4 Creative Ways to Improve Patient Experience From University of Utah Health Care

One of the greatest drivers of patient satisfaction improvement at Salt Lake City-based University of Utah Health Care is innovation at the unit level. The health system empowers each unit to develop strategies to improve satisfaction at its unit; these strategies are then shared with others in the system. Here, Chrissy Daniels, director of strategic initiatives at University of Utah Health Care, shares four creative tactics University of Utah Health Care units have used to boost patient satisfaction.

Chrissy Daniels is director of strategic initiatives at University of Utah Health Care.1. Scrapbooking. University of Utah Health Care's obstetrics unit uses scrapbooking to improve patient experience. Nurses make and sign scrapbook pages that include pictures of the nurses with the mother and baby for the patients to take home. "The concept is their care is so good, moms would want to put it in baby books," Ms. Daniels says. Thinking of patient satisfaction as something so valuable that patients would want to document their experience motivates providers to improve. "Once you think about the care you deliver every day being in a scrapbook, it makes a difference in your attitude. Staff start thinking about what kind of moments you would want to create [that would go in a scrapbook]," she says.

2. Hi, goodbye, manage up. For per diem staff who only work once a month, University of Utah Health Care leaders developed a patient satisfaction strategy that is easy to learn and implement. The strategy, "hi, goodbye, manage up," involves three actions:

•    Introduce yourself to each patient when you begin your shift.
•    Say goodbye to each patient when you end your shift.
•    Introduce the staff member who will replace you to each patient.

When a staff member introduces a colleague taking over his or her shift, the staff member shares something authentic about the colleague, such as "She's a really good listener," to create a personal connection between the new staff member and patient.

3. Environmental services staff communication. University of Utah Health Care encouraged environmental services staff members to communicate with patients to improve patient satisfaction scores around friendliness and courtesy. Initially, the environmental services team rarely interacted with patients. Under the communication initiative, however, environmental services staff members were assigned to a specific unit to be able to get to know patients in the unit. Staff members introduce themselves to patients and write their name on the board in patients' rooms. In addition, housekeepers write a card to patients after cleaning their room in their absence. This program increased patient satisfaction scores for the participating units from the bottom 10 percent in the nation to the top 10 percent, according to Ms. Daniels.

4. Hiring like a burger joint. University of Utah Health Care learned one of its patient satisfaction strategies from the hamburger chain In-N-Out Burger. A manager at the health system remarked upon the extreme friendliness of employees at In-N-Out Burger. The manager spoke with the corporate leaders of In-N-Out Burger to learn their secret. From this and subsequent discussions as well as health system employees' onsite observations of restaurant employees, University of Utah Health Care changed their hiring practices to recruit friendlier staff. As a result, friendliness scores for the clinic that used the new hiring practices increased to the 90th percentile.

More Articles on Patient Experience:

Study: Countries Define Patient Satisfaction Differently
Survey: Patient Satisfaction at Two-Decade High

University of Utah Health Care's 5-Pronged Approach to Patient Satisfaction

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