Take-aways from the 2015 Patient Experience Summit

By Melissa Cunningham, PFCC Advisor & Volunteer Coordinator

3aIn May, I attended the 2015 Patient Experience Empathy Amplified Summit held by Cleveland Clinic. The summit rocked, literally and figuratively. Music played a major part at the conference –  each presenter was brought on stage to their own personal score. It was such an inspiring three days, I wanted to share some of the summit’s highlights.

For starters, it was incredible to hear Dr. Ronald Wyatt, the medical director of healthcare improvement for the Joint Commission, speak on “The Culture of Silence.” He shared his own personal story about a frightening experience he had while undergoing eye surgery. The key point of his presentation was to emphasize the importance of fostering an environment of trust and reporting to improve patient safety. More than 80% of health care employees see others taking shortcuts every day – culture can undermine safety!

Wyatt also talked about how physicians are people first and foremost and how love (yes, he said love) can transform our health care system. AMAZING!

3bChristy Dempsy, chief nursing officer for Press Ganey, talked about using simulations to build empathy among nurses, faculty and staff. One of the most insightful things Dempsy said was how a nurse’s relationship with their patient, whether positive or negative, is an incredibly intimate one. She then illustrated how it takes only 56 seconds to engage and give someone compassionate/connected care.

We learned about Alexandra Drane’s (co-founder of Engage with Grace) Vulnerability Index. The index measures such life conditions as financial stress or caring for an aging parent and quantifies the impact these issues can have on a patient’s health:

  • 36 percent of respondents struggle with at least two conditions
  • People dealing with 4 to 5 stressful “life” conditions are over 5x more likely to report bad health
  • Approximately 80 percent of respondents are willing to accept support for these “unmentionable” conditions from a doctor or health plan, as would a similar number from their employer. For those challenged with caring for an aging parent, that rate exceeds 95 percent.

Dana Marshall-Bernstein and Dr. Feza Remzi shared their rich patient and physician story. Dana talked about her inspiration for creating the documentary, “Semicolon; The Adventures of Ostomy Girl,” which can be viewed here.

I also learned these pretty telling statistics:

  • 60-80% of the medical information patients are given is forgotten immediately.
  • 50% do not get meds filled and or don’t take them after they are filled.
  • 35-50% leave without understanding their care plan.
  • Patient activation can lower costs up to 21%.
  • The cost of nurse burn-out, or disengagement, is steep – an average of $44,000 to replace one nurse.

All of the presentations and data point to the great work our patient and family member advisors are engaged in and, also, where our program can have an impact in the future. Overall, the major take-away from the summit for me was learning that it is possible to strategically build a culture of empathetic care in our health care system.

The 2016 Patient Experience Summit will be held by Cleveland Clinic May 15-18. To learn more, visit http://www.empathyandinnovation.com/Home.aspx.

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