Posted By Julie A. Snow,
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2017
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As a patient, it can be uncomfortable and overwhelming to stay in a lonely hospital room with a seemingly neverending stream of unfamiliar faces coming and going throughout all hours of the day and night.
Hospitals can do a lot to improve the patient experience. One simple, yet surprisingly effective way to do so is by simply taking the time to introduce the patient to his or her care team professionals. This one act can improve a patient’s familiarity with their care team members, enhance their awareness of what to expect from each member and increase their confidence in the care that is being provided. When these things happen, the doctors, nurses and other hospital staff can also feel more connected with and more committed to providing the best care possible.
With both patients and providers quickly establishing a relationship with each other, patient satisfaction with their overall hospital experience can improve drastically while hospital staff feels more fulfilled in their work. It becomes a win-win situation.
Improve Patient Familiarity with Care Team Members
A team-based approach to patient care is widely used by hospitals. This is to ensure the best care possible for each patient. When the team is optimized by being composed of staff members who are working to the highest level of their expertise and abilities, the following can be accomplished:
- Patients gain enhanced access to a team of experienced professionals
- Patients are more satisfied with their stay
- Care will see improved levels of quality, reliability, and safety
- Hospital costs will reduce
If there is a downside to using a whole team of rotating professionals, it’s that the patient may not be given much of a chance to establish a relationship with each team member. This delays or reduces the chance for trust to be built. However, by keeping patients regularly updated on not only the name of their care provider but also their photo, title, and qualifications, it is easier to build a higher level of trust in a shorter amount of time.
Increase Patient Trust and Confidence
So what happens when patients are more familiar with the background, qualifications and certifications of each team member who is responsible for their care? Patients feel more comfortable in the hospital environment and even the confidence in themselves and their ability to heal is increased.
With this newfound trust and confidence, patients can become more empowered to voice their concerns, ask questions regarding their care plan or prescriptions and accept the advice of experts. After a patient leaves the hospital, they will be more likely to follow their doctor’s instructions and seek needed follow-up care.
A New Way for Introductions
A nurse can write his or her name on a whiteboard hung up on a patient’s wall, but now there is a better, more engaging way to make introductions. Hospitals are introducing their patients to care team members via an in-room television or even a digital whiteboard displayed on a personal tablet. This method has proven effective since the updates happen automatically, in real time, and patients are familiar with the format.
Easy access to information and enhancing patient awareness both play a big part in the encouragement of patients to open a consistent dialog with their care provider. A simple conversation can make all the difference in the health and wellness of a patient.
Patients are determined, more than ever before, to be fully engaged and educated in their own health care. By giving them the opportunity to be proactive when interacting with their care team, you are also giving them the opportunity to be more fully satisfied with their overall hospital experience.
Julie A. Snow is a health researcher and writer who has worked together with Sonifi Health to improve patient experience. When she isn’t working or mothering, you’ll usually find her in an Ashtanga Yoga arm balance or eating (sometimes both at the same time).
Posted By Jake Poore,
Friday, July 24, 2015
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In Jim Collins’ famous book "Good to Great”, he says ‘good is the enemy of great’. His premise is that we often settle or become comfortable with good or good enough instead of striving for more... reaching for the last inch that drives great experiences.
Great companies not only create experiences that reach more heights (or go the extra mile), they also seem to get everyone in the organization to deliver it, consistently... creating a culture of always.
If good is the enemy of great in business, then ’sometimes’ is the enemy of ALWAYS in healthcare.
- If we say, "we’re always going to knock on the patient’s door, wait for their reply, enter, make eye contact, smile, wash hands and introduce ourselves”, and we do this often, sometimes or even most times... we fall short of a culture of always.
- Imagine seven nurses care for a patient of over a three-day stay. If five nurses do these behaviors always and two don’t feel this is important and skip it, we’ve created a culture of sometimes – and again, we’ve fallen short on the journey to become a culture of always.
Unintentionally, I believe, we’re creating a silo mentality where everyone does their own thing. That’s a fragmented way to lead any organization. It creates chaos, dissatisfied patients (and employees) and ultimately, low patient satisfaction scores.
For today’s healthcare administrators, this isn’t just something that’s nice to do; it’s a must-do. Federal financial reimbursement is tied to CMS surveys. And these surveys only give credit for "always” answers. If your facility scores a 0 to 8 (never to sometimes), you get zero credit. Clearly, a culture of always means survival.
The popular phrase "culture eats strategy for lunch” rings true. If your culture is weak, how your employees perform their daily job tasks will trump any corporate strategy. You may have good intentions, but they’re only as effective as the integrity of your organization’s culture.
- Some doctors shake hands with patients; some don’t.
- Some sit and listen to the patient’s story before diagnosing; some interrupt within 18 seconds to "move along.”
- Some nurses introduce themselves; some don’t.
- Some offer to close your door for quiet from noise; most don’t.
- Some food service workers offer to help elderly patients open plasticware and milk cartons; others drop and run.
Besides doctors and nurses, the average patient interacts with more than 100 care team members along their healthcare journey including call center employees, front desk reception, volunteers, transporters, security, food service, housekeepers, etc.
If culture is what we do every day, and we aim to create consistency to survive and thrive in healthcare, then we must create new daily habits as a team so everyone is on the same page. The key is redesigning the culture with input from every employee group.
It seems everyone is admiring this problem, but nobody has a clear solution. The real problem is we’re throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it will stick. The solution is to no longer teach to the test as a long-term strategy. To get to a culture of always, we have to change our culture.
Patients are like the canary in the coal mine. They’re sending up warning signals of a flawed culture because, just like the canary, they’re most susceptible in a toxic environment. And make no mistake - they’re calling us out on things that poison the patient experience.
Through patient satisfaction surveys.
By telling friends and family about the level of care they received.
And by taking their business and their loyalties elsewhere.
*Hear more from Jake Poore about patient loyalty and creating exceptional patient experiences at the upcoming San Francisco Regional Roundtable.
As Founder and President of Integrated Loyalty Systems, a company on a mission to help elevate the human side of healthcare, Jake (@jakepoore) knows what it takes to create and maintain a world-class service organization. He spent nearly two decades at the Walt Disney World Company in Florida helping to recruit, hire, train and align their 65,000 employees toward one end in mind: creating memorable experiences for individuals, not transactions for the masses. In 1996, Jake helped launch the Disney Institute, the external training arm of Disney that sold its business secrets to the world.
Posted By Paul Westbrook,
Friday, June 12, 2015
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In the first article of this series entitled, "A Thin Line, The Nature of Care,” we discussed the inherent challenges discovered in our three-year patient experience transformation at Inova Health System. Our commitment to addressing those challenges, by focusing on hospitality principles was addressed. In the third and final section, we will present, "The Return on Hospitality,” indicating the objective and measurable success we’re achieving. Today, in this second installment, "Of Heads, Hearts and Hands,” the call of moving from the head – to our hearts and hands, from plans and strategies to actions and tactics is examined. As we get started, enjoy this quote:
"A person's most useful asset is not a head full of knowledge, but a heart full of love… and a hand willing to help.” – Anonymous
As we commenced our journey of patient experience transformation at Inova Health System, our first objective was to re-examine strategies and tactics, of uniting heads, hearts and hands in fulfilling the Inova Promise. The initial SWOT analysis revealed sobering realities and opportunities for growth. Through the valuable introspection of the newly formed Patient Experience Transformation Team, it was determined that the most effective channels for change would be to re-inspire five core work streams. This system-wide evolution across core work systems continues today at Inova as we embrace and fulfill our promise:
"We seek every opportunity to meet the unique needs of each person we are privileged to serve – every time, every touch.” – Inova Promise
The Five Core Work Streams
- Culture.The heart of the matter of service excellence in healthcare is creating a culture that endures across all care areas and locations. With a passionate commitment to our promise, we embody a culture of making emotional connections. Where service is individualized. Where every action is built on intentionality and purpose – in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
- Communication.Information is power. Through open communication about mission and vision, staff members are empowered, have a sense of pride and see their roles as critical in the delivery of care. Leaders convey inclusion and respect by sharing insights through multiple channels such as recognition meetings, huddles, executive rounding, newsletters, blogs and other media. Consistent and cohesive communication is foundational to building a culture of shared values.
- HR Processes.To be the best, we strive to attract and retain the best. Through a combination of behavioral interviewing and setting the expectation early, we commit to attracting, selecting, orienting, on-boarding, rewarding/recognizing and nurturing the best people we can find, keeping a constant focus on the balance between talent and cultural fit.
- Leadership Development. Healthcare leadership requires clinical excellence coupled with interpersonal and administrative acumen. We foster well-rounded excellence in medical competence and leadership that invites and inspires and that is engaging, efficient and effective.
- Service Excellence. Our day-to-day engagements include developing champions and driving service essentials like rounding, white board completion and shift-to-shift handoffs. Moreover, we consider one another as internal customers and endeavor to pleasantly surprise each other and our patients with the unexpected anticipation of needs and desires.
The patient experience at Inova Health System embodies a three-stage effort of 1.) Approach 2.) Deployment and 3.) Results. As I’ve discussed the deployment of action through these five core work streams, the next blog post of this three-part series will present the results – results that illustrate a system’s integration of "heads full of knowledge,” and "hearts full of love and hands willing to help.” I will share results that show the impact of a system-wide transformation of service to those "we are privileged to serve – every time, every touch.”
*This is the second 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. Read Part 1 and Part 3 here.
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.