As patients are wheeled into surgery, no more bright hallway lights blinding them from above; now the lights are installed in recesses along the side.
Gross added that Disney talks about "scripting" its theme park employees. And that translates for healthcare as well, he says. For example, when people need help with directions, healthcare personnel are discouraged from pointing or giving them verbal instructions. Rather, "they should say, 'I have time, I'll walk with you to where you need to go.' The person never gets lost; they feel supported, and they always end up saying, 'Wasn't that nice.' "
Sharp has also fashioned what it calls "the signature moment," a concept in which providers take advantage of points in the care process that the patient might remember, Gross says. For example, after an endoscopic procedure, "the staff place a napkin, glass of juice and some Jell-O on a silver tray and serve it to the patient who has been 'NPO' (nil per os, or nothing through the mouth) for 24 hours." Colonoscopy patients would be ever so grateful, I thought.
At Sharp's Grossmont Hospital a few miles away, "A burly gardener plucks roses from the rose garden on the grounds and puts them in bud vases" to give to the patients.
It all adds up. Since the new building—with its improved staff culture and physical amenities—opened in January 2009, Gross says, Sharp Memorial's Press Ganey scores have skyrocketed, from 49% percentile during the third quarter of 2008, to 61% during the first quarter of 2009 to 98th or 99th percentile in each of the last six quarters.
Gross is aware that many health providers believe "that when patients can rest better and have less environmental stress, they heal better; their call light is on a lot less, they need less frequent pain medication and they get out of hospital faster." In the end, all of this translates to hospital savings.
But that's not the main reason for doing it, he says. "When you create experiences that leave your patient amazed and gratified, they're going to want to continue to receive their healthcare from your organization. There's more gain from increasing patient loyalty than from reducing expenses," he says.