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The power of celebration in patient experience success

April 17th, 2014

by Jason A. Wolf

I am excited about an upcoming celebration. In an earlier Hospital Impact blog post I shared the story of leaving the closing moments of Patient Experience Conference 2013 to witness my son's birth. The powerful juxtaposition of perspective that situation provided--transitioning from an advocate for unparalleled experience to a recipient of one--is now woven into who I am.

It also taught me a practical and valuable lesson on the importance of all who impact the patient experience each and every day. And while I anticipate celebrating my son's first birthday just a few days from now, there is another celebration I anxiously await.

In just more than 10 days, the first Patient Experience Week will be begin. This idea, generated by members of The Beryl Institute community, will take place in healthcare organizations around the world. What is significant here is the opportunity it represents. As a family member at the bedside, I saw first hand how an extensive collection of individuals from admissions to food service, clinicians to housekeepers, impacted my family's experience.

You see, anyone who impacts the lives of an individual in the healthcare system across the continuum from clinic settings, to inpatient facilities, to long term care, home health and beyond, plays a significant role. It reinforces the critical point that "we are all the patient experience."

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More so, what I saw in my experience at the bedside and have come to solidly believe through my experiences with others hard at the work of healthcare, is that for all that is done every day, we must find the time to pause, be it however simple or succinct, to take in what we have accomplished. We must refresh and renew our purpose, acknowledge those that impact ours and other's lives, and take a moment to reflect on the impact we have and recognize the situations that influenced us personally.

As a proponent for strong and vibrant organizational culture, I see time and time again those organizations that outperform are ones that take the time to reward and recognize their team, take stock of their accomplishments, reassess their direction and purpose, and find the space to recharge and renew their efforts. These are not complicated actions and, in fact, are quite the opposite, in providing the opening for celebration you clear the decks for even greater things to happen.

I have yet to meet a human being who does not appreciate a kind word of acknowledgement for accomplishments or encouragement for actions underway. These are truly priceless (and relatively inexpensive) tools in a work environment that in its chaos can at times take more than it gives back. Yet those of us in healthcare seem to continue to give and give again.

With that I offer a few considerations as you look to make celebration a part of what you do:

  • Find simple ways to acknowledge and recognize what people do each day --be it peer-to-peer or from leadership. There is powerful fuel in these efforts.
  • Create the space for a culture of appreciation to flourish, while being mindful not to dilute the power it has. For example, giving away a gift card for every little thing ultimately drains the power of a true acknowledgement of accomplishment.
  • Be willing to think beyond the typical. Celebrations are about the chance to dance in the moment (literally and/or figuratively). So think about what fits your organization, your culture and your people and try it.
  • Take the time to think big. There is value in organization-wide celebrations and they need not be expensive. Thoughtfulness trumps dollars in almost every case.

As I think back to all those individuals who impacted my patient and family experience, I hope they were acknowledged, recognized and had the chance to celebrate. I also hope they have a chance to recharge, refresh and relaunch their efforts by taking advantage of Patient Experience Week. The thought of thousands around the world taking stock and rallying around their patient experience efforts, the outcomes they have achieved and the ongoing impact they will have, is inspiring. There is great power in celebration. I look forward to hearing how you choose to celebrate your efforts. Most importantly, I encourage you to take the time and ensure you do.

Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D., is president of The Beryl Institute, where he specializes in organizational effectiveness, service excellence and high performance in healthcare. Follow Jason @jasonawolf and The Beryl Institute @berylinstitute on Twitter.

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