Some of the biggest challenges of managing the patient expereince at The Polyclinic include getting time-stressed physicians to try new ways of organizing their visits or changing the understanding of the visit from physician-centric point of view to a patient-centered one.
Having a great patient experience starts by putting the patient at the front and center of everything. “Our patients” are the words at the center of the logo we have for our Continuous Process Improvement initiative.
Whenever we start a process or start to drill down on policy or initiatives, we ask, “Does this keep the patient at the center?” “How does this affect our patients?” “Does this add value for our patients?” Our stated goal on that same infographic is “Every patient is completely satisfied with every interaction.”
We’ve gone about doing this in a number of ways. We monitor our patient-satisfaction surveys and comment cards closely, looking for areas that need improvement and responding immediately to complaints. Everyone on our staff has been trained in customer service, and each employee is observed monthly to demonstrate that they are continuing to follow the principles of the training. We use the tool developed by Sharp Reese-Steely called AIDET (Acknowledge, Introduce, Duration, Empathy and Thank You).
As Medical Director for the Patient Experience, I partner with our CEO to keep the clinic on track in matters
of patient experience, identifying opportunities for improvement, and sustaining our growth in this matter.
Pretty much everything we do touches the patient experience, so our Patient Experience Committee, which
meets several times a year, has staff representatives from every department in the organization, as well as a number of physicians. It’s the only committee we have with this breadth of membership.
In the last year, the committee chose our patient-satisfaction vendor, worked on improving our patient-education materials,and researched the variety of ways we can listen to the voice of our patient.
Another example of our work to manage and improve the patient experience is our partnership with Physicians Insurance to implement an Apology and Disclosure Program. Whenever there is an adverse event or medical error, as soon as possible we disclose to the patient what happened, offer an apology when appropriate, and then do what we can to rectify the situation.This always includes an analysis of what happened and why with process improvements to prevent future errors.
With the help of Physicians Insurance’s Dr. Ron Holfeldt and their Risk Management department,we recently trained 40 persons in the clinic in coaching skills for apology and disclosure. We’ve even started a physician curriculum for communications skills, and I am available for coaching individual physicians who want or need more help. At most of our larger physician meetings, we have a short presentation on various ways to improve the patient experience. This might be a short video on empathy, a presentation on how to position the computer in the
exam room, or a review of the Disclosure and Apology Program.
In my work with physicians, some of the biggest challenges include getting time-stressed physicians to try new ways of organizing their visits or changing the understanding of the visit from a physician-centric point of view to a
Great patient experience is as much a mindset as intentional project work. The more we remind ourselves to keep the patient at the center, the more effective we are doing just that.