Experience the Patient

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , June 13, 2012
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Edwina Henry
Director of Quality and Risk Management
ENNIS (Texas) Regional Medical Center

We are too passive. We throw those patient experience questions out there and we only react to the results we get. We aren't sitting down face-to-face with these folks and asking them to tell us what it means from their perspective.

From my experience, one aspect we worked ad nauseum was "the food is lousy." As it turns out, the patients weren't happy with the food because it was bland or "you only send me this or that," and they had no understanding of what diet they were supposed to be on. There was no communication with nursing on the plan of care and understanding that there is a no-fat diet or a no-salt diet or a bland diet for problems with ulcers.

We use a lot more task-based practices than critical-thinking and team skills. Although we see it, we don't exactly know how to fix it so we don't communicate well. Everyone is in there to do their task and says, "I don't want to be involved in anything else." That crosses over to the patient: "Well, I'm just supposed to give you this pill. I'm not supposed to really worry about whether you know what it is." So there is a disconnect there.

We need to engage families to help us understand what makes patients happy, to get some idea of where the gap is and how to close it.

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