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Patient Experience Case Study - University Hospitals
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University Hospitals Rainbow Babies
& Children’s Hospital

What was the challenge, opportunity or issue we faced?
Managing information shared at admission

Admission to the hospital is often unexpected and creates anxiety for anyone. For the parents of a child, the magnitude is multiplied. Taking in all of the information about your child’s health needs while attempting to adjust to the hospital environment is overwhelming. During the stress of the admissions process, retaining a barrage of information on hospital amenities and other information is highly unlikely to produce the results we intend. Patient’s families are distracted by worry and even fear, yet this is the time we most often introduce this important information. Where to park, discount options, visitor information, where to get food, where to find respite, how to make a service request, etc. - all of this information is very important, but ultimately is secondary to parents who’s main concern is the health and well being of their child.

It is not surprising that our Press Ganey Patient Satisfaction results and our own Family Advisory Council members clearly identified our opportunity here. Much of the information about our non-medical resources and support services resides in the standard admission packet of materials shared with parents upon arrival to the unit. The challenge is it is often never read until they have returned home and have the time to breathe, relax and review the information. Parent comments of disappointment with the lack of knowledge while they were at the hospital, about parking discount options, cafeteria and café food options, and our own Ronald McDonald Family Room resources, clearly highlighted a need for a different mode of communication and support.

What we did to address it?
The creation of a volunteer Patient and Family Ambassador role

A Volunteer Ambassador role has been created in the Patient and Family Services Department, including a consistent group of five Volunteers (some of whom have been parents with children in Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital themselves) who visit patients and their families with in the first 24 – 48 hours of arrival. The visit is a friendly welcome and opportunity to share information one on one with parents. It is also an opportunity to observe and indentify any additional personal or accommodation needs.

Through brief conversation, the Ambassador Volunteer is able to provide information tailored to the family’s needs about parent and visitor identification, food and relaxation opportunities in the Ronald McDonald Family Room, long-term parking discount options and a brief demonstration and explanation of the in room television system’s Housekeeping and Dietary Service Request options. This provides them with independent tools to meet their needs in these areas throughout their stay. Flyers specific to parking resources and the Ronald McDonald Family Room resources of food, phone and Internet access, biweekly chair massage schedules, and a quiet place to get away are also shared for future reference.

The Volunteer Ambassadors use a visit form to guide their information sharing and to log any needs related to communication with the medical staff, cleanliness of the room (observed or stated by the family) or patient food satisfaction. Printed on the log are pager and phone numbers for unit Charge Nurse and Head Nurse Managers so that the Volunteer Ambassador may provide them with a heads up to any immediate needs or less than desirable experiences shared by parents, for timely corrections. Copies of the forms are returned to the Patient and Family Services Director for review and the identification of additional amenity needs and system issues.

To support the Volunteer Ambassadors role, quarterly meetings with the Director of Patient and Family Services and the Volunteer Coordinator have been established. Each meeting includes a review of how the role is going and any additional supports needed. A guest speaker each quarter has been added, at the request of the Volunteer Ambassadors, to provide additional education and learning as these individuals field many question and hear parent concerns for a variety of needs beyond the basics that their role encompasses. They feel a need and a responsibility to be able to provide parents and families with information and suggestions of others on the healthcare team who may be able to support them.

What outcomes are we achieving?
Patients and Families are getting the information they need when they need it and the team has better information to provide superior care.

The quarterly Volunteer Ambassador meetings have provided an opportunity to edit the visit form to be more user-friendly and adding consistency to information sharing and gathering. A group in-service on the use of and the information available on the in room television system has been provided. Guest speakers have included the Vice President of Patient Care and Operations, the Patient Care Advocate, a Social Worker, and the Coordinator for the Ronald McDonald Family Room.

Most of all, the Volunteer Ambassadors’ sense of worthwhile support of our parents and families has created an ownership of positive first impressions and experiences, for parents and families. They are a part of our team and make a difference for every family that they touch.

Usage of the in room television Service Request option has increased month over month since the Volunteer Ambassadors have provided individual tutorials on their rounds. As well as, awareness and use of the Ronald McDonald Family Room and its amenities have increased.

Additionally, anecdotal feedback from parents and families regarding the Volunteer Ambassadors include gratitude for the friendly faces and important information sharing as well as the opportunity to talk and ask questions. Nurse Managers are grateful for the opportunity to know about family needs and to address gaps in service immediately. And, bedside staff appreciates the assistance with follow up on admission information regarding non-medical resources and amenities.

Overall, we have been more effective at both when and how we share information. With a simple, but important shift we have worked to meet the needs of our patients and families in a way that supports them and has allowed us to be even more responsive caregivers.

About University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital

University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital is a 244-bed, full-service pediatric hospital and academic medical center that is solely dedicated to the health care needs of children. A trusted leader in children’s health care for more than 120 years, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital consistently ranks among the top children’s hospitals in the nation. As the region’s premier resource for pediatric referrals, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital’s dedicated team of more than 1,300 pediatric specialists uses the most advanced treatments and latest innovations to deliver the complete range of pediatric specialty services to nearly 9,000 inpatients and 500,000 outpatients each year. Among the nation’s leading academic medical centers, University Hospitals Case Medical Center is the primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, a nationally recognized leader in medical research and education.

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