Transforming Patient Relations with Non-Traditional Team Members

July 24, 2018 Jennifer La Grassa

As healthcare processes become more digital, there’s been a renewed focus on human interaction.

Caroline Costello, director of patient and family insights, and the team at UChicago Medicine, are working to improve patient experience by empowering staff, those who may not typically interact with patients, to create meaningful connections. 

“Our mission is to create a culture where exceptional experiences occur for everyone, every time,” says Caroline. In 2017, her team started a mission to teach leaders and local unit supervisors to perform supplemental rounds, or check-in with patients, to provide relief for nurses and physicians.

In order to know where to focus their efforts, they had to maximize the patient voice. Using patient feedback from RL6, inpatient surveys, discharge care calls, and information from the patient and family advisory councils, they were able to see which units had low patient engagement scores. They also consulted physicians and nurses who were feeling overwhelmed.

“We’re on this journey of learning to look at how we can meld that data and feedback and use it more in real time,” says Caroline. The information they collected from these different resources was compiled in Tableau, and revealed which units needed the extra help in patient support.

These units were assigned supplemental rounders—staff in food services, environmental services, patient transportation—to visit patients and engage in a conversation with them. Given UChicago Medicine’s size, even a simple touch like this can be comforting to patients.

For supplemental rounders, there are no scripted questions or quota they must meet, rather they are free to visit as many patients as they’d like and set aside an amount of time that works for them. This makes the process feel more natural for the patient and staff member.

Though it’s hard to place a statistical measure on the quality of these conversations, Caroline and her team have looked at results from inpatient surveys and have found that the overall rating of care has increased. While this can’t be directly tied to supplemental rounding, they’ve seen particular increases in units where they’ve focused their efforts.

Feedback data from RL has shown that complaints are down by 10 percent and compliments have increased by 30 percent. 

Caroline hopes to continue to work towards collecting more direct data and eventually bring these services to ambulatory patients. 

“It’s for us to show our commitment to patient experience…to show that we are here and we are committed…our mission has been, as a patient experience team, how can we be the most impactful, be the most valuable partners, and continue to show that the work that we’re doing is worthwhile,” says Caroline.

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