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The Leaders Perspective: Is the Secret to the Patient Experience… Associate Engagement?

Thursday, April 12, 2018
Leigh Reisberg

Leigh Reisberg

The secret to the patient experience is associate engagement. Might seem a little weird, I know, but just go with me on this.
 
Who do patients and families first come into contact with when they arrive at the hospital/facility? What about when they register? How about during their stay or visit; whether it’s inpatient, outpatient, NICU or ED? And finally, who says “Goodbye” OR bids farewell to patients and families when they are discharged or leaving? The answer to every question is… associates! When our associates are feeling engaged, happy and taken care of, their patients and their families do too. 
 
I work for Advocate Children’s Hospital (ACH) in Chicago, Illinois. We have two main hub campuses in Oak Lawn and Park Ridge, and they are 40 miles apart. We are a relatively young children’s hospital that was created by bringing together two adult locations where pediatric services were provided. In the last 2 years, we have experienced reorganization, growth, turn over, and a recent transformation that has been taxing on everyone’s team. However, I feel that based on the success of 4 Hope, a general pediatrics unit in Oak Lawn, we have some tips on how to make all associates feel valued.
 
The manager of 4 Hope made several valuable discoveries by performing purposeful associate rounding and taking the time to listen to her team’s concerns, needs, and wants.  She found that, overall, they had five basic desires; fair treatment, consistent practices, appropriate staffing, recognition, and monthly staff meetings.  With this knowledge she was able to make simple but very impactful changes.
  • Through 1:1s, it was discovered that several Assistant Clinical Managers (ACMs) were interested in pursuing other opportunities. This lead to new ACMs with new energy and a different perspective on managing the unit.
  • To provide a forum for recognition, the manager collaborated with the Unit Based Council to create an “Associate of the Month Board” to be hung in a public area.  The winner was voted for by their peers and their positive comments were posted for all to see.  Patients and family members were then inspired to start adding their own comments about the associate!
  • Associates created a staff-run Patient Satisfaction Committee to more fully address unit-specific findings.  Using a combination of survey data and first-hand experience, the Committee was able to successfully tackle some common patient concerns.  For example, when families were having a difficult time locating the unit exit because of architectural design, the Committee requested arrows and signage to aid in wayfinding.  This was so successful that other units in the hospital requested the same signage!   
In 2017, the 4 Hope team was transformed from a minimally engaged, low performing unit, to a highly engaged and high performing unit. 4 Hope exceeded their target mean for Q 4 2017 and will do it again for Q 1 2018. The manager gave her team the encouragement and power to be fully engaged. She listened to their concerns, made some strategic changes, and ultimately made them feel cared for and supported. The 4 Hope team successfully demonstrates how engaged and happy associates lead to engaged and happy patients and family members.  

Tags: communication, patient engagement, teamwork
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