VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, May 12, 2017

Our Shared Dream for Patients

Good morning!

And Happy Hospitals Week and Nurses Week! Our hospitals provide the most advanced care in the state, serve as the safety net for many of our citizens and act as the education hub for legions of health professions students. And the strong and steady heartbeat of our hospitals and health system is our nurses. We appreciate all you do, not just on Nurses Week, but every single day.

Wednesday I had the pleasure of helping to announce the creation of an Office of Patient Experience at UMMC, under the co-sponsorship of Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Henderson and Chief Nursing Executive Officer Terri Gillespie.

Office_patient_experience.jpgThe office will be led jointly by one physician and one nurse but, as was said about the epic movies created in Hollywood's golden era, this effort will have a “cast of thousands.”

And that's because each and every person who works at UMMC, studies here, answers a phone, walks the halls . . . each and every one of us owns a part of our patients' experience.

The good news is UMMC faculty and staff already often provide a wonderful experience for our patients. I know that from my own time here and from many reports I've received from friends and family over the years.

But I also know the quality of a patient's experience can sometimes be inconsistent. From the inability to get a timely appointment to prolonged stays in a waiting room to billing snafus - sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. And sometimes we just don't treat people as we would hope to be treated. From our patients' perspective, these are personal affronts that color their opinion of UMMC and their willingness to recommend us to others.

The Office of Patient Experience is part of our overall effort to improve clinical quality. When Dr. Henderson took the lead in our quality journey about two years ago, we had a lot of energy and enthusiasm around quality improvement. We had pockets of excellence, but our efforts were fragmented. Dr. Henderson brought experience and a field-tested plan of attack. We are not where we need to be yet, but we've made tremendous progress in two years.

In the same way, I feel we are now ready to take this structured, comprehensive approach to improving the patient experience, with a goal of being at our best for all of our patients every step of their journey with us. I also believe that in Adrienne Murray, director of nursing quality, development and professional practice, and Dr. Lisa Didion, associate professor of pediatrics, we have the right people to lead this charge.

And let me be clear: They will be leading all of us. Every one of us has a role to play in this cast of thousands. Ten thousand, to be exact.

I'll close by retelling the story that Dr. Didion shared at the UHHS leadership meeting where this announcement was made. In searching the Internet for inspiring images about the team effort needed to improve our patients' experience, she landed on some recruitment posters from the World War II era. In these posters, Uncle Sam and Rosie the Riveter beckon others to rally behind the cause. In those fateful years, regardless of their role - soldier, factory worker, wife on the home front - all Americans shared a single vision, a single dream, and that was to win. For our patients, said Dr. Didion, “We all need to have the same dream.”

Ultimately, I think that dream for most people is to live a healthy life in the company of loved ones. Aren't we fortunate and privileged to be able to play some small but crucial part in fulfilling that dream? The dream of A Healthier Mississippi.

Follow me on Twitter @LAWoodwardMD