'Healthcare is not investment banking': At Cleveland Clinic, patient experience is everyone's job

All members of the Cleveland Clinic team are referred to as "caregivers," because every employee should be focused on patients regardless of their position. In fact, part of every person's job is to help deliver the highest quality care and provide the best patient experience, Stephanie Bayer, senior director of patient experience at Cleveland Clinic, told Becker's.

That said, it's understandable that C-suite leaders are focused on varying priorities, depending on which office they are sitting in. Financial leaders might find this nugget difficult to read, but "healthcare is not investment banking. There are other ways to make $1," Ms. Bayer said, adding empowering caregivers with the tools they need to "remove the noise" and integrate empathy into day-to-day operations should be a top priority for all leaders.

Ms. Bayer said she and her patient experience team are focused on making sure their message gets through to colleagues loud and clear. Cleveland Clinic is constantly doing more to improve the way it delivers on its patient experience promise because patients who have good experiences are more likely to adhere to care recommendations and have better outcomes.

"The people working for you want to be engaged and connected to patients, and they need their help in prioritizing how patient experience can be delivered in a highly reliable way," Ms. Bayer said. "Providing authentic, supportive experiences results in the hospital being able to offer patients better, safer care — often in more efficient ways."

Here are four patient care initiatives Cleveland Clinic is using to ensure patient experiences that lead to high satisfaction scores.

  1. Plan of care visits build on an overall communication-comes-first strategy that has long been a top priority for the healthcare system. Cleveland Clinic holds plan of care visits daily between caregivers — including, at a minimum, the provider and one nurse — and the patient or patient representative. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the patient's care plan for that day. 

"This is a built-in care model process that requires patient-centric team communication with metrics and expectations of daily performance," Ms. Bayer said.

Plan of care visits are a central part of Cleveland Clinic's Communicate with H.E.A.R.T. (hear, empathize, apologize, respond and thank) programs.

  1. Leadership meeting time means safety story time. Leslie Jurecko, MD, chief safety, quality and experience officer, helps to align all three areas of importance at the Cleveland Clinic. Every meeting — from the enterprise leadership council to small team huddles — begins with a safety story that also reflects a patient experience, the patient experience leader said.
  1. A different kind of healing. Cleveland Clinic's art and medicine division also lives in the patient experience realm. "Not only do they offer support through art and music therapists directly to patients," Ms. Bayer said, "but they are also experts at programming for healing environments." 

This program includes regular performances by artists in residence and uses art therapy to help both patients and caregivers "unpack trauma," she said

  1. Caring Canines: A "community of volunteers with four legs" brings smiles to patients' faces all day long. Visits from dogs give respite to patients from anxiety and focus on their pain, Ms. Bayer said. 

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