June 2013 MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
Mary Koloroutis, MSN, RN
Vice President of Consulting and Development
Creative Health Care Management
As Vice President of Consulting and Development, Mary provides executive leadership and support to the operations of Creative Health Care Management (CHCM) with a specific focus on the development of new services and publications and the mentoring and support of the consultant staff. She also provides consultation and education to health care organizations, both nationally and internationally.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR ROLE?
I think it’s a three-way tie: 1) As the editor and co-author of Relationship-Based Care: A Model for Transforming Practice, I am gratified when clinicians tell me that Relationship-Based Care (RBC) is alive and tangible in their daily work and that their care of patients is intentional and compassionate. 2)Re-Igniting the Spirit of Caring (RSC) is a three-day experience designed by myself and a wonderful team of people over 20 years ago. The purpose of the program is to re-connect clinicians with the power and purpose of their work and to inspire an organization-wide commitment to the sacred work of human caring. To date over 44,000 people have participated in Re-Igniting the Spirit of Caring, and leaders have identified it as one of their most successful interventions for cultural transformation. 3) In 2012, I co-authored a book about the therapeutic relationship with psychologist Michael Trout, entitled, See Me as a Person. Therapeutic relationships are at the heart of Relationship-Based Care. This book and the workshop that supports it help clinicians achieve authentic human connection. My hope is that the work I do in partnership with my colleagues in promoting humane and compassionate care will support and honor caregivers and help them connect with their very best selves and the joy, meaning and important purpose of their work.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU ARE CURRENTLY FACING?
In the drive to improve the patient experience, I believe we need to remember that while customer service principles can help create a more aware and hospitable environment, customer service is not enough. When people are sick, suffering, and experiencing trauma or life altering transitions, they need knowledgeable and compassionate clinicians who will help guide them through their experience. It can be very tempting to sink resources into a quick fix. Tactical approaches to human relationships can have the unintended consequence of separating clinicians from those in their care. From a patient experience perspective a detached and automatic approach to care is isolating. I have had clinicians tell me that they are afraid of "not doing or saying it right” as they are being monitored and expected to implement specific tactics. I think it is critical that clinicians worry less about saying the right thing and more about being present, thinking critically, and rendering the right care. In order to create a culture in which there is knowledgeable and authentic human connection happening between patients, their families, and a care team, the culture has to be one in which all human beings are respected, valued, and treated with dignity. It is a culture in which the relational aspects of caregiving are understood and developed with as much care and discipline as are the instrumental aspects of caregiving.
WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON THE FUTURE OF PATIENT EXPERIENCE?
As we move forward, I think it is vital to differentiate customer service from therapeutic care. Excellent therapeutic care is that in which clinical professionals understand the illness experience and are therefore responsive to the person’s emotional and spiritual needs. Therapeutic care is knowledge-based and focused on helping people cope, find meaning in their unique experience, and take ownership for their own health and well-being. As the world of health care grows in complexity, caregivers must become "scholars of the illness experience,” which requires talking to, listening to, and learning from people who are experiencing illness, injury, and loss. Emotional safety must be a priority as it is intrinsically linked to the prevention of harm.
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN WHEN NOT WORKING?
I love to spend time with our six grown children, their lovely partners and our five grandchildren. I love to read, take walks and travel with my husband, Michael. I also enjoy playing with our delightful chocolate labradoodle, Mr. Higgins.
WHY DID YOU JOIN THE BERYL INSTITUTE?
The Beryl Institute’s commitment to convening thought leaders on the patient experience is aligned with my passion and commitment to inspiring humane and compassionate cultures of care. The information, education, and research reports generated through Beryl are cutting edge and of high value. I love being associated with a community of people committed to achieving the best, most compassionate, care possible. It gives me hope that together we can create a health care system that is devoted to treating all people with compassion and respect while fiercely safeguarding their dignity.