This goal meant giving up the more traditional approach to patient communication in favor of one in which the patient plays a more interactive role with the care and treatment process. For instance, the Planetree philosophy—which Griffin Hospital uses—includes posting signs in the patients’ rooms encouraging them to read their medical record/chart and offer feedback in a comments section.
They put the patient on the healthcare team, Frampton explains. “We are working in a system that largely dis-empowers the patient,” she says. “We need to learn to look for opportunities for transparency during treatment and care.”
Across the country in San Diego, Susan Stone, PhD, RN, chief nursing officer and chief operating officer at Sharp Memorial Hospital turned to a patient-centered approach when patient satisfaction scores seemed deadlocked in the 30% range. The 657-bed facility was newly built and offered a 52-bed ED with 37 private rooms. Administration anticipated seeing its patient satisfaction scores improve with the move to the new facility, but those hopes fell flat. While there was a slight uptick for a few months after the transition, the scores soon returned to pre-move levels.
“We quickly realized that a new building doesn’t equal patient satisfaction,” says Stone.
Stone says Sharp used Lean methodology to analyze processes, and decided to concentrate on improving emergency department wait times, which were hovering at approximately 5.1 hours. Some patients got so tired of waiting that they would simply leave without being treated. Not surprisingly, Sharp found that its ED wait times were having a direct impact on patient experience and satisfaction levels with the hospital.
“We decided to embed the patient’s voice in all that we do,” she says, and keeping that overarching goal in mind, Sharp set out to reduce ED wait time to less than three hours.