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Develop caring moments for patients

December 18th, 2013

by Scott Kashman and Joan M. Odorizzi

As we go about doing our particular work each day, it is important to create personal and caring moments for our patients and each other. These moments are part of your daily or weekly work.

In a "caring moment" you would intentionally choose words and actions that send a message to another and enhance their well-being. In other words, an employee can give a patient a warm face cloth before eating, and that in itself is a good thing.

You can create caring moments by talking with the patient and sharing why you are doing so. Tell them you are doing this especially for them to help provide some comfort during this difficult time. Caring moments take only seconds of time and have a lasting, goodwill effect on someone else. Your intent to create these moments changes good experiences into meaningful and caring moments.

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For example, we are upgrading our linen for our patients. If you do not talk with patients about this linen change, they would never know the linen has been upgraded for their comfort. By sharing we are using resort hotel-quality linen held to medical standards and upgraded the linen for their improved comfort, we have been more intentional. We also will ensure they provide feedback so we can measure the overall effect after a trial period. We want our patients, staff and physicians to know they have a say in the linen and impact on the overall experience.

Patients certainly have many caring moments or moments of truth during a stay. We have upgraded and enhanced many of our clinical programs, campus and facility aesthetics, and training. The caring moments philosophy will keep us focused on meaningful and intentional discussion on why we are doing what we are doing. That also brings about the outcome of this--feedback. As leaders, we will receive feedback and need to appreciate every bit of feedback we get (like dessert after each holiday meal!). After all, people are thinking it any way ... might as well know the truth about how they feel.

Of course, we all want to measure the impact of our efforts. We are intentionally driving our business strategies through the lens of Samueli Institute's optimal healing environment (OHE). This is an environment that is optimistic, caring and healing. Most of the time organizations look for ROI (return on investment). We are no different except for the way we go about achieving these goals. In the book, "Prescription for Excellence," Joseph Michelli, M.D., notes UCLA Health System has what it calls ROE or return on experience. The health system looks for the following:

  • Greater profitability
  • Improved customer loyalty
  • Team mobilization toward as common goal
  • Positive staff morale, retention and recruitment benefits
  • Strong community support for their programs

As we focus more on caring moments and our optimal healing environment, we have realized improvements in all the ROEs above. No matter what our role and duties are, each of us has the opportunity to create caring moments. Each interaction offers the opportunity to create a caring moment. How is your organization intentionally focusing on caring moments?

Enjoy your holiday season and Happy New Year. Wishing everyone great success in their continued expedition through 2014.

Scott Kashman serves as the Chief Administrative Officer of Cape Coral Hospital, part of the Lee Memorial Health System in southwest Florida.

Joan M. Odorizzi, BS, CMSRN, is nursing director at Cape Coral Hospital, part of the Lee Memorial Health System in southwest Florida, and co-leader for the Business of Healing Environment development.

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