What must be done as leaders is to provide the support, the environment, the culture in which the right choices can be made, the right interactions provided and the best of experiences ensured.

I hope we can shift the discussion on experience from "why” and "what”, from policy or politics, to understanding there is a fundamental choice to provide the best experience possible for our patients, families and guests. In the desire to engineer this process we overlook the basic fact that healthcare at its core is human beings caring for human beings. In recognizing this, you ensure patient experience is a central and driving force to a continuously improving global healthcare system. It just starts with a simple choice.

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

Tags:  ACA  choice  culture  defining patient experience  global healthcare  healthcare  improving patient experience  Interactions  Patient Experience  patient stories  service excellence  Supreme Court 

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Patient experience is as much about the patient, as it is the experience!

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My experiences over the last few weeks have challenged me to consider a critical context to the work we do in addressing the patient experience. Most importantly that we need to recognize that patient experience is truly two distinct words - patient and experience. I think it is easy sometimes for those of us on the healthcare front lines, and even in organizations such as The Beryl Institute, to turn our attention to the latter term, experience. Our efforts, processes and programs are aimed at issues such as reducing noise and responsiveness, cleanliness or post discharge, all of which are critical to providing a better experience for our patients…but in working so hard on experience itself, do we at times run the risk of overlooking the first term, the patient?

I had the privilege of addressing the Maine Hospital Association Summer Forumand while there heard from Tiffany Christensen – a provocative speaker from the patient’s perspective and a recipient of double lung transplants as a result of being born with cystic fibrosis. Tiffany reminded me that the patient is not simply the recipient of an experience we in healthcare provide, but rather the patient is a vital member of the healthcare team. We can catalyze the patient experience by ensuring the voice of the patient is involved in all we do and how we do it. If we simply remember, as Tiffany so eloquently offered, that we are truly "humans treating humans”, perhaps we ensure that the experiences we provide are more than business decisions; they are life decisions that provide for an inclusive, caring and positive experience.

Tiffany’s words stuck with me as I had the chance to hear more from the patient and family perspective at the Avatar International 2011 Symposium. While Avatar is an organization focused on providing survey data, they are clear in their commitment to placing priority on "Patient One”. Regina Holliday, a healthcare activist and patient family member, offered the story of how the patient journey sometimes takes place well beyond the attempts we make to provide a great experience. She challenged the audience by suggesting we sometimes forget the most basic question in providing care, what would the patient want? She also urged us to think less about rating scales, such as that for levels of pain, based on "smiley faces” and instead consider the very faces of the patients we serve to guide our actions. Regina’s story again reinforced the powerful context at the core of patient experience – we are truly humans treating humans.

If we use that as a central premise in what we do, we then must ask ourselves, who is our "patient one”? Who is that one individual or what was that one experience we have had as healthcare providers that shaped the way we want to provide care? What is the true experience we want to create as a result? What will we never let happen again or ensure always takes place as a result of this example? And then…how do we use that experience to shape what we do in ensuring the best patient experience possible?

My journey over the last few weeks helped me to get very clear that patient experience is as much about the WHO, as it is the WHAT. If we choose to start with what we do, we may miss providing the experience our patients truly need and as a result, we may fall short in achieving the performance outcomes or scores we hope to realize.

Every patient (and their family/support network) has a story. They are a life lived, a road travelled and a hope held. A great example of putting this story to work is our recent case study from CGH Medical Center on the Living History Program©. Patients are interviewed and a one-page life story is created. It is presented to the patient and their family as a gift; a copy is posted in the patient’s room, while another is filed in the medical record. Every caregiver is asked to read the story and find ways to improve their connectivity with the patient and the family. This truly represents making the experience about the patient first.

To achieve true excellence in patient experience requires a willingness to address both components equally. Beyond simply implementing the best processes or programs for a positive experience, we must ensure the patient is not just the focus, but an active part of all we do.

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

Related Body of Knowledge courses: Patient & Family Centeredness.

Tags:  improving patient experience  patient  Patient Experience  patient stories  service excellence 

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