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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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Patient Experience is About More than Making Patients Happy

Posted By Deanna Frings, Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My dearest friend recently received news that her breast cancer is back after 11 years of remission. She struggles daily with eating enough to maintain a healthy weight, feeling strong and motivated enough to walk in the pool to build her strength, and to find relief from the constant pain. I’m not sure the word happy is in her vocabulary these days. But expressions of gratitude, a decrease in her anxiety, and a feeling of comfort are certainly emotions she has experienced when interacting with her healthcare team.

During the past several years in my various roles leading patient experience efforts, I have had frequent conversations with physicians, leaders, and clinical staff about what patient experience is, what it’s not and why these efforts are so important.

Some physicians express frustration about measuring patient satisfaction. After all, "It’s impossible to make every patient happy, why are we spending so much time and money sending surveys?” I have also experienced hospital administrators share their belief that if staff would just be nicer to people, the scores would improve. And, I have witnessed nurses and other clinical staff push back on patient experience activities saying, "We are not Disney, we are not here to make sure people have a good time, we are here to take care of patients.”

As I think about the evolution of the Patient Experience (PX) movement, I understand these various viewpoints. My PX journey began when the organization I worked for hired a consultant to teach the importance of customer service. After about 18 months, this turned into an initiative called "Service Excellence: Our Values in Action”. We continued on this journey for 5-8 years and recently the language and movement changed to what we know today as Patient Experience. I fully embraced this change, as it is a demonstration of applying our ongoing learning of what PX is really all about.

I don’t believe the goal of delivering the best to the patient and their families should be framed within the context of making them happy. I don’t believe patients give us the gift of their feedback, respond to a survey or write a heartfelt note because people simply made them happy. I believe it’s about so much more.

I tell physicians that patient satisfaction surveys do not measure patient happiness, but they can determine whether you listened with a compassionate ear as they expressed their concerns and worries.

I vividly recall reading a letter from the niece of a patient after her uncle died. She expressed her deepest gratitude not only for the care and compassion her uncle received but also for the care and comfort she received at a most difficult time in her life. The letter she wrote focused on the nurse who called to inform her that her uncle passed away in the middle of the night. This nurse went on to explain that he did not die alone. Hearing this brought instant comfort to the niece. Was she expressing happiness in her letter? Of course not. Rather, she was thanking this nurse for the compassionate way in which she shared this difficult news.

I’m not saying that in healthcare we should not be nice to people or that those simple courtesies are not important parts of the way we deliver care. What I am saying is that we must reach higher, go deeper, and deliver care in the most compassionate way. That is why I fully embrace the next evolution in our PX journey.

Fred Lee talks about this in his three levels of care framework. Wendy Leebov’s works with clinicians building their skill in compassionate communications and Colleen Sweeneyraises awareness in patient’s biggest healthcare fears in her Empathy Project.

Hospitals, clinics, outpatient centers etc, do not have the same goals as Disney. We must look beyond the happiness factor. We must comfort, care, listen and convey compassion in every interaction. That is what the patient experience is all about and why I’m more than happyto listen to what our patients have to say about their healthcare experience.

Deanna LW Frings
Director, Education & Professional Development
The Beryl Institute

Related Body of Knowledge courses: Patient & Family Centeredness.

Tags:  choice  defining patient experience  Field of Patient Experience  global defining patient experience  HCAHPS  improving patient experience  Patient Experience  perception  service excellence  storytelling  value-based purchasing 

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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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Why did you get into healthcare in the first place?

Posted By Stacy Palmer, Thursday, February 21, 2013

I can name a dozen places in our blogs, publications and case studies at the Institute that reference the idea of "reconnecting people to why they got into healthcare in the first place.” I love the notion. It inspires people to think about that moment in time when they realized that serving others during their times of need was important to them.

A few weeks ago I had the chance to connect with Kourtney Govro, Founder and CEO of Sphere3. Her story is simple yet powerful. She’s a busy mom of four whose career path changed when her son, Noah, at only six weeks old was hospitalized for respiratory syncytial virus. One afternoon little Noah vomited. Based on her experience of waiting over 30 minutes after pressing the nurse call button for someone to respond to the situation, Kourtney founded a company that helps hospitals track call light response times and offers consulting services to help those hospitals improve results. As a mom, I applaud her for experiencing a frustrating situation and doing something to help improve the processes that caused it.

For some it was a personal illness that led them to healthcare. I’m inspired by the story Tiffany Christensen shared in her keynote at last year’s Patient Experience Conference. Born with cystic fibrosis and recipient of two life-saving double lung transplants, Tiffany grew up in hospitals. She developed strategies and coping mechanisms but found the healthcare maze difficult to navigate. She decided to share the lessons learned along her journey and is now a patient advocate and delivers inspirational workshops to the healthcare community.

Others consider it a calling – not necessarily prompted by a particular event but maybe inspired by a family of healthcare workers or an innate nature to help people. I asked a recent nursing school graduate why she chose healthcare and her response was simple yet thoughtful. She said she loves to help people and if she can make a difference in someone's day, or ease their pain in some way, she’s happy.

Everyone has their own reason for venturing into this space. It’s in remembering those reasons – even when shifts are long, processes are overwhelming and frustrations are high – that we can pause and reconnect with that energy and passion to make a difference.

So, why did you get into healthcare in the first place? We know our members and guests are passionate, committed people, so I’m confident many of you have inspirational stories about your journey into healthcare. We invite you to share yours in this brief form. It may even be featured in an upcoming video or publication from The Beryl Institute.


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

Related Body of Knowledge courses: Employee Engagement.

Tags:  choice  Field of Patient Experience  global healthcare  healthcare  patient engagement  Patient Experience  storytelling  Tiffany Christensen 

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Tis the season! Storytelling: A Key to a Positive and Lasting Experience

Posted By Jason A. Wolf Ph.D. CPXP, Monday, December 6, 2010
Updated: Monday, December 6, 2010

Maya Angelou, celebrated poet, novelist and educator, is attributed with saying "There is no greater burden than carrying an untold story.” I would suggest that in healthcare (and in particular as we focus on improving the patient experience), storytelling must become central to what we do. It not only influences how staff translates ideas into actions, but it also creates a means by which patients, families and the community can engage with your facility.

In my recent On the Road visit to Memorial Medical Center, it became evident to me that storytelling was central to the hospital’s ability to translate the patient experience message to staff. Rather than lists of "must dos” or required actions, it was the stories that people most often remembered. In fact, one nurse manager suggested that it was the sharing of stories that gave power and life to the concepts being taught. Storytelling has become a central part of their orientation program and a foundational element in their effort to a greater patient experience.

Stories have been shown to have much greater impact than PowerPoint presentations, speeches or even well designed advertisements or promotions. More so, they have a lasting effect well beyond those efforts. Stories help people relate to a situation as if it was their own and help them to engage in ways that facts and figures do not.

Jay Conger, senior research scientist from University of Southern California, suggests some tips to storytelling in an organizational setting, that I believe make storytelling a powerful tool in your patient experience efforts. They include:

1.Keep it short: people tend to retain a story around 2 minutes in length.

2.Focus on 2-3 characters: this provides an opportunity to relate to the individuals involved.

3.Keep it simple: a story should be built around a single message that is clear and understandable.

4.Tell it in the present tense:this allows people to experience as if they are part of the story itself.

5.Build in visual images: people store and retain these images and give a story lasting qualities.

6.Repeat or reinforce a key phrase or concept: this ensures people are clear about the message you are conveying.

A story that I recently heard regarding the patient experience follows this model. This story serves as a great way to convey expected behaviors in a patient room without having to simply list required actions. A nurse enters a patient’s room and finds a spill on the floor near the bed. The nurse excuses herself and makes a quick call to housekeeping to have the spill cleaned. When housekeeping arrives the nurse points out the spill and asks the individual to mop it up. The housekeeper responds that it is just a few drops and that the nurse should have been capable to wipe this up herself. The nurse then argues in fact it was not a drop, but a spill, and therefore it was a housekeeping issue to deal with. As the two continue to argue, the patient grabs the pitcher of water on her bedside table, pours it all on the floor and asks them both, "it is big enough now?” Clearly the expected behaviors and the influence on a potential patient experience were conveyed very effectively through this simple, but powerful story.

There are also stories that reinforce the impact of positive behaviors. One such example was about a high school student who volunteers after school at his local hospital delivering meal trays. One evening the student volunteer was on his dinner delivery rounds. As trained, the student checked the hospital bracelet of the patient before leaving the dinner tray. As he looked up from the bed, he saw that the IV bag had a different name on the label. He immediately notified the nurses who were able to quickly make the appropriate correction. While this patient was not in any significant danger in this specific situation, it reinforces the importance of following protocol and how every individual plays a critical role in the overall experience of patients. By telling a story, we effectively convey this critical message and the lesson has a lasting impact.

At this time of year when stories are so prevalent - stories of joy, of hope and of thanks - there is no better time to identify and frame the stories that represent your facility or healthcare organization. What are the stories you tell about your patient experience efforts (or what stories should you tell)? I encourage you to share your story with us and hope to continue to collect them as we enter the new year. I invite you to attach your story below as a comment to this blog.

I wish you the most joyous of holiday seasons. Here is to a year ahead full of positive stories!

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

 

Related Body of Knowledge courses: Communication.

Tags:  patient experience  storytelling 

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