The Beryl Institute’s Patient Experience Conference 2012: We are the Patient ExperiencePosted: April 29, 2012
On Wednesday, April 25th, The Beryl Institute’s 2012 Patient Experience Conference in Fort Worth, TX began with an encouraging, visionary, and inspiring leader, Al Stubblefield, president and CEO, Baptist Health Care Corporation. In his keynote address – “Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Patient-Centered Excellence” – Stubblefield pointed out that a key strategic initiative in creating a culture of excellence is “changing the leadership culture by catching employees doing the right (rather than the wrong) thing.” Once transformation has been achieved, Stubblefield says that long-term excellence occurs by “doing the same things 10 years later that got us there (90th%tile in patient satisfaction) in the first place.” Similarly, in a breakout session titled “Achieving Patient Experience Excellence Through Cultural Transformation,” Qaalfa Dibeehi, COO, Beyond Philosophy, shares that the “key to sustained improvement in customer (patient) experience is emotional engagement.” “Creating a culture must be purposeful and strategic,” says Rhonda Dishong, Director of Customer Experience Design, Memorial Hermann Healthcare System. Continuing, Dishong encouraged attendees to “set clear goals/expectations, make sure staff sees what’s in it for them, and consistently reinforce it every day.”
On the second day of the conference
Fred Lee, author of “If Disney Ran Your Hospital” kicked off the day by presenting a challenging and impassioned reflection on “Going From Good To Great in Patient Perception.” In an industry obsessed with patient satisfaction, Lee unapologetically urged healthcare leaders to “stop talking about patient satisfaction and start talking about patient loyalty.” In other words, “focus on ‘Top Box’ scores!” Lee juxtaposed the service industry to the healthcare industry by stating that “hospitals meet the emotional needs of a family in pain, stress or suffering a tragedy together.” Therefore, “when speaking about ‘experience,’ you’re talking about the ‘emotional’ and not service. If we don’t meet the emotional needs of a patient in grief, all the service excellence in the world is just fluff!” Lee emphatically maintains that “hospitals are not in the service business. The role of healthcare workers is to pick up on cues from patients and family members and respond.” During a light moment, Fred Lee pointed out that patients are often given medications so that they don’t remember and then we send them a satisfaction survey. Laugh out loud! In conclusion, Lee reminded all of us that “the more we get to know a patient, the more we can give personalized care,” which is the key in going from good to great in patient perception.
Following lunch, Wendy Leebov addressed the full conference on the theme, “How to Achieve a Win-Win-Win: The Patient-Physician Dialogue and CAHPS.” Wendy shared two insights that made a powerful impression on me. The first was a question that Leebov quoted that was once posed by Tex Landis, M.D., medical director of Wellspan Hospitalists in York, PA, to provoke courageous conversations in healthcare. His question is, “What legacy do you want to leave?” That question is worthy of reflection by every human being as we connect ourselves back to our life-purpose and mission. The second was mention of the critical importance of mindfulness as a “pivotal physician skill.” Leebov defined mindfulness as “paying attention with purpose in the present moment without judgment.” I submit – and I am sure that Leebov would agree – that since every healthcare worker “is the patient experience,” mindfulness, therefore, is a critical skill not just for physicians but for anyone in healthcare, especially if we are going to personalize care, as Fred Lee encouraged.
At the breakout session “Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Service,” Lynn Ehrmantraut, Senior Vice President, Research and Quality, Avatar International and Julie O’Shaughnessey, Executive Consultant, Avatar International, shared seven elements of a service-driven culture and four cornerstones of an exceptional patient experience. Ehrmantraut highlighted that “many hospitals use ‘whack-a-mole’ approach. A problem pops up and attention goes there until next problem pops up.” Humorously, O’Shaughnessy shared a comic strip of the exact opposite approach. Ultimately, either approach flies in the face of maintaining a clear vision and focus, which are cornerstones of creating and sustaining a culture of service.
So that you do not get the wrong impression, while we listened and worked hard, we also had opportunities to play hard. On Thursday evening, and through the generosity of Beryl Health, Phytel and Vitals, conference attendees had the opportunity to visit Billy Bob’s Texas voted eleven times as the #1 country music club in the world and part of the original Forth Worth stockyards. With prodding by Jake Poore (actually had no choice in the matter!), I rode the mechanical bull. (No video will be posted! I’m still hurtin’!). Then, Jake and I engaged in a gun duel. Let’s just say that my gun didn’t fire – twice – and he shot me – twice!
On Friday and the closing day of the conference, the morning began with final breakout sessions. I attended the one by Hayley McCraney, Director, Patient & Guest Relations from UC Irvine Healthcare on “Hardwiring Service Excellence.” Two insights that deeply impressed me are the following: “One simple act of kindness can mean the difference between despair and hope” (Teresa Conk, Chief Strategy Officer, UC Irvine Healthcare) and “You are the author of your own reputation!” Hayley asked us, “What are YOU known for?” Both insights are worthy of more thought and reflection.
The closing keynote, Tiffany Christensen, whom I had the honor of introducing, shared a similar message to that of Fred Lee. Born with cystic fibrosis and having received two life-saving lung transplants, Tiffany spoke her powerful story from the vantage point of the patient. She reminded conference attendees that talking about hospitals as five-star hotels is a misalignment when we should be focusing on the betterment of patient health. After many years struggling with her illness, she said that in the face of death, she “was at peace – actually joyful – despite terminal illness when I realized that ‘I am not my illness.’” She invited attendees to consider bringing the voice of patients and families to the table through Patient Advocacy Councils.
Jason Wolf, Executive Director of The Beryl Institute, closed the conference with final comments and read a brief reflection on Our Deepest Fears, by which he challenged us to take this message home with us, “not play small” and instead “let our light shine.” He reminded us that each of us is the patient experience, and together, “we are the patient experience.” Watch the inspiring video and join all of us in reflecting on the legacy you want to leave in this world.