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We are the Patient Experience

Early one morning you find yourself rushed, focused on making it to the first day’s meeting in time. Within view, you notice an older couple appearing worried and seemingly lost, scanning a sign in hopes of finding the location of their scheduled appointment. Do you assist them and potentially risk being late for your meeting or zip by them pretending not to notice? Many of us have come across similar situations—it’s a common scenario that can take place daily in many of our facilities. However, we may all choose different ways to react. How you choose to react may play an important role in how our patients perceive us and their willingness to choose our services the next time they need care.

Patient-experience-column-final.pngThis week, EMHS member organizations—from hospitals, to primary care, to homecare, and everything in between—are observing patient experience week and our ability as healthcare workers to have an effect on our patients’ experiences. Created by the Beryl Institute, this annual event provides a focused time for organizations to celebrate accomplishments, honor our dedicated employees, and reinvigorate efforts to provide the very best experience to our patients. Like in the scenario above, this week highlights that we all are given multiple opportunities a day to make a difference in the lives of our patients, and it encourages us to be more mindful of how our daily interactions can have a lasting result.

Amy Cotton, RN, MSN, EMHS vice president and chief patient experience officer comments, “Whether you work directly with patients or support the care we provide behind the scenes, we all have a role to play in building the patient experience. Although this week gives us a moment to pause and reflect on our efforts, developing a strong patient experience is a daily commitment. We must be steadfast in our promise to provide every patient and visitor the very best in service with every interaction they have with us.”

Each touch point a patient has within our system from scheduling, to parking, how they are treated during their appointment, and how they engage with us afterwards has a lasting effect on how they perceive the care that we provide as a system. “They expect us to provide safe, high quality care,” continues Amy. “What they hope for is to be treated as an individual through a seamless and compassionate care experience.”

In an effort to provide member organizations with the tools and resources to drive improvement, the EMHS Patient Experience and Engagement System Team (PEEST), which includes patient experience experts from across the system, developed nine patient experience core principles and an easy to use curriculum focused on empowering employees at all levels to drive best practices in patient experience and engagement forward. Education, resources, and tool kits included in the curriculum can be found on EMHS’ robust Patient Experience and Engagement online portal. This portal also includes a discussion forum to engage employees in conversation about our successes or opportunities to improve how we interact with our patients. In the coming months, plans are also in place to launch a series of onsite workshops as opportunities for employees to further hone their skills in the area of patient experience and engagement.

Kathy Lirakis, RN, chief nursing officer at Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, has found the portal to be beneficial in her organization’s ability to foster a service-oriented culture. “It is very helpful to have an abundance of resources gathered in one easy to access place. With so many tools at our fingertips, the patient experience and engagement portal enhances our ability to develop a culture of service excellence here at Blue Hill. It also helps us to share what we have learned with our colleagues across the system and vice versa.”

In the coming months, departments are highly encouraged to explore the portal and come up with ways that they can further improve patient perception of who we are and what EMHS stands for. “Across the system we have pockets of excellence where employees have become shining examples of what it means to provide exceptional service. We also have areas we know we can do better. We must celebrate and share our wins and improve upon our loses. It’s important to keep the dialogue going year-round, learn from one another, and nurture a systemwide service culture.”

So, the next time you spot that lost couple in the hall, consider stopping to lend a hand. That one interaction may not only help them in the moment, but define their perception of who we are as an organization for years to come.

Do you know an employee who exemplifies an unwavering commitment to providing an exceptional patient experience? If so, we would like to hear from you! Share your story at yourstory@emhs.org. Your story may be the next one you see in Pathways!