Rounding revitalized: How Cleveland Clinic is integrating tech and the human touch to improve the patient and caregiver experience

For hospitals and health systems to establish long-term patient loyalty and achieve a competitive edge in the market, they must not only deliver safe, high-quality and affordable care, but they must also deliver a positive experience for patients.

The tricky part about managing the patient experience is accounting for variation in preferences and what patients deem satisfactory care. Despite these challenges, Cleveland Clinic has been able to succeed at improving the patient experience as well as caregiver satisfaction by integrating an innovative tool into the long-practiced clinical improvement process called rounding.

During an April 24 webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by Verge Health, Lori Kondas, executive director of patient experience at Cleveland Clinic and Mike DeSimone, senior vice president of strategic marketing and client services at Verge Health, discussed a solution that improved nurse and leader rounding to boost patient and caregiver experience across Cleveland Clinic's expansive network.

The need for innovation in long-standing clinical practices

While healthcare leaders sometimes need to be complete disruptors, bringing in a technology or innovation that's never been seen before, in many situations just improving a long-standing practice is beneficial, explained Ms. Kondas.

"Sometimes innovation is not always creating a bright shiny new explosion, but rather finding ways to adapt or build a good solid practice to meet the changing needs of not only our patients, but also our caregivers … Sometimes this requires just blending the human touch with technology," she said.

One widely known patient experience improvement practice in the healthcare industry is rounding. It can greatly increase safety, improve communication with staff and patients, and boost patient satisfaction.

Research conducted at the Cleveland Clinic exemplifies rounding as a key intervention tool. The research found that when hospital leaders, nurses and physicians rounded daily, the dimensions of the HCAHPS scores, including hospital ratings, nursing and physician communication, cleanliness and medication communication, improved.

However, despite all the benefits rounding brings to an organization, the practice itself could use a bit of innovation, explained Ms. Kondas.

An analysis conducted by Cleveland Clinic found that 90 percent of its nurses spent time resolving nonclinical issues, ranging from solving an issue with cafeteria food to putting in an order to fix a broken ceiling fixture or clean a bathroom.

As a result, the organization began looking at what strategies or technologies it could implement to give more time back to the clinicians, according to Ms. Kondas.

"We began looking at could we use rounding technology with the express ask that on the back-end of it we would be able to do service resolution," Ms. Kondas explained. "Could we put in [nurses] hands a way to round that they could very quickly indicate that there was a service issue and that the technology would send it where it needed to go and automatically escalate it to the right person so that nurses could move on and do the work they need to do."

Beyond ensuring work orders could be implemented into the technology tool, Cleveland Clinic wanted a tool that didn't take away from the human interaction of rounding, could track issues in real time and collect data on the documented issues.

To build the application that would ultimately improve nurse and leader rounding to boost patient and caregiver experience, the organization partnered with Verge Health.

The digital rounding tool + its benefits

Verge Health's patient experience rounding tool is a mobile-friendly application that captures issues in real-time, which allows caregivers to resolve said issues in a timely manner. The tool also gives clinicians more time to focus on patient care because it integrates with the EHR and work order systems. All together the comprehensive platform allows organizations to align people, processes and technology to drive improvements.

There are many benefits to integrating this digital tool into rounding, according to Mr. DeSimone and Ms. Kondas.

Here is a breakdown of four of them:

1. Streamlined workflows. Ultimately, the digital rounding tool can give time back to clinicians to perform clinical duties, which boosts staff satisfaction, according to Mr. DeSimone. "If you have a patient experience rounding tool that integrates with a work order system that can identify if a ceiling panel needs to be replaced or when a bathroom needs to be cleaned, that work order is automatically generated and reacted on right away … that takes pressure off the nurse to resolve the issue," he said.

2. Resolves patient issues quickly and effectively. Issues raised by patients can be resolved quickly and effectively, because the tool tracks these issues in real time and can be integrated with work orders and the EHR, Mr. DeSimone explained. This allows providers to address patient issues swiftly, which can boost their overall experience and mitigate any potential safety issues before they become bigger problems.

3. Creates visibility across the organization. Digital rounding allows administrators or other clinicians to respond and communicate about patients' issues throughout their stay. For example, if a patient had an issue with his or her breakfast food in the morning, a nurse could input this information into the mobile application and when an administrator completed rounds later in the day, they could open the application, see the issue, and ask the patient if it was resolved, Ms. Kondas explained.

4. Improved data collection. When patient issues are tracked in a central system, providers not only have a more robust view of the patient, but they are also able to use the data to identify trends across the organization to make widespread performance improvements rather than handling each issue as a separate event.

Overall, bringing a digital tool into the long-held clinical improvement practice of rounding enables real-time service recovery, tracks issues and creates visibility across departments to improve both the caregiver and patient experience.

To learn more about the benefits of the digital health rounding tool, listen to the webinar here.

To view the webinar slides, click here

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