Patient Satisfaction, HCAHPS Scores Bolstered by 'Sacred Moment'

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , January 30, 2013

During a brainstorming session to improve the patient experience, two physicians at Twin Rivers came up with the idea of a "sacred moment" between the physician and the patient shortly after they are admitted into the hospital.

"We asked why the initial conversation with the patient is so complicated. You have to fill out all this paperwork. 'Do you have a living will? What is your insurance?'" Pu says. "And my OB/GYN said, 'why can't we have a moment or a time at the beginning with the patient in that first 10 or 15 minutes where we really try to connect with the patient on a more-personal basis and try to address their immediate concerns and fears?' 'Do you know why you are here? Who is your support group? Do you have spiritual needs? Have you eaten in the last six hours?'"

Pu says the term 'sacred' is used not in a religious context but to re-affirm the caring bond between the physician and the patient. "That first 10 or 15 minutes the provider has with the patients means it is uninterrupted, sacred. You don't answer a cell phone or do anything else. You are completely focused on that 10 or 15 minutes with that particular patient," he says.

"We try to eliminate fears and address concerns. We found that not only can you do that but you also do something for the person who is giving the sacred moment. By making that connection you are tapping back into their original calling and mission. They feel like they are caring for somebody and it is not perceived as just another task."

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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