Posted By Paul Westbrook,
Thursday, June 4, 2015
Updated: Thursday, June 4, 2015
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The etymology of the word hospital indicates that it derives from two rather divergent concepts. The first is the Latin hospes, from which we get warm words like "hospice”, "host” and "hospitable.” The second, also from Latin, is hostis, the root for the rather alarming concepts like "hostile” and "hostage.” As the saying goes, "There’s a thin line between love and hate.” For us in the hospital profession, perhaps we also walk on a thin line.
In my work with a renowned healthcare system in Northern Virginia, I noticed that there are day-to-day elements surrounding us that seem both hospitable (hospes) and hostile (hostis) in the care environment. Hospitable concepts include ideals: emotional connection, welcome, compassion, service, intrinsic joy, extraordinary care, empathy and excellence. Seemingly hostile topics include realities such as: regulatory pressure, profit preoccupation, command and control, task driving, growth planning, provider centrism, compensation concerns, and too many patients and not enough time. Perhaps on any day, we might forgive ourselves when instead of acting as hosts, we catch ourselves treating our patients as hostages. When even small feelings of hostility supersede a spirit of hospice and warmth. Maybe and simply that’s the human nature inherent in the nature of care.
I came to healthcare from 27 years’ executive service with Ritz Carlton and the Marriott Corporation. In the hospitality industry, hospes should always prevail, yet often doesn’t. Again, human nature. Over the past three years, I’ve had the privilege of leading the transformation at Inova Health System in its desire to achieve patient experience excellence. The commitment, collaboration and the results are inspiring, yet have not been without their challenges.
Central in this transformation was our focus in examining 5 key work streams: Culture, Communication, Human Resources Process, Leadership Development and Service Excellence and inculcating these with hospitality principles. As noted, in our introspection, we found both hospitable and hostile elements, both the hospes and hostis.Again, human nature inherent in the nature of care.
Given the power of human nature and our propensities, especially under the many pressures that we face each day both on the business-side and the care-side of healthcare, how do we keep ourselves focused to "deliver the unexpected,” to provide "extraordinary care” and to experience transformation expressed in "service excellence?” At its base, perhaps such service requires a spirit of genuine intentionality, and if I can borrow a word from the hospitality industry, maybe it takes a spirit of "Concierge,” which etymologically means to act "with service.”
Hospitality and hospital share the same linguistic roots. Hospitality principles like making emotional connections, individualizing service, recognizing and celebrating success and striving for service excellence guided us at Inova in our transformation. Integrating these hospes ideals into our work streams helped us gain immediate and sustained patient experience success.
*This is the first piece of a special three-part guest blog series focusing on various components of patient experience excellence, including patient and family care, culture and leadership and employee engagement.
Paul is the Vice President of Patient Experience at Inova Health System. Prior to joining Inova, Paul began his service delivery consulting company, Westbrook Consulting, LLC, with the mission of transferring his 35 years of hospitality service in branding, strategic deployment, and operations to other service industries, to give back to his community and make a meaningful difference in peoples’ lives. Paul is also part of The Beryl Institute's Patient Experience Executive Board.
Posted By Martie Moore,
Friday, May 1, 2015
Updated: Thursday, April 30, 2015
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Today, we live in a complex healthcare world. And unfortunately, the excellent patient care always desired, sometimes gets lost in the chaos.
Yet every day, we have the opportunity to calm the chaos and bring to life what Patient Experience Week is truly about: aligning head and heart with compassion.
As Chief Nursing Officer at Medline, it’s my job to uncover new ways to help clinicians meet their patients’ needs. I spend a lot of time in the field talking with clinicians about patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes. For this week, I wanted to do even more. I talked with nursing students, the future of patient care, about aligning head and heart with compassion.
On choosing healthcare:
"I went to college to become a graphic designer. You were always trying to compete with the next person and it just didn’t match my personality, so I started seeking other opportunities. During that time, my grandfather was going through some bouts of cancer. We had good experiences and bad experiences with clinicians. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a nurse and provide patient care.”
Christopher Galloway, MSN candidate at Resurrection University in Chicago
On defining patient experience:
"To me, patient experience is the overall perception a person has about the care they received from a healthcare provider. No matter the diagnosis, if a person feels that they were well-taken care of, they will be satisfied.”
Julie Neske Bierach, Accelerated BSN program at Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College in St. Louis
On your first face-to-face interaction with a patient:
"I felt unprepared to handle that level of responsibility, making decisions that directly influence the well-being of another person who has put their faith in the health care system. Often times, patients value the things that you take for granted. My patient may not remember that I ensured her fluid status was adequate every day, but she was sure to thank me upon discharge for making sure she was warm each morning and had enough blankets and pillows. These experiences highlight the balance between the art and science of medicine.”
Jordan Gales, third year medical student at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine
On dealing with life and loss:
"For those that have ever met me, it’s no secret that I’m an emotional person. In nursing, this is almost a paradox—you need innate compassion and emotion to feel for each of your patients and their individual journeys in order to help them, but on the other hand, nurses deal with loss on a daily basis. And they must learn to move on, and not carry each lost patient with them or that can take a huge toll on them emotionally, mentally and physically. When I think about what I need to do to deal with life and loss, I know I’m the kind of person who will put myself in the affected family’s shoes and think about that person that was taken too young, too soon or too unexpectedly. It will weigh heavily on my mind, and more so my heart. Yet, I know I will bounce back, move on and let it go without forgetting the memories of these individuals.”
Lauren Cummings, third-year nursing student at the University of Iowa, College of Nursing
Martie Moore is chief nursing officer of Medline Industries, Inc. based in Mundelein, Ill, a leading provider of medical products and clinical solutions across the continuum of care. In this role, Moore provides nursing leadership for solution-driven clinical programs, delivers product development to enhance bedside practice and launches quality initiatives across the continuum of care. With what she learned during the nearly 30 years of clinical experience and extensive executive leadership, Moore now develops forward-thinking solutions and programs for those in the field today.
Posted By Kristin Baird,
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013
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Staff texting at work? There needs to be a policy. Employees
parking in prime patient areas? Make a policy. People walking past trash?
Create a policy. The problem is, policies are only as effective as their
enforcement and do nothing to engage the heart.
I was recently talking with a group of senior leaders about
their current culture. They were clearly frustrated and felt they had come to a
standstill. Things were not where they needed to be with regards to both
patient satisfaction and employee engagement. They all agreed that
accountability was their biggest issue.
The group talked openly about specific behaviors that were
problematic. As I probed into their frustrations, a clear picture began to
emerge. Each time one of them would identify a problem, someone would declare
the need for a policy. And each time, the rest of the group would agree that a
policy was the way to go. I observed this happen five times during the first
hour. I was curious to see if the suggestion of a policy was an isolated
incident or a pattern. It was clearly a pattern.
Indeed, accountability was a problem, but the leaders’
accepted solution was always to create a policy rather than address the behaviors
directly when proved to be misaligned with values or standards.
Let me be clear. There is a place for policies. Without them,
we would have havoc. But when striving for a culture of excellence, leaders
need more than policies. You can’t "policy” people’s hearts. I, personally,
would rather foster a culture where people take ownership and do things because
it’s the right thing to do rather than because it’s the policy.
Transformational leadership is a style that engages people’s
hearts and helps them feel part of the cause. To me, this is what is often
missing in the quest for service excellence. A lot of time is put into
establishing policies and executing tactics from a checklist of best practices,
but not enough effort is put into engaging people’s hearts.
Healthcare is a service industry. The work that happens each
and every day is perfect for cultivating a link to the heart. People working in
healthcare are typically caring individuals with a desire to make a difference.
The leader’s role is to harness this passion and help make the connection
between the "job” and the individual’s sense of purpose. Tell stories. Review
the history of the organization and the vision. Talk regularly about the
mission, vision, and values, and help leaders at all levels learn to speak the
language of these mission, vision, and values.
When the leader’s focus is on doing the right things for the
right reasons, the heart of the organization swells with pride and purpose.
It’s not the policies that will resonate with people’s hearts, it’s the
passion. Remember that creating and sustaining a culture of excellence takes
vision, structure, and, above all, a heart for service.
Kristin Baird is
President/CEO of the Baird Group, a healthcare
consulting and mystery shopping firm. The Baird Group works to improve healthcare
organizations’ patient experiences from start to finish, providing a thorough
assessment, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, training, and strategies
to help bridge the gap between brand promise and the current reality. For more
information on today’s guest blogger, visit baird-group.com.