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Great patient experience requires patient-centered care

Published on Monday, May 15, 2017

By: Ruth Cummins .

Published in News Stories on May 15, 2017

The Medical Center wants patients to leave the hospitals and clinics saying their experience was excellent, from the time they're checked in to the moment they walk out the door.

“We want to provide patient-centered care simply because it's the right thing to do,” Adrienne Murray, director of nursing quality, development and professional practice, said at UMMC's monthly leadership meeting held May 10.

The Medical Center has created an Office of Patient Experience to provide infrastructure for leading employees in taking care of the needs of patients and their families. “This is an office that will elevate the importance of the patient experience,” said Dr. Lisa Didion, associate professor of pediatrics.

The office is a huge step for UMMC in its journey toward quality improvement and culture change. Murray and Didion are leading the effort under the guidance of Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Henderson and Chief Nursing Officer Terri Gillespie.

The new office and its focus - with strong support from UMMC senior leadership -- was introduced at the May 10 meeting by administrators including Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and School of Medicine dean.

Adrienne Murray, left, and Dr. Lisa Didion are co-directors of the new Office of Patient Experience.
Adrienne Murray, left, and Dr. Lisa Didion are co-directors of the new Office of Patient Experience.

The appointment of a nurse and a doctor to lead the new office solidifies the need for a multidisciplinary partnership, said Candice Whitfield, the administrator of Henderson's office. “They'll be looking at things that everyone at UMMC can do to influence a better patient experience, and to promote better patient care.” 

“We need everyone at the Medical Center to be a part of this. It doesn't matter what your job role is,” Didion said.

The new office's guiding principles will focus on patient-centered care, employee engagement, the voice of the patient, and aligned programming. Its structure will include an oversight committee of clinical employees committed to helping Murray and Didion identify barriers and find ways to eliminate them.

Patient experience embraces both the physical and emotional components of care delivery, in contrast to patient satisfaction, which focuses on achieving an outcome. Areas critical to a positive patient experience include safe and high-value care, care with empathy, and responsiveness to issues raised by patients.

Didion and Murray “can't fix it,” Henderson said of patient experience delivery. “But they will bring forward the ideas and content to help the front line fix it. Every person who walks through the door here, every day, has some responsibility for patient experience.”


Didion and Murray are developing and aligning new programs and approaches to support front-line caregivers at all of UMMC's hospitals and ambulatory locations. The office brings together components that the Medical Center already has been assessing in its quest to deliver an excellent patient experience. That includes the voice of the patient, which can be heard through post-care surveys and through receiving and resolving complaints and grievances.

Specific functions of the office include ensuring that all regulatory and reporting requirements for patient experience are met; engaging patients and caregivers in improving the patient experience through service delivery and advisory councils; collecting, managing and presenting data to be used for improvement and accountability; and supporting and enabling recognition and celebration of successful patient experience efforts.

The new office already has put into action initiatives to change Medical Center culture where needed, Murray said. Managers, directors and supervisors recently completed one-hour learning labs on patient experience.

“We'd like to develop an advisory council of patients,” Murray said. “We want to focus on our customer service skills, and we need to hone our communication skills. Patients will have more support through this office.”

Amber Taylor, right, a licensed practical nurse at Lakeland Family Medicine, helps twins Jordyn and Justice Burgemaster of Madison choose a toy from a box from an assortment collected by Taylor.
Amber Taylor, right, a licensed practical nurse at Lakeland Family Medicine, helps twins Jordyn and Justice Burgemaster of Madison choose a toy from a box from an assortment collected by Taylor.

Employees who put the patient first by meeting their physical and emotional needs can be found in all of UMMC's corners and corridors.

Amber Taylor, a licensed practical nurse at Lakeland Family Medical, provides care with empathy by going above and beyond for pediatric patients. She “penny shops” at local dollar stores, purchasing with her own money marked-down toys and gadgets for children.

“I put them in a toy box, and the kids can enjoy them after they go to the doctor,” she said. “Usually, if they're getting shots, we bring them to the toy box. It helps them to calm down.”

The Medical Center's Volunteer Services also enhances the patient experience through a number of initiatives, including Within Reach, which addresses fall prevention safety. Moseziner “Mo” Crozier of Jackson, who volunteers at the hospital every Tuesday, brings patients their glasses, magazines and other items that aren't within reach, potentially saving patients from a fall if they get out of bed.

“I was in the ICU for a long time, and the nurses and staff were so good to me,” said Crozier, who had a heart transplant at UMMC in 2015.  “They met my every need. They treated me like I was a queen. I want the patients I visit to feel the same way I did.”

Always putting patients first, and taking their voices seriously, will help the Medical Center achieve its patient experience goals.

“From surveys to complaints and grievances, we have to listen,” Didion said. “We have to not just hear it, but listen to it. We have to hold each other accountable for providing the care that our patients deserve.”