Leadership Excellence Across Patient Experience II

Leadership Excellence Across Patient Experience II December 14, 2021

In this Q-LEAPx (Leadership Excellence Across Patient Experience), CEO and Co-founder Edward Shin, MD sits down with experts on patient experience to discuss best practices.

Meet the experts:

  • Ruth Manna, Associate Director of Patient Experience Partnerships at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, NY
  • Rebecca Asmussen, Project Manager at Mount Sinai Health System, New York City, NY
  • Michele Pirkle, Vice President of Patient Experience at Grady Health System, Atlanta, GA
  • Naiomi Jamal, MD, Chief Quality Officer at Swope Health Services, Kansas City, MO
  • Kate Newbold, PhD, Director of Digital Design and Customer Experience, Beacon Health System, South Bend, IN
  • Naomi Meyer, Patient Experience Lead at New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York City, NY

What Practices Work?

According to Meyer, getting back to the basics has been imperative. She says, “We use the triple A: Acknowledge, Apologize, and Amend.” This means that instead of taking things personally, validate someone’s concerns, take responsibility for the situation, and offer a solution. She explains that even checking in with a patient who’s up against notoriously long waits can help the patient experience. Meyer also explains that giving staff timely feedback keeps them proactive and motivated.

Dr. Jamal adds that, especially in the age of Covid-19, it’s important to consider the needs of the staff––not just the patients. “When we say marginalized populations, I think what people don’t realize is that it’s not only the patients that you’re serving, but it’s also your own staff. I think that any responsible health center kind of makes an effort to hire from the community.” Hiring diverse staff that are aware of the social determinants of health, and then providing for their unique needs, since they are coming from populations most burdened by the pandemic. She says, “Recognize that, especially with regards to staff and going back to the patient experience, that they were also undergoing a lot of stress. When you’re stressed, the patients’ tempers were running short, people were irritable, and we really had to make an effort with our staff as well, obviously helping in social ways for both our patients and staff.”

The pandemic was also a learning experience for Pirkle’s staff at Grady. She explains, “I think that clinical staff realized the very vital role that loved ones and family members play in the care of patients. And I think when we had to shut down visitation, and family members were not here, particularly in some of the ICU areas, you began to see patients in almost a failure-to-thrive situation.”

From that isolation, frontline staff had to step up in ways never seen. “You absolutely have to have the buy-in from employees at a grassroots level of why we do what we do, and tapping into their hearts of what brought us to healthcare to begin with, and why it’s so important that we do what we do.” Reminding staff of their why in such a crucial time made a difference in patient communication. “I think if you can capture their hearts––being kind, being courteous, being respectful, providing appropriate communication––it all tends to come more naturally when we understand the reasons why we do it.”

Rewriting the patient experience during COVID has led to Beacon Health changing their mission statement in 2020. According to Newbold, “We actually rewrote our mission statement in early 2020 to account for that. So our mission is ‘We deliver outstanding care, inspire health and connect with heart.”

Along with Beacon’s mission came a new set of guidelines.

  1. Find ways to connect with patients and associates, which includes using plain language.
  2. Setting expectations appropriately, and being honest and transparent.
  3. Be on their team.

Which Practices Don’t Work?

By far, understaffing doesn’t work, since it puts the onus on a few dedicated––and tired––frontline staff members. That is why combatting nurse burnout is crucial to the patient experience. Pirkle believes that many organizations offer generic stand-ins for support, which ultimately aren’t meaningful. According to Pirkle, “I think that often administrators make the mistake of trying to figure out what [support] is for our staff members. And I think we have to just ask them, what is meaningful? We have to ask the frontline staff members what they need, and I have a feeling it’s not pizza.

Meyer confirms, saying that listening is a more valuable approach for fighting burnout, even if that means holding space for them to share their concerns about a healthcare system that is constantly in flux. After all, according to Meyer, “If you’re sort of denying the fact that more is being asked of everyone, I think that in and of itself can make someone feel that they’re not valued.”

Jamal explains that certain types of individuals are attracted to healthcare, and they tend to be the individuals who put their needs aside to complete tasks. “We’re asking our staff members, clinicians––really everyone within the healthcare setup, to do more and more with this idea, knowing full well that these individuals are very service-minded.”

Even prior to the pandemic, burnout rates for nurses was extremely high, as well as suicide rates with female doctors. Simply put, pushing staff to the max doesn’t work, even when they seem like they’re thriving. What also doesn’t work, according to Jamal, is “attempting to put band-aids on already stressful situations.” A better solution is getting to the root, with hopes of altering the trajectory of our frontline workers.

To learn more about best practices and how to improve the clinical and patient experience, watch the full-length webinar, and one of many others here.

View Full Length Webinar


Jill Yarberry

Vice President, Patient Experience

Jill has 20 years’ experience in healthcare business development and operations. Prior to joining Quality Reviews®, Jill worked in the healthcare industry where she has been responsible for developing and implementing the sales strategy, market research, and business development to meet and exceed sales growth projections.

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