Active Management and the Patient Experience With UC Medical Center CEO, Lee Ann Liska

If there's one thing Lee Ann Liska, CEO of University of Cincinnati Medical Center, can tell you about improving patient satisfaction scores, it's that taking on score improvement requires passion — and a lot of it.

image001Ms. Liska is a big believer in owning the satisfaction process. Recently she's put that passion and belief in ownership toward implementing a five-year corporate plan for both UC Health and UC Medical Center, in which one of the main points is to bring up satisfaction scores at UC Health as quickly and as effectively as possible.

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"It's important to make sure leadership is in the right place. If I don't own the patient experience initiative, then it doesn't become as important to everyone else," says Ms. Liska of her intense involvement in her hospital's satisfaction initiative. "Patient experience can be nebulous and confusing, so I prioritize leadership in that area so our providers can be the best they can be," she says.

Until recently, UC Health had been having trouble with moving patient satisfaction scores. When Ms. Liska took the reins at UC Medical Center in May, this began to change. Her efforts have led to the implementation of a new hourly patient rounding program for the hospital, one that has improved patient satisfaction scores by as much as 35 points in other hospitals.

The basis of the rounding program is simple: communication and transparency. When health professionals round at UC Medical Center, they use the Institute of Healthcare Improvement best practices, which means rounding is focused on patient needs. Each unit round consists of many iterations of something UC Medical Center is calling the 5P's: pain control, position, potty, personal items and psychological standpoint. Providers make sure to explicitly check in with a patient about each of these things during rounds. They are asked to put themselves in the patient's shoes to ensure they are conveying the proper empathy.

Rounding is supported by a great deal of behind-the-scenes information. UC Health used to review Press Ganey and HCAHPS satisfaction scores monthly. Under Ms. Liska's leadership, score review has become a weekly event and is broken down by units, which receive comments supporting the scores every Friday by noon. Monthly and quarterly score trend reports clear away any mystery as to how provider attention affects the patient experience.

Of course, helping providers put their best feet forward requires managers who know what tools providers need. To this end, in addition to improving data collection and distribution, Ms. Liska has reassigned team members to deal specifically with patient satisfaction and rearranged steering committees. Each hospital unit is checked and double checked for adequate support staffing and staff training. Managers attend leadership retreats to ensure laser focus in supporting and guiding their staff members. And everyone understands that accountability is the name of the game.

The effort continues to draw interest both inside and outside of UC Medical Center. "We have a momentum in spirit and energy surrounding patient experience score review," Ms. Liska says. "There is an appetite for this information among our providers."

Ms. Liska stresses that patient satisfaction improvement is best taken in context. "It's not about making patients happy; it's about improving the patient experience to improve positive outcomes," she says. "In the end, we like to say that working with patient satisfaction allows us to continue our core mission: to heal, educate and discover one patient at a time through science and compassion."

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