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The Patient Experience: CEO’s — Are You Listening?

The importance of C-Suite’s focus on the Patient Experience (PX) was a central theme of this year’s Beryl Institute PX Conference.

While the rapid growth of the Institute — now over 55,000 members and guests strong —speaks to the urgency of its mission of improving PX across the continuum of care, the reality is that adoption of this vital principle among hospital CEO’s has not as yet kept pace with the prevailing need.

Still, there are encouraging signs. And the fact that there were over 1100 attendees at the event from across the globe, along with over 40 exhibitors, shows that PX is top-of-mind for many providers.

The simple truth is that a hospital oriented around providing the highest level of patient care starts with truly caring about patients. And no one I know embodies that fundamental idea more than my long-time friend Dr. Ricardo Guerra (aka Dr. Rich), with whom I was pleased to present at the Conference.

As one of the founders of Walnut Hill Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, Dr. Rich has shown how a hospital, imbued with compassion, can be re-imagined from the ground-up to become a thriving institution. Underlying the Walnut Hill’s success is a short two-word statement: “WE CARE.” That phrase is also an acronym for a code of behavior that characterizes every patient touch-point, and every moment a provider either physically, or digitally (i.e. via technology), interacts with a patient. The formula is:

W = Warm Welcome and personalized greeting.
E = Empathize.
C = Communicate and Connect.
A = Address the patient’s concerns, questions and needs, both expressed and unexpressed.
R = Resolve and Reassure.
E = End with a fond farewell and an invitation to call upon you once more.

For Dr. Rich, WE CARE is Walnut Hill’s secret sauce. As such, it represents more than a set of guidelines to help meet the expectations of patients and their families. WE CARE also inspires doctors and staff to address mandates and regulations like HCAHPS and MACRA, which are continually pushing hospitals to improve care quality, value, and outcomes.

I’ll add here — as I did at the conference — that there is no aspect of Dr. Rich’s WE CARE that cannot be served well, if not materially enhanced, by technology. From improving patient access and communication, to providing information and education, to creating a shared platform for decision-making, there are innumerable ways technological advances can be put to work for patients, at home or in a clinical setting.

During my talk, I took the opportunity to announce BAHA Healthcare Advisors, an important new program offered by BAHA Enterprises. The program will feature leading provider-based executives across many healthcare disciplines, who will be available to advise healthcare technology companies on ways to improve PX in all its dimensions. I’m proud to introduce Dr. Rich as among our first BAHA Healthcare Advisors.

There are many experts who can help speed the transition to more compassionate care, and it is my hope that hospital CEO’s take notice. Perhaps one day soon they’ll allow the “E” in CEO to stand for Experience, not simply Executive. That’ll be a good day indeed, for patients and hospitals alike.

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