Patient Experience Matters

As the final hours before Patient Experience Conference 2015 count down, I am reminded of the importance of the journey we have set out upon. When we work, as one community, encompassing a diversity of thought and experiences, on a cause so central to healthcare – the experience of all in our global system of care – only good things can happen. For so many committed to the best in experience for the patients, residents and families they serve – be they the almost 35,000 members and guests of The Beryl Institute Community, the readership of Patient Experience Journal from over 100 countries, the volunteer leaders and content contributors, writers, tweeters, caregivers and support staff around the globe – we often find ourselves in small pockets of people, likeminded in purpose and focus. Tackling this work in small bands spread far can at times be exhausting, even knowing you have the support of the thousands in our virtual community.

I, too, know that there is power in the ability to come together and recall the words shared by a participant in the closing conference discussion session we held at the end of our first patient experience conference now five years ago. (Yes, it was intimate enough we could all have one discussion.) That person stood, with the polished, but worn glean of a conference well spent, of learning gained and new connections made, and said “I now know I am not alone.” It was a profound and awakening statement that has been a fundamental root of our last five years in growing the Institute community. First, that you, as professionals or as patient or family members, are not alone on this journey and second, there is a place you can come to connect, find support, contribute, be vulnerable, breathe, smile and grow. But more so, there is a special moment when you can do that with one another together at Patient Experience Conference.

I have heard some call the event a family reunion and others call it the recharge they needed from a year of draining work. In all descriptions, I have heard something underlying it all – Patient Experience Conference, while a “conference” in title, is nothing like any other healthcare conference experience you can or will have. Others may have summits, conferences or symposiums with the requisite healthcare structures, protocols and learning. From that we do not differ, but what you do find are the people and the connections that last well beyond just three days a year.

Since our first Patient Experience Conference, I have opened reinforcing that important point – that in looking around the room, the power of our time together is in more than lessons shared, PowerPoints projected or even compelling stories told. It is in the gift of being together, of those around you, and all you and they have to offer. When we spend the next three days in Dallas, that will happen once again. Together, we will create a gathering not meant to highlight one organization or a specific product, but rather bring life to an event that is committed to the very idea that is at the heart of the importance I mention above. Simply stated, patient experience matters.

It matters because it touches the lives of so many leading to quality, safe, service-focused encounters conscious of cost, committed to outcomes, open to all voices and intent on nothing but the best for all we care for from healing to the fate of spending one’s last days in dignity. You see, we are all the patient experience. So I, too, look forward to the next few days ahead, but in highlighting their importance, return to a point so central to our work. We are not in this alone, and there is a community to support you every day of the year. I am proud of what we – our community of committed leaders around the world – have created, humbled by the cause we have taken on and inspired by all I know we have yet to do together.

Jason A. Wolf, PhD
President
The Beryl Institute

The importance of invitation in patient experience excellence

I was talking to a member recently who asked what has been the key to our growth at The Beryl Institute over the last few years from an idea to a global community now engaging over 30,000 members and guests from around the world. My response came quickly. It is the willingness to ask – that is to invite people to participate, to get involved, to offer ideas, to provide input, ultimately to engage in our efforts and in this movement.

It was for both of us, a subtle, but profound moment, as the individual was struggling with how to move from mandating compliance to experience efforts in their organization to creating a sense of involvement and ownership for action. For me, I realized it has been a sense of openness to all ideas, perspectives and voices, the value of abundance I challenged us all to consider in starting this year, that has supported our own ongoing efforts to invite the engagement of so many of this journey. I too recognized in our conversation that invitation was not only an opportunity for growth, it provided a powerful idea for patient, resident and family experience excellence itself.

Invitation is a simple, yet profound act. It requires a strong sense of self-understanding, a willingness to be vulnerable and open to new discoveries. In offering an invitation we acknowledge the value of others and express our respect for and trust in their presence. More so invitations themselves are the seeds of new possibilities.

When I think about what organizations work to accomplish for those in their care at all points of interaction across the continuum, the greatest opportunity we may have is to invite. If we believe experience excellence is driven by both the engagement of the people in our organizations and those we care for, why just create opportunities for engagement and hope others respond? Rather we must create them and invite people to act.

How can we do this in healthcare today? For our own teams we can invite input on new ideas or participation in strategic efforts or even tactical planning. For patients, residents and families we can invite their participation in both personal and organizational opportunities. As individuals, we can engage them in their care planning, involve them in shift transition conversations or even post care decisions. Organizationally we can invite involvement in patient, resident and/or family advisory councils, we can engage people in strategic planning sessions or on operating councils or boards.

I believe there is a significant difference in hearing “people are just not engaged” if we simply work to create opportunities we hope people will take advantage of versus creating those opportunities and actively inviting participation. Yes, it is through inviting that we have the greatest of opportunities in creating cultures and interactions that will drive the best in experiences. How will you create opportunities for invitation in your own organizations for both whom you work with and those you serve?

In that spirit of invitation then I would be remiss in not living up to the response I offered my colleague. While there are so many ways to engage in the patient experience movement, first I invite you to consider joining us for Patient Experience Conference 2015. As a central community gathering for people committed to experience excellence at points all across the continuum of care and supporting those efforts, this event provides for a coming home and/or a recharging for some, and an awakening and/or learning opportunity for many others. More importantly it connects you with fellow travelers on this journey and committed to this cause from which to build lasting connections.

With that I too must invite you and your organizations to consider our most rapidly growing opportunity in the Institute itself, Institutional Memberships. These incredible connections have stretched the boundaries of the experience conversation in ways we could not anticipate and to corners of the world we could not imagine. It also reinforces the fact that the experience of those in our care is an ongoing and relentless pursuit and connecting to a broader community and support network can only help each of us be stronger. That is it, the power of invitation exemplified.

Many of you may have heard of Shel Silverstein, one of the earliest poets I digested as a child. And while seemingly focused on children in his writings, his message resonates for all of us. He wrote a wonderful piece called “Invitation”:

If you are a dreamer, come in
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by the fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!
– Shel Silverstein

There is incredible simplicity in the art of invitation, and yet it has the opportunity for unparalleled impact on all we do in healthcare today. I invite you to join us. Come in!

Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D.
President
The Beryl Institute

Understanding expectations matters to experience excellence

In a recent personal encounter shared by our Director, Member Experience, Michelle Garrison, she told a story of her own healthcare experience related to a surgical procedure and how it made her feel as a patient in the process. Her experience and insights reinforced a critical point central to the conversation on experience excellence – expectations matter.

I first addressed this issue in the Patient Experience Blog two years ago when I wrote:

“Expectations are powerful. They influence what we see, how we act, and the way we react. They stir emotions and create real feelings from joy to anger, surprise to sadness. The reality of expectations is that they present an intriguing paradox in how they can and do influence the situations in which we find ourselves. Expectations are an individual and even very personal experience, yet at the same time they can be set by organizations, businesses and other people outside of one’s self. This makes expectation potentially the most valuable and perhaps most precarious tool in the discussion of consumer experience and in healthcare, the patient experience.”

As Michelle shared her story, she reinforced an important point from her personal experience. She noted, “We are continually looking for the best methods to help prepare patients and family members by ensuring they know what they are likely to face when they visit with a doctor, arrive at the hospital, leave a healthcare encounter and beyond. By setting their expectations ahead of time, we help prepare them and give them the opportunity for the best patient experience. However, even with the most comprehensive of processes in place, there are going to be times when expectations are not met and the patient experience will fall short.”

This was a profound statement for me as I realized in Michelle’s words reflecting on her encounter that she felt the provider would have provided expectations. It also raised an important point, and I dare say an opportunity. That in providing the best in experience we must also be willing to ask the questions and take the steps necessary to understand the expectations of those we are caring for.

In talking about her experience Michelle said “I was not the best of patients. Though, I am pretty sure if you were to ask my doctor, the nurses, anesthesiologist and the others who took care of me, they would not have anything bad to say about my behavior or me.” In asking why she felt that way, she added,

“Here is where I fell short. I did not ask enough questions and the questions that I did ask were not the right ones. I was not as informed as I could have been about what was going to take place and how I would feel after the procedure, and so my expectations did not match the reality of what occurred. I was given instructions both before and after, on the procedure and what to do if there was a problem, but there was nothing about how to deal with the lingering after effects and how I might feel. I mistakenly thought all of the information I needed would be given to me without my having to ask for it, but it was not. Of course, I could have reached out to my doctor, but instead I did what I am sure a lot of patients do, I turned to the internet to see if what I was experiencing was normal.”

This statement is powerful and eye opening in its potential reflection of the way many other patients or family members may feel in the midst of the healthcare system and their own experiences. This is a significant realization we may often miss, that while patients want to engage, they are not sure how to participate or what to ask. Or they believe what they need to know will be provided so don’t think they even need to ask. In concluding her story, Michelle shared, “It is important to understand that patients and family members are not always going to ask all the questions they should or even the right ones. They may not know what questions to ask because they will assume, like I did, that the answers will be in that packet of paperwork they were given.”

I think we would all agree Michelle was not a “bad” patient, but perhaps quite the opposite, a patient that was trusting in the system to take care of her. Michelle’s procedure was successful and the system did its job, but the realization here is that there is an opportunity for much more. In many ways creating a process for clarifying and understanding the expectations of all participants in the care encounter be they patients or family members, doctors, specialists or support services and in doing so together could be one the most clear, simple and impactful ways to create the best in outcomes overall. Thanks Michelle for helping us to see and understand this point with greater clarity. You are the patient experience!

Jason. A. Wolf, Ph.D.
President
The Beryl Institute

Patient experience excellence requires moving beyond resolutions

In talking with an old healthcare colleague this week about our plans for the year ahead, she shared one of her New Year’s resolutions was to focus more purposefully on improving the patient experience in her organization. While an admirable intention and perhaps also shared for my benefit as she knows I focus on this effort, it actually caused me to take pause.

The statement had me wonder where in the priority list experience now rests for both individual leaders and organizations. The Beryl Institute’s bi-annual patient experience benchmarking study as well as other research continues to show experience remains a top priority in healthcare. But, as my friend’s statement raised for me, I began to question if this priority was a resolution or response based on something one thought they should say or rather a statement of commitment to purpose and action. 

As we start 2015, we can say with confidence that great strides have been made as we continue to push the experience movement forward. I believe there is a greater agreement on the importance of experience overall as a driver of better outcomes clinically, organizationally and fiscally. There is also stronger recognition in the power of patient and family voice and perspective and an acknowledgement of the need to align efforts around an integrated approach to quality, safety and service improvement. Also of significance is an increase in formal definitions of experience being adopted by healthcare organizations (a question we will explore again in the 2015 benchmarking study) and the associated focus on personal interactions and culture as reinforced by The Beryl Institute’s shared definition of patient experience. Finally we have seen a rise in the role of senior experience leaders, i.e. Chief (Patient) Experience Officers, system level VPs of Experience, etc.

In thinking about what these indicators of progress represent, they represent much more than resolutions, which are simple statements of intent. These efforts and the impact they are having reflect clear commitments to action and they represent tangible investments in time, people and resources. That commitment is what I have come to not only believe, but also see as the differentiator in patient experience excellence and success.

I am often asked the question ‘what should we do to improve patient experience in our organization’; in fact my colleague posed just that question after sharing her resolution. I could tell that she, as many others do, were looking for the checklist of practices, in order of priority, she could put in place to make a difference. My challenge to this question was reinforced in the very conversation and came back to what the growth of this movement has shown us all.

The tactics are clear, reasoned and can have an impact, but it is a commitment to something bigger that leads to the best in outcomes. Commitment is about purpose and intent, focus and strategy. It is about building a plan that meets your organization and those your serve where they are and works to stretch them all as partners and contributors to where you want to go. Yes commitment is a choice, which I find to be at the heart of experience success, and then smart choices can help you to identify the “what’s” we all are searching for.

As we look to the year ahead, I can say without hesitation that the patient experience movement continues on. We look to help guide this at the Institute through our own commitments: the growth of our resources and a global community now almost 30,000 strong, the continued support of research through the expanded reach of Patient Experience Journal and the development of professionals through new learningand formal certification. And I believe the movement continues on more so because of what choices you and your peers will make.

In committing to experience improvement, be it in physician practices or ambulatory settings, acute care or pediatrics, long-term care or hospice, you have moved beyond the idea of a resolution. Your choices, the ones you help others make and the ones you offer and honor are where we will build the next levels of our collective efforts. I, your team from, and your peers in the Institute community remain committed to keeping this movement progressing and together it will lead to even great things for the year ahead. Happy New Year to you all.

Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D.
President
The Beryl Institue

Reflecting on the Future of Patient Experience: Four Considerations for the Year Ahead

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The end of the year always brings a flurry of activity to finish what we set out to do and/or plan for what awaits in the year to come. It also serves as a time for reflection and looking ahead. This can be both an exciting and overwhelming exercise, but one that simmers at the core of our humanity, one filled with hopes and aspirations, commitments and goals. This is no different when we look to the very humanity at the heart of excellence in patient experience itself.

Dec2014_BlogI remain inspired by the exponential growth in energy, commitment, resources and interest in positively impacting the experience for patients, residents and families and for those providing care at all touch points across the continuum. Our commitment at the Institute remains to ensure this conversation continues to grow. I reinforce often that experience is not a fad, but rather it is fundamental to all we do in healthcare. It is both what we expect as participants in our respective healthcare systems and what we aspire to deliver in every encounter.

To support this in the last year we have expanded our resources and increased accessibility to The Beryl Institute. We have added both complimentary offerings, such as the new open-access and peer reviewed Patient Experience Journal (with forty new articles and commentaries this year) and community member benefits with PX Learning Bites, providing short educational insights into experience excellence. We have developed the core of the PX Body of Knowledge, our community developed framework of learning and development, and will offer twelve new modules before year’s end.

We have also expanded access to our community of practice in launching new Institutional Memberships, engaging thousands of individuals at all levels in healthcare organizations with a passion for patient experience improvement. We also have broadened the experience dialogue across the continuum with new content and engagement for Patient Advocates and in one of the fastest-growing segments in healthcare – Long-Term Care. And while these items were initiated in this year, they also represent a looking ahead and an investment in where we can go together as an experience movement.

This commitment, grounded in the contributions of our almost 28,000 members and guests in over 55 countries, is driven by four considerations I believe are central to driving patient experience excellence across care settings (and have been critical to our work in growing The Beryl Institute community itself). Consider these ideas as you look to the year ahead and your own experience efforts.

  • A mindset of abundance. Experience excellence is grounded in a spirit of generosity, in openness and access, sharing, and the active invitation to engage and contribute. It is the expanding of possibility and an understanding that rather than a zero-sum game, there is much to learn from and enough to spare for all; for those we care for and serve and for those with whom we work.
  • A commitment to inclusivity. The greatest opportunity we have in driving the best in experience is to ensure all voices are not only acknowledged, but also engaged and heard. In expanding our listening and the opportunity for contribution we open up possibilities we have yet to consider or even knew existed.
  • A focus on agility. In the dynamic world of healthcare and in our human environment in general, static state is now equivalent to falling behind and change in many ways is simply treading water. We must build the muscles of agility – the capacity to rapidly reconfigure and realign resources to lead new directions or shift as needed with the needs of our communities and the industry.
  • A drive for innovation. Excellence in experience may be best served by a vigilance to continuously searching for news ways of thinking, doing and disseminating ideas. This is beyond improvement of existing systems to look for concepts, constructs and practices that can lead us to new levels and to positive and lasting outcomes.

I offer these considerations as we look to the year ahead to suggest something significant. Yes, we have defined experience; yes, we are aware of the critical strategies and tactics that can frame and drive positive outcomes; but, if we are truly committed to a lasting and positive future in this work, we need to think not only about what we do, but also how we continue to stretch ourselves in doing it. The year ahead for patient experience will bring exciting new discoveries, powerful lessons and compelling stories that will move and inspire us to new levels. We do this not only out of passion, but out of our commitment to one another and the care we hope to provide to all.

I wish you all the best of holiday seasons, may it be warm and joyous as you connect with loved ones and friends. And as we look forward, here is to each of you for the positive impact you have committed to in caring for others and each other, as we continue this critical and exciting journey. I am honored and grateful to travel this road with you and anticipate with great excitement all that the days ahead will bring.

Jason. A. Wolf, Ph.D.
President
The Beryl Institute

Collaboration key to driving patient experience excellence

One underlying and powerful philosophy has driven all the work we have done at The Beryl Institute in the last four years. It is through the collective voices comprising our global community of practice that we generate ideas, learn and share with others. Through this collaboration both within the community and with others committed to this critical cause – the patient experience movement is supported, nourished, and will continue to thrive.

I have yet to see in any environment, the ability to achieve AND sustain success without a sense of alignment, collaboration and shared purpose. Organizations intent of fostering deep-rooted silos (or simply allowing them to exist) tend to reinforce battles for scarce resources and the pulling at an organization’s seams. In a movement as delicate and important as providing the best in experience for the patients, families and communities we serve, while also caring for each other delivering care, we must work in a much different way. I do not suggest competition is bad, in that it motivates innovation, expediency and progress, but rather that we must look to collaboration as a central capacity we should search for in our own organizations and those we choose to work with as we address patient experience excellence.

We have worked hard to model and encourage this through our work at The Beryl Institute. Our efforts have worked to bring disparate voices and perspectives together, such as our “voices” paper series that even included a paper with many competing survey vendors in onepublication. It has been seen in the various research we have conducted, events we have produced, learning we have developed and organizations we have worked to engage with or support.

The Patient Experience Body of Knowledge itself was developed by over 400 voices and included the engagement of central partners and experts in the experience effort such as the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care (IPFCC) and others. We have worked with the American Hospital Association to ensure patient advocates still had a professional home to continue expanding their rich history. We are expanding our engagement with key players in the physician practice and long-term care arenas to reinforce the fact that experience crosses the continuum of care.

From the collective voices that helped frame the very definition of patient experience, to our recognition that all voices matter on the experience conversation, we have worked to engage experience leaders and executives to front line staff, patients and families to resource providers, journalists to academic researchers. Our purpose is to not only encourage, but also model collaboration. We do this for the greater good of the movement and as an opportunity for all to consider in driving experience excellence.

If we are to continue to push the patient experience conversation forward, it will take the aligned efforts of many to frame, reinforce and progress the effort. It will take a reinforcement of the very values that have driven our work to date. You can consider the same as an opportunity in your own organization as you work towards collaborative success in impacting your patient experience efforts.

  • Ensure clarity of what it is you are trying to achieve. I maintain that definition and a clear purpose that is understood and shared by all is central to any patient experience success.
  • Find alignment in your efforts. What are the common causes you are looking to address? All too often we let competing interests shadow central needs that will benefit our organization and desired outcomes. Find points of purposeful action and move forward.
  • Actively engage all voices. Beyond simply creating the space for inclusion, is actively seeking, inviting, respecting and integrating all voices that may influence your work. There are multidimensional and broad reaching perspectives that impact experience excellence and we are best served by hearing them all.

While these values in action are fundamental to success, the most important thing we can do in addressing experience excellence is to take action itself. We must be mindful not to let the desire for or enactment of collaboration become the reason for inaction. It should and must become a means by which we all move forward on this issue together.

Collaboration in patient experience excellence is a local issue, one that must be managed by each organization striving for success. It also is a critical systemic opportunity. For in finding the strength of collaboration among organizations and ideas, we can support clarity, purpose and shared action that will ensure a strong and lasting focus on the experience of patients, residents, families and each other for many years to come. This may be healthcare’s strongest prescription for excellence. It is our job, together, to see it through.

Jason A. Wolf
President
The Beryl Institute

Encouraging Conversations on Patient Experience Excellence

pxblog1014In the last few weeks, I have been fortunate to join in a number of in-person conversations on patient experience improvement. From the gathering of patient advocates and experience champions in South Carolina, for the newly named Carolina Advocates for Patient Experience annual conference, to the impressive Patient Experience Summit put on by Dignity Health in Phoenix, that brought together over 650 front line caregivers and executive leaders in learning and dialogue on how to continue to their system’s trajectory to patient experience excellence. I also recently shared my experience with Value Health Partner’s collaborative dialogue in Michigan, bringing together peer organization’s to share ideas and address performance.

These gatherings and many others reinforce a simple, but important point. The conversation on patient experience improvement cannot and should not happen in isolation, but in dialogue with others across facility and organizational boundaries, and I would offer national boundaries as well.

I have come to see and strongly believe in two keys to patient experience excellence over the last few years on this journey. One, that there are ultimately no secrets in doing what is not only right for patients, families and our own teams, but also what is best for all involved. And two, answers to excellence in patient experience for you or your organization are not discovered in isolation, but rather in conversation with others. Then, as I have stressed on many occasions, the distinguishing factor is a willingness to do something about it – to commit, to execute, to follow-through and to measure your progress – all the while recognizing experience is not an initiative to accomplish, but an ongoing effort to ensure the best in quality, safety and service outcomes for all.

It is on this very premise that our work at The Beryl Institute has been built – that in convening people working to address this issue, to share successes and challenges, to reveal practices and co-create new ideas is fundamental to experience excellence. It fact it should, and must, sit at the very core of this movement. For this very reason we have built a highly interactive virtual network for our membership community, but more so strive to bring together people together regionally and globally for this very purpose.

In the coming month, starting this week in Boston, we will hold two Regional Roundtables. These events are built on the foundation of creating connection and learning from one another. Our focus on in-person connection is anchored on Patient Experience Conference, the largest annual independent, non-vendor or provider related, gathering of patient experience professionals, healthcare leaders, patient and family members and resource providers. Providing structured means for networking and sharing can only lead us to better overall experience for all in our healthcare systems around the world.

This might seem like a simple idea, but it is not always easy, so I’d like to encourage and maybe even challenge you to think about who you can connect with to engage in this dialogue. Some thoughts in taking advantage of the opportunities for excellence include:

  • Bring together individuals within your system to share ideas and practices. These can be small informal local or regional groups or larger system-wide gatherings.
  • Reach out to peer organizations regionally or globally. For example, peers in academic medical centers, rural healthcare clinics, long-term care residential facilities or children’s hospitals can connect virtually to explore and share patient experience ideas
  • Create local networks. Consider connecting with others in your city, county, province or geographic region (such as exemplified by the Value Health Partner’s example above) to connect in person and showcase practices and lessons learned. While competing for volume and excellence in patient experience can be a market differentiator, the ideas and practices you share will only ensure all are improving at this critical effort.
  • Engage in The Beryl Institute. I would be remiss not to extend our warmest welcome, invitation and encouragement to connect with peers around the world in the continuously growing dialogue on patient experience improvement in the Institute (and consider anInstitutional Membership to involve all in your organization).

All of these ideas do not cost much but time, and require the willingness of one or two individuals to step up, and invite others to engage in this important discussion. I am encouraged by the rapidly growing conversation on patient experience excellence and remain convinced that no one organization, vendor, consultant or otherwise should espouse or claim to have all the answers. But you, in connection with your peers very well may have many of the answer you seek, if you choose to do so together. We at the Institute remain committed to creating this environment, where you can both share and learn as we continue to serve as a hub for many other conversations that are, and can be happening, as we ensure the best in experience for all we serve. The next step is yours.

Jason A. Wolf
President
The Beryl Institute

Expanding the dialogue on experience excellence to long term care

When we first developed the definition for patient experience with a group of contributing healthcare leaders, four themes emerged as central to our discussion and ultimately to the definition itself – the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture,that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care. These themes shaped the fundamentals for action in providing the best in experience and I still see them as central and imperative across healthcare settings today.

Experience efforts are shaped through the interactions of all individuals involved and grounded in the organization’s culture through which they are delivered. It is the actions of all participants in the care experience – caregivers, support teams, patients and family members alike – that ultimately influence the perceptions of experience and create the lasting impact (and I suggest ripple effect) that each experience has. Experience is a partnership with patients, residents and families, not a doing to, and these words reinforce this critical point.

It is the last element of the definition that is also perhaps the most easily accepted:across the continuum of care. As the patient experience movement has flourished, there has been growing recognition that experience stretches well beyond the four walls of any clinical encounter or the physical structures of the acute care setting. In fact, the ideas of experience, in variations of language including patient, resident or person-centeredness, have permeated the wide array of care experiences one can have in healthcare today. This idea may be no better reinforced than the focus on the experience of individuals in long-term care.

The effort to provide a strong and positive experience for individuals in long-term care is not a new concept. This idea has been addressed in the dialogues of great institutions such as the former Picker Institute and now via Planetree and through organizations such as the Pioneer NetworkLeading Age and the American Health Care Association (AHCA). Partly driven by policy, such as we have seen sweep the US healthcare system in other segments of the continuum with the CAHPS efforts, and framed by what we know to be the right thing to do, long-term care has long been focused on the elements of resident quality, safety and service and the built environment to ensure the best for those in their care.

There is a growing understanding in all environments, that aside from the right thing to do for those in our care, or even a must do, there is also increasing policy focus and requirements that not only measure action, but also tie financial implications to them. Yes, we must acknowledge the financial implications of this effort as well, including the reality that individuals in the healthcare system at all points on the continuum are now consumers – people carefully select doctors, they make decisions on which hospitals to seek care and they look long and hard at the options in selecting a location for a parent or loved one to reside for long-term care needs.

If we accept choice is a factor now in healthcare, then experience matters. In focusing on the continuum of care, it matters to the patients, residents, people in our care, it matters to their families and it matters to all who deliver care as well. It is for this reason we continue to evolve our work at The Beryl institute to expand the experience conversation to all points on the continuum of care and to acknowledge the opportunities at the moments of care transition as well.

We have worked to engage broader voices in the physician practice setting by exploring how experience is being addressed byphysician clinics and groups and our events are expanding to include greater dialogue and content on the important practices taking place in the ambulatory and outpatient settings. With equal focus (and the support of energized and committed members of our community), we are embarking in expanding our efforts to address experience in the long-term care setting as well. In the coming months, through Patient Experience Conference 2015 and beyond, we will work to collaborate with leading thinkers and organizations to reinforce and expand the critical conversation of experience in the long-term care environment. This will include papers, webinars, conference sessions and expanding research into this area of the continuum.

We hope through these efforts and partnerships we can support the critical dialogue of experience at all points on the care continuum. We will strive to continue our growth as a community encouraging and supporting the dialogue among individuals impacting each touch point in the care experience. If we maintain that experience as defined truly crosses the continuum of care, not only is this a critical effort to take on, it is a must do in ensuring that the experience conversation – the critical confluence of quality, safety and service and the fundamental considerations of people, process and place – engages all and includes all voices. We are excited by this next stage of the experience movement and invite and encourage your thoughts, ideas and participation.

Jason. A. Wolf, Ph.D.
President
The Beryl Institute 

Become a Leader in the Patient Experience Movement

I recently received a note from a new member who is early in her career and looking for ways to maximize her membership to get “plugged in” to the Institute and gain credibility within the patient experience community. We get questions like this often. While passionate about getting involved in the patient experience movement, many of our members aren’t quite sure how to get started.

To help, I want to share the suggestions I gave her. I believe they are applicable for patient experience leaders at any stage. First, leadership is not about years of experience. It’s about influence (and willingness to contribute). While healthcare has been around for centuries, a focused patient experience movement is still taking shape at all levels of healthcare organizations. To “plug in” and be a leader, you need to do one thing – share.

The power of sharing is what The Beryl Institute community is built upon and in doing so people reap even greater benefits themselves. Leadership in our movement is grounded in a generosity of spirit and contribution, collaboration and openness.

 The Beryl Institute offers many ways for you to share and be active participants in the patient experience movement.

  • Get engaged in the conversation. That’s the best way to share what you’re doing and learn from others. We have Patient Experience Leaders and Patient Advocacy listservs that are very active. Be sure to sign up for those and respond to questions and/or pose your own. And when you find something that’s successful in your organization – share it through a case study.
  • Attend a live event. We have a very engaged, energetic community and they love meeting and brainstorming with new people. It’s also a great chance to find a mentor. We have two Regional Roundtables coming up in October – one in Boston and one in Seattle. And Patient Experience Conference 2015 will be April 8-10, 2015 in Dallas. If travel is a concern, you can talk to other members via phone on our monthly topic calls.
  • Immerse yourself in the PX Body of Knowledge (BOK). It’s a community-driven framework highlighting the 15 domains critical for an effective PX leader. We currently have courses available for 8 of the 15 domains with the other 7 coming soon. You can gain lots of information from other resources available through your membership, but I always recommend the BOK courses to people looking to establish a solid foundation.

One of our members recently commented that he views his involvement with The Beryl Institute as much more than a membership. He believes his engagement is a bigger statement supporting the patient experience movement. His outlook exemplifies the passion we see everyday from the community.

In fact, I am constantly amazed by the eagerness of our members to contribute, get involved and truly become leaders in the movement. With over 60 members on our boards and councils, subgroups like the Patient Advocacy and Physiciancommunities, and regular contributors to our guest blogcase studies and On the Road program, those desiring to be thought leaders in this critical movement have a place. You just need to choose to engage.

And for the many of you already involved in The Beryl Institute who want to do even more to support the movement, my advice to you is the same: share. One of the greatest ways to be a leader in the patient experience movement is to pass along a story, case study, research report or other resource that might inspire those around you to look at their roles differently, to see the impact they can have on creating the best possible experience for patients, families and caregivers. Simply, share.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”  – Robert Louis Stevenson

Stacy Palmer
Vice President, Strategy and Member Experience
The Beryl Institute

We Each Hold a Piece to the Patient Experience Puzzle

In my most recent Hospital Impact blog I wrote:

Experience is designed to fit your organization and the people in your care. No one provider, no one vendor, no one organization holds the ultimate answer to the experience riddle. The greatest successes I see are those organizations willing to pull from the best of all they can, across all the information available, to meet their unique needs. In proceeding, choose partners and resources that value and integrate your own organizational identity in any plan. That will take you the farthest down the path to experience success.

As I further reflected on those words, I was quick to see and acknowledge a bias I bring to this work. Over the last four years in growing the Institute and through the many years of my career before, I have come to not only value, but also see the true impact that collaboration and the sharing of ideas can have in helping “raise all boats.” Yes, collaboration in organizational life is designed to collectively “raise the tide”. It is something I have often seen a lack of in the competitive landscape of healthcare overall.

I am not saying I do not believe that competition is of value, drives creativity, resourcefulness and positive outcomes; in fact I have seen it do just that. Rather, competition in the critical areas of organizational life, particularly in healthcare and specifically in the experience we provide for patients, their families and our very own staff members is not the greatest path to success. Without question, competition has been a motivating factor in experience, one seen driving action as scores are publicly reported and actual reimbursements and other financial opportunities are at stake. This is of value as the attention given to positive experience leads to better outcomes and holds the potential for establishing significant market distinction.

Yet, what I suggest is that beyond this drive for distinction, the opportunity to learn from one another provides the greatest of potential outcomes for all. The challenge is not (nor should it be) around what to do, but rather your actual commitment to do something about it. I have not visited one organization or engaged with one audience yet that did not already inherently understand the fundamentals to success in driving the best in experience. (Note in discussing experience, I maintain it is the integration of quality, safety and service encounters.) The distinguishing factor I have continued to see is leadership vision and commitment, a willingness to invest and follow through, the right people focused on the right things and the openness to reach out, share successes and learn from others. It is this focus on execution that should (and does) drive true distinction.

This very philosophy, learning from one another, especially in the experience arena, is the central ideology on which The Beryl Institute itself is built. That in creating a true community of practice, with individuals and organizations willing to share their successes and open up about their misses and needs, we have the potential for the greatest impact in healthcare today. It is about creating an organizational experience where individuals, organizations and resource providers can bring new ideas to bear as you determine the best path forward.

While this is built into everything we do throughout the year, it may be no better realized than in the few days we spend together atPatient Experience Conference or at our Regional Roundtables each year. In these few days together, hundreds of people representing hundreds of organizations around the world come together, not to declare “their” way is the right way, but rather to share their ideas as they might work for you. In bringing together the greatest number of voices, open to the broadest range of ideas, you position yourself well for success. In fact with Patient Experience Conference 2015 already on the books, I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to share your ideas via a conference submission or ensure you have your attendance slotted for your 2015 budget. You also have two great opportunities to join us and our host organizations Virginia Mason Medical Centerand Boston Children’s for two great roundtable experiences.

Again, I come back to my words I shared above – no one provider, no one vendor, no one organization holds the ultimate answer to the experience riddle. I would offer they each hold a little piece of the bigger puzzle. If we are willing to engage in the dialogue, ask for what we need and share what we know, we are all better for it. Then, it is each of our jobs to ensure it is done and done well.

Jason. A. Wolf, Ph.D.
President
The Beryl Institute