Listening to patients and board members
Learning from previous patient experiences and using that information to create better clinical methodologies is one of Vidant's biggest priorities. There are about 100 patient advisors throughout the system who participate in rounds and serve on process improvement teams, board committees, and quality committees.
"Having patient and family advisors on major committees has been pretty instrumental," Rumans says. "The patient stories are invaluable because they bring a personal perspective to the care we are delivering. Surveys are limited, and through the stories, the patients and families always bring aspects that are not measured on the survey."
Board support has also been key, Hughes says. "We've been led by the most engaged board I've seen related to patient experience and quality. We have patient advisors sitting on one of the board committees, and at every meeting we have a patient story. Every time, a board member will ask what we could have done better. Some stories are good, others are not good, and we have to ask where the gaps are in a patient hand-off or transition so we can make our processes the best possible. The board challenges us to deliver that."
Generating positive metrics
The work Vidant does to create a positive patient experience is evident in the metrics. All of the system's hospitals are in the top quartile on HCAHPS scores nationally, and several are in the top 10%. In addition to being a source of pride for the organization, these numbers help protect revenue, Hughes says. "We spend a lot of time on improving our processes to take care of patients throughout the whole continuum, and that has also helped us financially."
Regardless of its current success, Vidant will always strive to provide a better patient experience, Rumans adds.
"This is about constantly improving," he says. "There isn't a sense of satisfaction that we are in the top of the country so we can let it be. The patient experience is critically important, and we have to deliver high-quality medical care."
Rene Letourneau is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.