Demystifying Medicine One Month at a Time

Road Trip!

GlassHospital is on the road. [And I’m not at Disney World, as the photo suggests.]

This week I’m participating in the first ever Patient Experience Summit hosted by the Cleveland Clinic. The Clinic has emerged as the national leader in thinking about and developing a positive experience for patients “from the time they call to schedule their appointment to the time they leave the parking lot.”

Obviously, the medical care itself (the clinical outcome) is a key component of this, something health care organizations have focused on with intensity since, well, always.

Over the last decade and a half, as competition in the health care marketplace has become ever more vigorous, the physical environment of health care has received greater attention. In order to remain competitive, facilities have had to be upgraded: no more 2 or 4 bed hospital rooms; nutrition is provided on demand, music and visual arts have been added to the healing atmosphere in facilities that have long been designed for function more than form.

Yet, experts say it’s the emotional experience of how we are treated that stays with us long after we’ve left the facility and completed our medical treatment. And in an environment where reimbursement (read: Money) will now depend on how well an organization can deliver safe and high quality care, patient experience completes the trinity of factors that Medicare will evaluate us on.

Here are my key “take homes” from the summit:

  1. Patient Experience must be an organizational strategic priority.
  2. We need to focus on employee engagement as much as we do patient satisfaction. “Engaged employees deliver higher level service.”
  3. We must do everything in our power to re-develop a culture of empathy. It starts with giving our employees a higher purpose to aspire to.
  4. “Manage what we measure.” Find new information streams. Eighty percent of data about the care we deliver is unmeasured, and therefore not analyzed.

Subsequent posts will explore each of these points in greater detail, but I thought it important to get out a first dispatch.

And Disney world? One of the summit presenters is from something called the Disney Institute. They help organizations with training and culture change. Seems impossible to think you could ever like going to the hospital as much as you would going to Disney World. But if you get treated like you’re at Disney World, it’d make a huge difference. And it ain’t bad to aim high…


  1. joe marlin

    A feaw quick thoughts: To achieve such goals there needs to be a concentrated effort to retain trained staff at all levels and to “rationalize” work assignments so a patient does not meet so many staff. At teaching hospitals there is a problem of the vast number of residents who come to see you each day. Whean my son was experiencing many hospitalizations there were sometimes as many as 15-20 different staff, residents, atteanding a day! Oy!

    • glasshospital

      Joe, thanks for your comment. Dr. Merlino, Chief Experience Officer at the Cleveland Clinic, did his own informal tracking by asking one of his patients to record each person that entered her room during her hospitalization. The number was at 60 [SIXTY!] before she decided she didn’t want to count anymore.

      This not only included doctors, residents, fellows, students, and nurses, but therapists, phlebotomists, food service and housekeeping employees.

      As was pointed out at the conference, it only takes one bad encounter to spoil the flavor of the whole experience. With so many encounters, it makes the likelihood for a service failure that much greater.

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