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Patient Experience Case Study - Keck Hospital of USC
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Improving Patient and Family Engagement by Getting to Know Patients' Stories

What was the challenge, opportunity or issue faced?

The problem our unit, the Neuroscience ICU at Keck Hospital of USC, was facing was the apparent disconnect between who our patients are and how we relate to them. Most of the staff knew the patient’s diagnosis and circumstances of why they are seeking care. Very seldom did we take the extra time to find out what our patient’s lives were like before they entrusted them to us. The focus on the pre-admission state was particularly relevant to our unit because most of our patients have altered mental status, are sedated and a experience change in personality post-op. The opportunity to interact with patients or their loved ones in an authentic manner exemplifies qualities essential to them.

What did you do to address it?

We created a tool called "I am Known" that consisted of a few short questions that were relevant to the patient so we could pay attention to those details during our encounter with them. We made the tool interesting and very easy to complete. We also asked for a photograph of the patient. The rationale is that when we see the patient in their "normal” setting, it encourages the team to see beyond their ailment.

Download the "I am Known" Tool

What were the outcomes?

Since implementing this tool in our unit, the most important result we have seen was how patients and families expressed a genuine appreciation for our interest in our patients' life experiences. The process of taking the information created an avenue to engage in an authentic dialogue that focused on the patient’s usual state of health. The tool provided a sense the knowing that we are all interested in getting the patient back to his or her normal lifestyle.

Some family members felt more at ease in leaving for the night because they were confident that our staff will care for the patient and meet his or her needs. Sometimes, the little things matter the most. Yes, you may need brain surgery, but there is some level of comfort when your caretakers are present and want to know why you named your dog "Snake.”

About Keck Hospital of USC

Opened in 1991, this ultra-modern facility offers some of the most sophisticated technology available. Among the hospital’s advanced services are neuro-interventional radiology, cardiac catheterization and interventional cardiology. Keck Medicine of USC is the University of Southern California’s medical enterprise, one of only two university-based medical systems in the Los Angeles area. As part of the university’s USC Health initiative, the medical enterprise encompasses academic, research and clinical excellence, attracting internationally renowned experts who teach and practice at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the region’s first medical school. The medical enterprise also includes the renowned USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the first comprehensive cancer centers established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States; operates the Keck Medical Center of USC, which includes two acute care hospitals: 401-licensed bed Keck Hospital of USC and 60-licensed bed USC Norris Cancer Hospital; and owns USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, a 158-licensed bed community hospital. It also includes more than 40 outpatient facilities.

About Neuroscience ICU 7SICU

16 beds with continuous EEG monitoring capabilities; PACS; electronic medication record, Neurology, neurosurgery, head and neck, and ortho-spine, World-renowned surgical team; pulmonary and neuro critical care management, RN-led daily patient rounds with neuro intensivist.

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