Transforming the patient experience

September 25, 2017 | by Mary Lou Mastro

We’ve got a mantra here at Edward-Elmhurst Health: safe, seamless, personal.

We want our patients to have secure, easy-to-manage, meaningful experiences every time they’re in our care. We’re working hard to make this reality.

We’re training our entire system staff, including non-clinical folks, on safety. We’re paying close attention to our compassionate caregiving. And we’re working the kinks out of the logistics of receiving care.

To that last point, we have started a project to follow our patients’ experiences from start to finish. What happens when a patient attempts to schedule an appointment? How long does she sit in the waiting room? How many phone calls does it take to schedule needed tests and follow-up appointments?

Our senior staff will partner with actual patients who are in treatment at Edward-Elmhurst. They’ll see and document everything the patient goes through for an entire year.

We’ve made a huge commitment to this. We want to address all the fragmentation and friction that can occur over the course of a patient’s care.

I find this project so fascinating because we’re tapping into the patients to tell us exactly what happens. For so long we’ve relied on our own insight as to what we think the patient experience is. The problem is, none of us as caregivers have traveled the patient journey. We don’t see what they go through.

A physician may be familiar with what happens in her office, but that physician doesn’t see what patients have to go through to schedule appointments or get tests and lab work done.

In this project, we’re focusing on cardiology with the intent of using what we learn in all of our departments. We’ve talked to physician office staff, rehabilitation, diagnostics, surgery and cardiologists to map out the patient experience from their perspective.

The panel of patients and their family members will also detail their experiences. For the next 12 months, the patients will use tablets or journals to log their experiences at Edward-Elmhurst, and senior staff will shadow them on appointments.

The project will highlight the ways we need to streamline our system. Once we have the data in hand, we’ll determine the next steps to meet our goal: safe, seamless, personal care for every patient.

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