Ten improvement teams from California public hospital systems spent the past eight months working to advance the experience of patients and staff in specific units or service lines. Led by the California Health Care Safety Net Institute (SNI), the teams were members of the Patient Experience Transformation (PExT) Action Collaborative, a unique effort in the safety net that applied rigorous quality improvement methodology (Experience Mapping and Design by ExperiaHealth) to affect measurable improvements specifically focused on patient and staff experience. PExT is SNI’s initiative aiming to transform the experience of care for all patients and families within the public hospital systems that are members of the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (CAPH), which includes many of California’s most vulnerable residents.

On June 5th SNI held the PExT Innovation Showcase during which the 10 teams presented on their work, successes and challenges. All of the teams worked to develop patient experience improvements, clearly inspired by the worthy goal of patient and family-centered care. Four examples are outlined below:

  1. The team at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) sought to improve patient experience by targeting phone access for patients contacting Moorpark Internal Medicine, one of their large primary care clinics. Aptly named “In Touch,” the project involved a multidisciplinary team, including two patients, in the process of designing and implementing a number of interventions to quickly and more reliably connect the patient with their clinic care team. These interventions included the creation of phone directories for patients, redesign of the automated phone system, and designation of staff for incoming calls. The work resulted in a significantly improved patient ranking of the clinic, as measured by the question of how likely the patient is to recommend the clinic for care to his/her friends and relatives, which is part of the PRC national benchmarking survey used by SCVMC. Before their PExT work, the patients’ responses in the top response category were at 1.8th percentile of the PRC national benchmark, while the same measure increased to the 32nd percentile following the interventions by the clinic’s team.
  2. Also focusing on outpatient experience, San Francisco General Hospital set out to improve the “first impression” experience of patients in its Urgent Care Center (UCC). Some of the experience gaps they uncovered include confusion in locating the UCC, as well as impersonal staff communication, which sometimes resulted in the patients feeling unwelcome. Their interventions included a number of “quick wins” and “always events” to improve the signage and help staff build better rapport with their patients. Especially remarkable was their inclusion of patients into the improvement process every step of the way, from gaps analysis to solutions design and implementation, as illustrated by this short video.
  3. The PExT team at the University of California Davis Medical Center targeted their improvements at the experience of cancer patients who are placed on non-cancer recovery or “overflow” floors. Spurred by feedback from patient focus groups – which were a component of the methodology followed by the Action Collaborative – UCDMC was able to quickly enhance the experience of “overflow” patients by assigning a dedicated oncology nurse to float on non-oncology recovery floors, and by cross-training “overflow” floor nurses on information and skills specific to the care of cancer patients.
  4. As a final example, the San Mateo Medical Center team helped their executive leaders connect their commitment to staff well-being and engagement to the institution’s work on improving patient experience, embracing these intertwined objectives as critical building blocks for the organization’s cultural transformation. As a result, they rolled out a Walk-in-Their-Shoes campaign, in which leaders, starting with their CEO Susan Ehrlich, MD, spent time shadowing front-line staff in their jobs – a seemingly simple but profound intervention that resulted in the staff feeling more connected to and appreciated by their leaders. Dr. Ehrlich highlighted this experience on her weekly blog, spreading the message of the leadership’s commitment to staff and patient experience broadly across the institution. At the June 5th PExT Innovation Showcase, the team from Santa Clara Valley Medical Center emerged as the winner of the PExT Innovator Award through a democratic voting process based on the criteria of Impact, Innovation, Scalability, Sustainability and Effort.

In collaboration between SNI and NAPH, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center will be presenting at the NAPH Annual Conference in San Francisco on June 21st as part of the breakout session “The Power of Patient Engagement,” along with two other patient experience stars from within California public hospitals: Anna Roth, RN, the CEO of Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and Gilbert Salinas, the Director of Patient Centered Care at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center.

Those attending the session on June 21st are in for a treat. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Boris Kalanj, MSW

Senior Program Associate,

Quality and Healthcare Equity

California Health Care Safety Net Institute (SNI)