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Whose experience is it anyway?

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, February 7, 2012
During two of my recent On the Road visits (one with Children’s National Medical Center and another for an upcoming story on Banner Health) what I observed and what came up in conversation caused me to pause and ask the question – whose experience is it anyway?

In one example, Kelli Shepherd, the Director of Service Excellence at Banner Good Samaritan Hospital, shared a subtle, but profound change in the language they were using. The shift was one in perspective – from "our” beds to "their” beds. A simple change, but one I believe challenges one of the central mental models I have seen in healthcare. We have often viewed patients as individuals that things are done TO, not necessarily done FOR.

I would not say we have turned healthcare into a heartless, mechanical process. Rather, I caution that what we may have done in not recognizing "ours” versus "theirs” is to design processes and systems and implement requirements and standards made to work best for us, not our patients and families. So what can we do to address this?

1. Clarify perspective. Are we building our programs, and even our patient experience efforts, from what we believe will best fit our needs? Or are we considering the perspective of patients and families as our guests? Stop and ask yourself, especially as you consider developing your patient experience effort, if the process is based on what is easiest for you or what is best for the patient?

2. Build an active process to engage patients, families and the community at large in how we can provide the best experience possible. Many organizations are now using patient focus groups not only to gather feedback post experience, but also to design processes and programs. At Children’s National, Patient Family Advisory Council members are embedded in many departments. They review and offer feedback on processes and provide an open avenue to ensure a broader perspective is available in all planning; they have even participated in the redesign of units.

3. Find ways to show you "listened”. The biggest return on experience investment is ensuring that patients and families not only feel heard in the moment, but also that the experience they are having overall reflects their wants and needs. Find avenues to show you are listening; be transparent about the input you seek and when and how you can (or cannot) use it.

As many of us in healthcare call hospitals the "house”, we must acknowledge that we are welcoming patients and their families into "our” house as guests. Our efforts should be focused on ensuring we provide the best experience possible. To do so we must recognize whose experience it is in the first place.

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

Tags:  Banner Health  Children's National Medical Center  improving patient experience  Patient Experience  service anticipation  service excellence 

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The Power of Interaction: You are the Patient Experience

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, December 6, 2011

In looking back at 2011, I have touched on a cross-section of topics on the patient experience – from service excellence andanticipation to value-based purchasing and bottom line impact. This year has led us to heightened awareness of the impact performance scores will have on dollars realized and increasing recognition that the patient experience is a priority with staying power. The Beryl Institute’s benchmarking study, The State of Patient Experience in American Hospitals, revealed both the great intentions and significant challenges that are at hand in addressing the critical issue of patient experience.

Our research supports, and I fundamentally believe, that there is a need for a dedicated and focused patient experience leader in every healthcare organization. Yet in the midst of all this attention, we may have overlooked the most important component – the immense power, significant impact and immeasurable value of a single interaction.

What does this mean? Interaction is simply defined as a mutual or reciprocal action or influence. The key is mutual action; something that occurs directly between two individuals. No interaction is the same, but it requires a choice by both parties to engage and respond as they best see fit. In healthcare settings, be it hospitals, medical offices, surgery centers or outpatient clinics, there are countless interactions every day. The question is: are they taken for granted as situations that just occur or are they seen as significant opportunities to impact experience? Perhaps in thinking about experience as a bigger issue, the importance of these moments of personal relationship has been missed.

What this means for improving the patient experience may be simple. Rather than waiting for that one leader to build the right plan or for your culture to develop in just the right way, you each instead recognize one key fact – you are the patient experience. I acknowledge there is a need for a strong leader and a solid cultural foundation on which to build, but at its core patient experience is about what each and every individual chooses to do at the most intimate moment of interaction. If these moments are used as the building blocks to achieve our greatest of intentions, patient experience will be the better for it. As you look to next year, whether you sweep the floors or sit in the c-suite, the choice should be clear. In today’s chaotic world of healthcare, the greatest moment of impact may be in the smallest of encounters. It is here that the most significant successes be they for scores, dollars or care will be realized. Happy holidays to you all!

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

Related Body of Knowledge courses: Organizational Effectiveness.

Tags:  bottom line  Continuum of Care  culture  defining patient experience  HCAHPS  improving patient experience  Interaction  Patient Experience  return on service  service anticipation  service excellence  service recovery  value-based purchasing 

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Service Recovery Should be the Exception, Not the Rule…Consider Service Anticipation

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Mind the Gap” is a phrase most often associated with the Tube in London. I hadn’t thought about it before, but in fact these famous words help frame the overall service experience. They remind us to be aware during this critical part of our journey and help us recognize that someone else is being mindful of our experience as well. This raises the question, why do we focus so much of our time on service recovery when we could be focusing on ensuring the best experience from the start? Minding the gap should be about our ability to anticipate our customer’s experience prior to it taking place at all.

This past weekend I passed a sign hanging on a lamppost posted by the city of Edinburgh that immediately caught my eye. It read "We are aware this light is faulty and are working to repair it as soon as possible.” It then provided contact information for further questions. Through the use of a simple yellow sign, a service experience was framed. Here too, it was clear someone was being mindful of the experience.

What do these examples show us? They reinforce the opportunity we have in creating positive patient experiences by anticipating the needs of our patients.

My current On the Road visit is with Inspiration NW, a part of NHS North West in the United Kingdom whose focus is on raising the profile and importance of patient experience (story to be published in the September Patient Experience Monthly). This incredible team has been working on the very issue of actively anticipating patient’s needs versus always reacting to them. One powerful tool they have introduced is Care Cards. Care Cards support patients and their relatives in exploring how the emotional needs and care preferences of patients can best be captured, monitored and addressed in real time as part of a quality-led care experience. The process reduces the sense of anxiousness patients bring to the care setting and ensures a stronger and more proactive approach to addressing a patient’s overall experience. This too serves as an example of anticipating needs, a "mind the gap” moment.

Even with anticipation, there will still be times where service recovery is necessary. The key is to make this the exception, not the rule. I myself have been guilty of espousing giving staff members the freedom to act in addressing service recovery issues without pushing for another freedom; the freedom to act in anticipation of patient needs. If service recovery is about restoring trust and confidence in the ability of an organization to "get it right”, service anticipation is about creating moments where people are wowed by our transparency and understanding of needs and know we will do right for them from the start. By being in action well before recovery is needed we can mind the gaps in service that may arise, instead providing winning moments that ensure a lasting and positive service experience.

Where have you seen or implemented service anticipation? I look forward to seeing your examples.

Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D.
Executive Director

The Beryl Institute

Related Body of Knowledge courses: Service Recovery.

Tags:  improving patient experience  Inspiration North West  NHS  NHS North West  patient  Patient Experience  service anticipation  service excellence  service recovery 

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