The success of our healthcare organization
DEPENDS UPON THE WAYS WE INTERACT AND ENGAGE WITH PATIENTS AND EACH OTHER. WE KNOW PATIENTS ARE
IMPACTED BY EVERY PERSON WHO COMES IN CONTACT WITH THEM OR THEIR FAMILIES. AS INTEGRAL PARTICIPANTS IN
HEALTHCARE, WE HAVE A VITAL ROLE TO PLAY IN OUR PATIENTS’ PERCEPTIONS OF THEIR EXPERIENCES. IT IS THE MOMENTS THAT MATTER.
Patients begin to evaluate a healthcare experience long before they enter a facility. Whether the first encounter is by telephone or with a valet service in the parking lot, patients and family members begin to judge the quality,
safety, and service of the organization before they reach the front door. It is not only what we say but how we sound and the way we look that impact what a patient and family take away from a healthcare experience. We
are each ambassadors for the mission and vision of our organization, and we have the opportunity to represent our hospitals, emergency departments, ambulatory settings, and post-acute facilities positively or negatively.
It is up to us to let patients know we care, through every action, every word, every interaction.
WHAT ARE THE MOMENTS THAT MATTER?
Moments that Matter encompasses the idea that all healthcare personnel have an impact on patients’ healthcare experiences. By understanding, empathizing, and developing ways to deliver an excellent experience, healthcare workers are in a unique position to impact lives. Whether we provide clinical care or not, each of us is integral, not only to the outcome of a single event, but to the way in which people approach healthcare moving forward.
There are eight primary principles for creating Moments That Matter; they include purpose, empathy, trust, communication, teamwork, accountability, appearance, and attitude. While these principles are easy to identify, they require mindful practice to live every day. A connection with purpose requires asking and answering the fundamental question, “Why did I choose healthcare?” Drawing on purpose means the person washing sheets understands he or she contributes to the health and well being of every patient. It means the parking lot attendant knows he or she makes the journey to the front door easier for many people. Empathy is a quality many of us embody; it draws us to healthcare. And, it requires we put ourselves in the other’s place and that we attempt to understand another human being at a very deep level. Likewise, trust is crucial; trust in ourselves, in our areas, and in our organizations. Underpinning many of these principles is effective communication, the ability not only to speak clearly and transparently but also to listen well to what is said and what is left unsaid. Being part of a high performing team means that we share a collective vision, know where the team is headed, carry our weight, and reward each other regularly. Associated with effective teamwork is accountability. Accountability ensures we follow through on our commitments and do what we say we will do. Professional appearance is an important principle in that it engenders confidence in our skills and in our organization. Finally, attitude provides the capstone; attitude is a choice that helps our patients know they matter to us.
MARY’S JOURNEY THROUGH THE CONTINUUM OF CARE AND THE MOMENTS THAT MATTER
Let’s examine Moments That Matter by walking through a healthcare experience with Mary. Mary’s journey begins at home. She contacts her primary care provider’s office after hours when she experiences unexplained stomach
pain for several days. She speaks with the office nurse who consults her physician and recommends Mary go to the local emergency department. A Moment That Matters occurs as the nurse reassures and listens to Mary, acts
with confidence, and empathizes by reflecting Mary’s concerns to make sure she understands.
On arrival at the emergency department, Mary notices she must park far from the door. On her way in, she sees trash in the parking lot and worries about the cleanliness of the facility. An early, critical Moment That Matters has been missed. Now, in addition to her pain, Mary experiences anxiety about the treatment she will receive, worrying that if the parking lot is dirty, the hospital may be also.
Entering the ED, Mary is greeted by a Plexiglas window bearing many notices; there are almost too many read. Through a small opening, Mary sees a person looking at a computer screen. Although Mary approaches the opening, the person does not look up. Another crucial Moment That Matters has been wasted. From the uninviting window to the lack of human connection, Mary now feels uneasy about what lies ahead.
Fortunately, the remainder of her ED visit goes very well, with clinicians keeping her informed of the time test results will require and helping to manage her pain. Using excellent communication skills and following through on commitments has helped Mary regain confidence in the hospital and in the ED team and has contributed successful Moments That Matter to Mary’s perception.
Mary learns she is to be admitted for observation. Her hospitalist and the nursing team on the floor exhibit excellent patient experience skills, updating Mary’s white board, narrating their care when explaining tests and time-frames, and being genuinely interested in Mary and her son, who is now with her. She notices that the housekeeper asks whether he can close the door for her privacy when leaving and the person delivering her tray calls her by name, smiling and looking her in the eye when entering the room. Each of these experiences demonstrates a Moment That Matters, and Mary feels relieved.
When Mary’s illness has been diagnosed and she is ready to leave, she is met by a member of the transport team. This transporter has the choice to impact Mary positively or negatively. He will be the final person Mary encounters while in the hospital, and his words and actions are another opportunity for a Moment That Matters. He looks Mary in the eye, smiles, and helps her into a wheelchair, saying, “We want to make sure you are safe, even when you’re going home. We’re so glad you chose our hospital for your care.”
As Mary travels home, she reflects on her experience. For her, it began, not with the emergency department or her stay on a hospital floor, but with a call to her doctor. She sees the entire experience as one event. And, while we like to think Mary will hold a positive overall opinion of her experience, not all aspects have been positive, and Mary may view the totality of the visit either positively or negatively.
The challenge for each of us in healthcare is to show up fully and to enter into our work wholeheartedly, knowing that we each have opportunities for providing Moments That Matter every day. Regardless of our role or title, it is only when we offer an excellent experience to every patient, every time that we have succeeded in living the principles embodied in Moments That Matter.
Published April 2016, PX Advisor