Tag: Patient Experience

purpose sign graphic from stamp & chase

Have we lost the power of purpose in health care?

Understanding purpose in organizations seems to be one of the most talked about issues – and opportunities – in companies today. A few weeks ago, 181 CEOs who are part of the prestigious Business Roundtable signed a new statement on the “Purpose of a Corporation.” No longer is simply driving shareholder value the top priority, they said. Rather, the statement recognized that the purpose of an organization in management is key in engaging and serving all stakeholders: customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders. Haven’t we always understood purpose in healthcare? Many in health care would argue that we’ve always understood the purpose of our organizations in management. After all, can there be a higher purpose than serving our fellow human beings at some of the

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Through a patient’s eyes, is “precision” medicine truly “personalized” medicine?

In the cover story “The Future of Medicine” in the January issue of National Geographic magazine, journalist Fran Smith and photojournalist Craig Cutler explore the remarkable promise of gene research and treatment. “It’s a very simple principle,” commented Razelle Kerzrock, an oncologist and director of the Moores Center for Personalized Medicine, in the article. “You pick the right drugs for each patient based on the tumor profile, not based on a part of the body or based on what type of cancer 100 other people have. It’s all about that patient sitting in front of you.” Precision medicine. Individualized medicine. Personalized medicine. The breakthrough treatment options made possible by gene research are already being branded by a number of different creative names. But while these

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America’s favorite doctor offers remarkable insight into how to improve communication

Enlightening perspective on how to improve the care experience for patients sometimes comes from unexpected places. It might not surprise you to learn that one of America’s best-known, most-beloved doctors has authored a book that provides great insights into how to make communication in health care better – until you learn that that doctor is Hawkeye Pierce. Since he retired as the head surgeon in the 4077th M*A*S*H unit on the iconic 70s television series, Alan Alda has devoted his time and intellectual energy to more than just acting and directing. During the 11 years he spent interviewing scientists for the documentary series Scientific American Frontiers, he became fascinated with how people communicate effectively. The results of his subsequent research are shared in his new

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Sometimes Silence Isn’t Golden: Improving Patient Engagement by Encouraging Openness

Like most of our experiences in life, the patients and families we remember best are the ones whose satisfaction with our care falls at the extremes.  On one hand, the family that is effusive in their praise is one everyone likes to remember.  At the other extreme, we can’t forget the families who are disappointed and seem to be critical of virtually everything we do.  Even months after they’ve left the hospital, the experience of dealing with them is indelibly burned in our memory. While the families at the extremes of the satisfaction scale may be most memorable, the majority of the patients we care for likely fall somewhere in the middle.  These are the families that come and go rather quietly, neither sharing significant

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Five Sure-Fire Ways to Wreck Rounding

Over the past decade, health care leadership rounding has become a best-practice staple for organizations that are striving to improve patient experience, employee engagement and the overall culture of performance. While in healthcare we sometimes act like we invented the practice, it has been pursued in different forms for many years in other industries. If you are a disciple of Lean Manufacturing and the Toyota Production System, you call it “going to the gemba.” Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard coined the term “management by walking around” in the 1960s when their rapidly-expanding technology company was growing beyond their capacity and ability to be involved in every detail of the business. In health care, our name for the practice of going to where the most important

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Everyone Can Be a Caregiver (Even a CEO!)

Several years ago I was leading a management workshop at a very large health system. With over 200 people in the room, there was spirited discussion about the opportunities and obstacles to improving the patient experience in the system’s hospitals. I noticed one of the leaders patiently holding her hand up near the back of the room and made my way back to give her the microphone. She hesitantly started, “I’m the director of Environmental Services, and I know we don’t have a direct impact on patients’ care, but ….” While I hated to interrupt her, I just couldn’t let her opening statement stand without a polite challenge. “I’m really sorry, but I have to interrupt,” I respectfully said. “I have a list of stories

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Powerful Advice for True Patient Advocates: “Thou Shall Not Stand Idly By”

During this year’s graduation season, my alma mater Washington University in St. Louis published a brief but compelling article titled, “A decade of lasting lessons.” Recalling meaningful advice from commencement speakers and honorees over the past ten years, the article offered counsel from personalities ranging from retired Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa to “Meet the Press” moderator Tim Russert (who sadly passed away just one year after his speech to Washington U. graduates). While all of the quotes were powerful in different ways, the life advice of two courageous speakers struck me as especially important for those of us who profess to be patient advocates and say we are committed to improving the patient experience. From Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel in 2011: My commandment is,

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Medical employee holding patients hand

The Ultimate Compliment for Healthcare Providers

It was almost nine o’clock in the evening when I finally arrived at my hotel in Indianapolis from a long day of meetings and travel in preparation for the full-day workshop I would lead the next day. I was tired, but I was also hungry. I asked the front-desk clerk as I checked in if there was a place nearby where I could still get a quick bite. She pointed across the lobby and said, “I think Joan over in the bar can still get you something to eat.” The bar at the suburban hotel where I was staying was not exactly a hot spot on a Monday night. There were only two other people at a small table talking when I walked in and

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In patient experience work, there’s no “Silver Bullet.” But are you trying to keep too many plates spinning?

In a recent blog post, I argued that the problem of searching for a single, easy-to-implement patient engagement tactic goes beyond the fact that one doesn’t exist. Believing that a simple silver bullet strategy is out there actually stymies continuous improvement, innovation and effective implementation. So if there is no single silver bullet, one might reasonably jump to the conclusion that a shotgun approach – implementing multiple solutions simultaneously – would produce better results. But that strategy has real flaws, as well. When I was working closely with the Experience Team at Ascension Health several years ago, we termed it “initiative fatigue.” In other words, teams were trying to launch and sustain so many different initiatives to improve care that they lost focus. It felt like

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US army man with dog on leash

“Loyalty is everything!”

Loyalty. Such a noble trait that we seek and deeply value in our closest friends, family members and colleagues at work. When used in a business context, it is usually preceded by “customer” and is a primary goal of the marketing strategist. But it wasn’t a marketing strategist who proclaimed “loyalty is everything” for health care providers earlier this year at the Executive Dialogue sponsored by the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development. Michael Modic, MD, Chief Clinical Transformation Officer for the Cleveland Clinic, passionately left participants with this advice at the close of the two-day program focused on breakthrough ideas to transform health care. Loyalty is an interesting concept to consider when thinking about the relationship between a patient and his or her

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