Hospital looks to improve patient experience
Ed Tessier, a clinical pharmacist at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, has led several staff presentations on improving the hospital's patient experience. (Recorder/Micky Bedell)
Jill Johnson, a materials services aide at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, has been a leader in a new program the hospital is rolling out to improve patient experience. (Recorder/Micky Bedell)
GREENFIELD — Baystate Franklin Medical Center patients may observe fewer trash bins and “wet floor” signs in the hallways. They may notice more employees saying, “Hello,” or hear doctors sharing more accurate time estimates for how long a medical visit will take.
The hospital is rolling out a program this spring that it hopes will create a better overall experience and improve unity among employees. Employees have been working on the project for years and brought in an outside consultant last year to help build the SPIRIT (Service, Passion, Integrity, Respect, Investment and Teamwork) program.
“We want to make patients feel comfortable here,” said Jill Johnson, who works in the storeroom and provides hospital staff with medical supplies. “We want to make them feel like this is our family caring for your family.”
The hospital said that this isn’t a revolutionary idea and it’s something employees have been trying to do for years.
But when patients and community members met with outside consultant Jake Poore last summer, they repeatedly described their hospital visits as inconsistent. They could have a pleasant visit one day, only to have their next trip feature lengthy wait times and mixed messages from employees.
The hospital is hoping the SPIRIT program will counter this by getting all of its employees on the same page. During mandatory 90-minute presentations held over the past few months, hospital workers instructed their peers on basic ways they can boost patient satisfaction.
Employees should always be willing to help someone they pass in the halls, they should use the patient’s preferred name and try to be honest about how long medical procedures will take. Statements that blame another department for a delay can damage a person’s trust in the whole organization, staff said.
The same care needs to be given to the hospital’s physical appearance, they said. Employees are now being encouraged to reduce clutter they see in the hallways, even if that’s not their primary job.
“If we are exposed to something every day, we don’t see it anymore,” said Clinical Pharmacist Ed Tessier. “As caregivers, we’re often so busy with the technical stuff that we do, we sometimes forget that ... we’re not addressing what’s really on their mind and addressing it in a way that makes sense.”
Poore, a former Walt Disney Co. employee who founded the Florida-based Integrated Loyalty Systems, visited Greenfield last July to interview patients, community members and staff and map the “patient experience.” His team returned in the fall for a two-day retreat at the hospital, where staff, and some patients, helped create the SPIRIT program in its current form.
Chief Operating Officer Gina Campbell said that Poore confirmed many things that an internal group, Team XL, had already discovered. Poore’s company then helped the hospital and Team XL create a plan to get all 800 employees on board.
Over the past few months, several staff members, including Johnson and Tessier, have been leading the 90-minute presentations on the program. Staff will also meet within their own departments to talk about the ways in which they can take part in the SPIRIT program in their daily jobs.
Hospitals and health care providers around the country are ramping up their efforts to improve patient experience, in part because there is now federal reimbursement money at stake.
The federal government reimburses hospitals for Medicare, the health program for the elderly, but it now withholds 1 percent and redistributes that money based on the results of a national, standardized survey about patient experience. The survey asks questions like “How often did nurses explain things in a way you could understand?” and “How often was the area around your room quiet at night?”
You can reach Chris Shores at: email@example.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264