YNHH turns up the HEAT to create the Healing Environment for patients and families

Staff on Maternity Services (WP11) work hard to make their unit a quiet, healing environment for their patients who score the unit highly. Shown are some members of the unit's Patient and Family Experience Group who strive to minimize interruptions and improve collaboration between nurses and PCAs. They are (l-r): Karen Marcucci, RN, assistant patient service manager; Nicole Spaulding, RN; Kathy DeBlasio, RN; Emily Unger, PCA; and Steyfanie Hudgens, PCA.
Staff on Maternity Services (WP11) work hard to make their unit a quiet, healing environment for their patients who score the unit highly. Shown are some members of the unit's Patient and Family Experience Group who strive to minimize interruptions and improve collaboration between nurses and PCAs. They are (l-r): Karen Marcucci, RN, assistant patient service manager; Nicole Spaulding, RN; Kathy DeBlasio, RN; Emily Unger, PCA; and Steyfanie Hudgens, PCA.

Patients are clear about how they perceive their hospitalization or outpatient experience at Yale-New Haven Hospital. They share their opinions through regular surveys conducted by the government (HCAHPS) and by Press Ganey.

For the past 18 months, CMS (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid) has posted patient responses on its website so the public can compare hospitals in a variety of important areas. In addition, CMS is also reimbursing hospitals based on how patients grade their experience at the hospital.

"Our patients deserve and require a restful, clean and clutter-free environment in which they can heal," said Jeannette Hodge, director, Patient Relations, Volunteer and Guest Services. "Our goal is to be a prime destination hospital in the United States. To achieve that, we must get much better at delivering what patients expect when they are hospitalized or treated here."

While patient satisfaction scores for YNHH have steadily increased over the past few years, data show that patients give YNHH consistently low marks for the hospital's environment of care, which includes both its quietness and cleanliness.

In a new initiative called the Healing Environment, the hospital is focusing its approach on improving the experience patients have at YNHH. The Healing Environment reminds employees that the hospital is not simply their workplace — it is a healing place, for patients. Managers have already started training on the healing environment initiative and how the hospital is going to gauge its success.

Hodge and Michael Bennick, MD, medical director, Patient Experience, conducted manager training sessions last month with a few more sessions scheduled on Saint Raphael Campus in July.

Dr. Bennick will complete new house staff orientations this month so from their first day at Yale-New Haven, residents know what is expected of them to create a positive patient experience and a healing environment, and the important role they play in its success.

Strategies to bring up scores have been developed, including the new HEAT rounds and expected behaviors. HEAT stands for Healing Environment Assessment Team which is a dedicated team that will assess units with low patient satisfaction scores and/or high volumes. Hodge and Dr. Bennick noted that weekly HEAT audits will to be rolled out through July and August. HEAT audits are modeled after the hospital's safety and regulatory audits and results will be reported on a regular basis.

Based on the results of the audits, units and departments will create action plans to improve the environment in areas that need attention. Managers who have been trained are emphasizing with staff members the Healing Environment non-negotiable behaviors. All employees: