How Cleveland Clinic's pours its HEART into patient experience

Recently named to the No. 2 position on Newsweek's "2023 Best Hospitals" list, Cleveland Clinic leaders know full well that their efforts to constantly improve patient experience are always under a microscope.

In fact, Stephanie Bayer, senior director of patient experience, told Becker's that her team is focused on generating new, innovative programs to take patient satisfaction to the next level all the time. The healthcare system was the first in the country to establish an Office of Patient Experience and to "prioritize patient experience as a strategic goal." 

This month, the hospital is "rolling out high reliability training for all 70,000 caregivers" — training that includes patient experience practices. "Good communication is not just something for experience, but also drives safe cultures," Ms. Bayer said.

The best experiences start with excellent communication between clinicians and patients, Ms. Bayer said, noting long gone are the days when clinicians have time to head back into classrooms to update training. 

That's why the Communicate with H.E.A.R.T. programs — S.T.A.R.T. with Heart and Respond with H.E.A.R.T. — were put in place. They provide "caregivers with easy-to-remember tools to help them feel more confident in their communication skills, in their ability to convey empathy, and in their ability to respond to patients' concerns with empathy," she said.

S.T.A.R.T. stands for "smile and greet warmly," "tell your name, role and expectations," "active listening and assist," "rapport and relationship building" and "thank the person." H.E.A.R.T. stands for hear, empathize, apologize, respond and thank.

This program is available to all hospitals through a Press Ganey-Cleveland Clinic collaboration.

As part of this program, Cleveland Clinic offers "HEART Chats," microlearning modules that are easily incorporated into meetings or huddles. These mini-lessons include practical topics like what to say to a patient when the hospital is busy and they may be experiencing a delay in care.

Of course, Cleveland Clinic takes quick action whenever there is a patient complaint, referring the matter to the hospital ombudsman, who intervenes as necessary.

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