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On the Road - Patient Experience Conference 2014
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Patient Experience Conference 2014 – We are ALL the Patient Experience

Natalie McKay
April 2014

 Our On the Road series highlights dynamic conversation and the patient experience movement throughout the globe, which leads us to this month’s Patient Experience (PX) Conference 2014 in Chicago. With close to 700 participants from 10 countries and 42 states, this community gathering encompassed an energetic group of caregivers and nurses, physicians and support staff, patients and families, resource providers and many others who are all on their patient experience journey. We were excited to have members of Patient Advocacy Community of The Beryl Institute, formerly known as Society for Healthcare Consumer Advocacy, join us this year with the new inclusion of a patient advocacy track.

Community remains the core of our existence at The Beryl Institute as we aspire to be the global community of practice and premier thought leader on improving patient experience. PX Conference 2014 is much more than an annual event for our participants; it is an opportunity for dialogue and learning from others about the state of patient experience – how it works, why we need it and who can help. It is a time for coming together, sharing ideas, making new friends and professional connections. 

Our commitment is to create a dynamic space for members to convene, engage and contribute to elevating, expanding and enriching the global dialogue on improving the patient experience. Throughout the year, we’ve heard stories, new practices and proven research from over 20,000 members and guests. PX Conference 2014 brought some of these people together in one location to further the discussion that we are ALL the patient experience, no matter the level of expertise or the years in the field. 


Three pre-conference workshops set the pace for PX Conference 2014 as participants had the opportunity to hear from thought leaders focused on creating authentic relationships with patients and their families, working like service superstars and leading patient experience strategies to the next level. With 42 breakout sessions, a community dialogue and four keynote presentations, PX Conference 2014 speakers comprised the voices of patients, families, caregivers, hospital executives, physicians, consultants, nurses and industry leaders.

First Time Attendee Welcome

Over 300 participants arrived at the First Time Attendee Welcome prior to the start of the conference. They spent time sharing expectations and hopes for the week with their tables and then had a chance to ask questions to a panel of seasoned conference participants in a Q&A format. The panelists shared their thoughts on maximizing networking opportunities, getting more involved with the Institute and how to implement what you learn when you return to the office. Advisory board member Juan Luna suggested participants call their managers after each day's sessions to share some of what they learned and new ideas to consider. To see a large group of people so eager to learn more about how to get the most of the conference experience was rewarding to the work of expanding the patient experience movement. 

Conference Opening

President Jason A. Wolf opened up the conference with a welcome on building the field of patient experience and the power of choice in our everyday lives. With a brief message from The Beryl Institute's Founder and chairman, Paul Spiegelman, participants learned the meaning behind the "Beryl” name. Defined as a type of gem, Paul reminded everyone that they were considered a family of gems.

Keynote Presentations

Our keynote speakers brought powerful insights about their journey as they continued to address proven practices and the impact on patient experience. Dr. Bertice Berry had participants laughing and crying with her as she spoke about her journey to wellness in the eyes of her family. Rhonda Anderson challenged the group as she reminded everyone that engaging patients in care is about more than being nice. Dr. Joseph Michelli presented effective ways to balance the act of patient experience excellence while Brian Boyle told his personal story about his experience as a patient after a life-changing accident left him in a medically-induced coma for two months. The presenters touched on the physician, family and patient engagement aspect across all points of patient experience.

PX Collaborative

There was also an extensive framework of learning opportunities as Patient Experience Conference 2014 included a PX Collaborative space, which comprised AACH, IHI, Patient and Family Engagement Network and Planetree – the Institute’s sister organizations who share our commitment to patient experience improvement. Additionally, the Institute’s learning and professional development introduced the Patient Experience Body of Knowledge, a framework developed by the Institute’s community to identify the knowledge central to the role of the patient experience leader.

Networking Breakfasts

New at this year’s conference, two special networking breakfasts’ were made available to conference physicians and patient advocates. The purpose of the Physician Breakfast was networking and discussion to begin a conversation sharing physician’s ideas, strategies and to explore their role around the patient experience. Alison S. Tothy, M.D., Executive Medical Chief at the University of Chicago Medicine’s Office of Patient Experience, said the Physician Breakfast "was one of the most valuable parts of the conference.”

Patient Advocates at the Patient Advocacy Community Breakfast expressed excitement to be a part of the Institute and discussed ways to get more involved in the partnership as an individual at their facility and together as a community group. The Institute is committed to supporting all voices on the impact of patient experience. 

Community Dialogue

In addition, the community dialogue focused on the power of storytelling where participants were separated into groups for hands-on training. Facilitated by Wendy Leebov and Susan Mazer, the interactive session titled How to Mobilize the Power of Stories to strengthen your culture of engagement and Caring, presented a process and toolkit for participants to share compelling personal stories. Participants were given time to document their stories with several volunteering to read their personal and emotional writings with the group. It was a great exercise to connect attendees with the power of their personal influence on patient experience. Participants also left equipped to build the strength of storytelling in his or her organization.

Networking Reception

PX Conference 2014 provided networking breaks for participants to meet new healthcare leaders on the same journey to patient experience. Participants were able to connect with others, learn from similar experiences and meet exhibitors during this time. In addition, we invited everyone to join us for a Networking Reception and dinner at The Field Museum. Tables filled the main hallway as participants had choices from different buffet stations. This was a great opportunity for us to wind down, network and discuss the first day of the conference. The World’s Fair exhibit was also open to participants to walk around and explore.

We all have the choice to become an influence in the world of patient experience – the choice to be role models in our work and to signify the importance of patient perception. It is up to each and every one of us to shape the culture of patient experience and to acknowledge the need for more leaders in our emerging field. To bring together PX leaders from across the world to one community gathering speaks volumes to the work of improving the patient experience globally and to the commitment of defining the patient experience. We are the sum of all interactions, we shape an organization’s culture, we influence patient perceptions and we are across the continuum of care. 

Our community of practice reminds our members and guests that they are not alone. The Beryl Institute community exerts encouragement, accountability and teamwork. We believe there is unyielding power in our growing community, unwavering purpose in our expanding movement and unlimited potential in our emerging field. 

Jason mentioned this African proverb at the opening welcome of the conference, which rings truth in the power of our community: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Let’s go together.

Hear PX Conference 2014’s perspectives from some of our participants:

"This was my first Beryl Institute conference, but it will not be my last. I was more energized and engaged in the entire process more so than any other conference I have attended, and isn't that what our goal is with patients? Jason and staff were wonderful and I have continued to connect with others since returning home. Thanks again for showing everyone a tremendous event!” 

- Marshall Wile, Inova Fair Oaks Hospital

"This is one of my favorite PX conferences every year!” 

- Lori Strahm, Parkview Health

"Great all-around conference! I don't always leave conferences with tangible ideas, but I left this conference feeling energized and excited from the content of the breakouts, the energy of the keynotes and the passion and dedication of everyone I was able to connect with. Thank you Beryl Institute staff!!”

 - Jason Phibbs, Cincinnati Children's

"I thoroughly enjoyed the people I met that are all so passionate about this topic. I learned a lot and walk away energized to continue to improve the patient experience.” 

- Andres Valencia, DePaul University

"While I came away with some great tools to improve the patient experience, the greatest take away was the opportunity to spend a few days with other healthcare professionals who are as passionate about this as I am!”

 - Betty Schwarz, Dean Clinic

"For me, this is the best conference (in terms of my experience -- what I learn -- how you treat me) that I have ever attended. I brought three new people with me and they said the same thing.”

 - Sara Hockers, Holy Family Memorial

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