Anchoring patient experience into caregiving culture
As we worked with the Northwest Michigan Surgery Center (NMSC) to develop their patient experience initiative, we knew that we would need to introduce this logic into their culture in order to turn our theories into shared stories.
We asked a group of internal Champions (self-selected from across the organization) to help us understand how this would work best. They suggested a "landmark event," something that staff could reference in the future.
But before the event began, we had a lot of ground to cover:
- We developed a graphic theme and materials to introduce the launch event
- Posters were hung throughout the facility and invitations were sent to each staff member's home address
- We designed SWAG, to be handed out at the event, that would remind staff of the event in multiple ways
- The CEO reached out personally to the physician owners, surgeons and others who were also invited to participate
STARTING THE CONVERSATION
The NMSC Champions were initially unsure how to position this event with staff in advance of the launch; given the scale and infrequency of an all-staff event, internal conversations and speculation abounded. We designed a pocket-sized card containing four relevant speaking points, distributed to Champions and others who had participated in the process. They used these to assure staff that the launch event would be a celebration, as well as a way to build awareness of each person's role in the patient experience.
PLANNING THE PRESENTATION
The Champions group also worked closely with Connect_CX to develop the speaking points in the presentation. Given their role as the “cultural thermometer” for the initiative, they were vital to building shared understanding at the launch event. Members of the team provided research used in the presentation, reviewed an initial and revised draft, and participated in a timed run-through of the presentation before the big day arrived.
AUGUST 29, 2017
The staff and stakeholders assembled at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, MI. Primary points from the presentation:
- Why are we doing this? Because PEOPLE are the focus of all we do.
- Who has designed this? Leaders from throughout the NMSC culture
- Patient Experience is defined as "the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization's culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care" (from the Beryl Institute)
- A review of research exposing gaps in communication that cause patient & family dissatisfaction
- The process of gathering information, then distilling it into a form that can be easily understood within the NMSC culture
- A description of various tools that had been designed as prototypes, then tested with patients and referring physicians
From here, the staff understood that it was up to them, every day, to work together to improve the patient experience. Knowing that this will take some practice, we also introduced the infrastructure that will allow them, as individuals with specific skills and responsibilities, to participate in the process of improving experiences.
This event signaled the end of the beginning; we'd built a shared awareness of the experience from the patients' perspective, and identified each staff member's role in the context of that experience.
Patient experience is not a project. It's a WAY OF BEING.
— NMSC Launch Presentation
FROM CONSULTANT TO COACH
Throughout the process, we've compared our role as consultants with that of a coach training a runner for a marathon: we've shown them what the experience looks like, given them tools and techniques to prepare, and worked alongside them as initial prototypes were tested and approved. However, we will not be able to run the marathon for them. That requires investment from each department, each individual as they work together to accomplish their goals.
With ongoing coaching from Connect_CX, the NMSC patient experience initiative continues to grow throughout the organization. Monthly touch-base meetings with senior leadership, bi-monthly Champions meetings and three new Process Improvement groups are looking closely at ways to improve internal communication by helping everyone understand their role in the context of the patient experience.
In doing these things, we've created an internal infrastructure to allow change to grow organically rather than imposing it from the outside. Working together, NMSC staff now have the tools and procedures necessary to:
- Improve the health of the caregiving system every day;
- See patterns that encourage or inhibit excellent experiences;
- Unlock proactive, targeted changes from within their own culture; and
- Adapt and adjust as conditions change.
“We never would have gotten to this point without Connect_CX providing the discipline and insight that have helped to craft our patient experience initiative. They've been the catalyst for forming multiple groups aimed at transforming our caregiving culture for staff, patients and families.”
— LoAnn VandeLeest, NMSC CEO