Last month’s Empathy + Innovation Summit was a rousing success, with more than 2,100 attendees hailing from around the globe. The Summit featured distinguished speakers from academic and community health centers, as well as outpatient clinics, out-of-industry thought leaders, and a strong presence of ePatients.
The event hit the major themes of the experience movement, including:
Culture and Staff Engagement.
All of the discussions pointed to culture and staff engagement to some degree – from the CEO, CNO, and physician panels to Micah Solomon’s keynote drawing from the hospitality industry. The most compelling transformation story came from Debbie Green, VP of Nursing and Patient Services at Annie Penn Hospital, and Mickey Foster, President of Annie Penn Hospital and EVP Cone Health. The two described a shift to relentless transparency and accountability from the bedside to the boardroom that includes having the president perform every function in the hospital on rounds – including changing bed linens. The hospital went from 33rd to a sustained 99th percentile overall hospital rating as a result of these and other efforts.
The Lean approach to driving quality and process improvement was woven throughout several presentations. Speakers stressed the value of having a systematic approach to finding and fixing problems in quality, safety, and experience. John Toussaint of ThedaCare made the strongest case, detailing examples of well-run Andon Systems and Defect Huddles. These tools empowered front line staff members to draw on their knowledge of existing processes and devise workable solutions, rather than having leadership bringing forth ideas without input.
Though not directly defined, “patient engagement” was an overt theme or undercurrent in many presentations. The Cleveland Clinic Chief Innovation Officer Tom Graham, MD, probably summed it up best: Patients should feel relentless forward progress; families should be able to advocate for the patient’s preferences. Solutions for patient empowerment ranged from communication approaches (such as Cleveland Clinic’s REDE model) to technology platforms. (WebMD CEO David Schlanger called for “information and data that provides personalized insights and calls to action for patients” as well as digital connections between patients and physicians.)
Morgan Gleason, the young patient whose videos have reached national acclaim (http://morgangleason.com/, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVt3eHAsdK4), made the most powerful case for listening to patient voice. Her experience pointed to challenges with alarms dinging in patient rooms (“Why do they beep here when the person who can do something about it is over there?”), with the timing of medical discussions (on the staff’s schedule rather than being sensitive to her need for sleep), and with the tendency of doctors to speak over her to her parents instead of including her in the conversation (“Whatever you’re talking about is going to happen to me anyway, so you might as well talk to me.”). Morgan’s insights, intelligence, and poise point to a significantly stronger role for patients in identifying experience gaps, and designing solutions and services that help patients heal.
The Value of Leadership.
Both the CEO panel – featuring Charles Sorenson, MD, Intermountain Healthcare, Robert Pryor, MD, Baylor Scott & White Health, Michael Dowling, MD, Northshore Long Island Jewish, Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, MD, Cleveland Clinic – and several of the breakout sessions proved that having an unwavering commitment to human experience at the most senior levels of the organization paves the road for success. Interestingly, each of the CEOs was able to point to a personal “ah-ha” moment that revealed the importance of empathy to the practice of medicine. Perhaps experiencing a moment of truth should be a requirement for all aspiring health system CEOs!
Three themes that didn’t emerge as strongly as I’d like were true interdisciplinary teamwork (the separation of the CEO, CNO, and physician panels are indicative of an industry that still segregates by training and role), care transitions, and patient reported outcomes. All three topics could be found in undercurrents of some otherwise extremely compelling presentations – and, of course, it’s not possible to glean every insight from the dozens of concurrent breakout sessions offered at the event. But as the imperatives for “systemness,” coordinated care, and goal-directed care increasingly define success, we expect these themes to play an increasing role in distinguishing great care from an outstanding human experience.
We look forward to continuing the conversation at this and other industry events.
Members of the Experience Innovation Network who wish to discuss insights from the event in more detail should contact Liz Boehm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-364-6121.