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Changing Culture

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, December 13, 2013
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This article appears in the December issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

In our August Intelligence Report, leaders indicated that their biggest stumbling block to an effective patient experience strategy is the difficulty of changing organizational culture. Why is that so difficult, and what can leaders do to help bring about a culture that embraces patient experience?

Pauline Arnold
Chief Nursing and Quality Officer
Vice President of Clinical Operations
IU Health La Porte (Ind.) Hospital


Pauline Arnold


Pauline Arnold

On mission drift: When you ask people why they are in healthcare, the answer invariably is "I want to help people." In that helping, sometimes we didn't engage people to become part of the helping. The helping became doing it for them.

On engaging the patient: We have to change the way we think about patients and their families and the role they play in their own healthcare. Patients seek out providers to give them answers to their healthcare questions. They want solutions that they can understand and embrace. Often they have researched information on the Internet that may or may not be correct. But there is an inconsistent embracing of their own responsibility for their own healthcare and seeking to partner with the healthcare provide to achieve their own healthcare goals.

Leaders have to commit to changing their own behaviors that then support those core beliefs. Tools aren't enough and educating people isn't enough. It requires a fundamental change in how we think. Then you use the tools to help establish the consistency for the behaviors that you know are required to meet your new beliefs.

On effecting the change: You can implement a change but that doesn't become the culture until it is embedded into the DNA of what we believe in the organization. You know it's in the DNA when it happens every time. It becomes a culture of always. We are on a journey. We are not there yet.

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