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New toolkit helps YNHHS improve patient experience

A new toolkit aims to help Yale New Haven Health improve the patient experience – one person at a time, every single time. 

The Patient Experience Department developed the toolkit based on an analysis of comments on patient experience surveys. The patient experience includes aspects of healthcare delivery that patients value highly, such as timely appointments, easy access to information and good communication with healthcare providers. On surveys, patients can indicate whether a specific aspect happens “always,” “usually,” “sometimes” or “never.”

“Patient Experience is not an initiative, a project or something we choose to do – it is a critical part of patient care,” said Tina Bennett, interim leader of Patient Experience, YNHHS. “Patient experience is part of everything we do: in every department, every process, every interaction. It’s what our patients hear, see and feel while they are here.” 

In 2021, YNHHS received nearly 225,000 patient experience surveys that generated more than 280,000 patient comments. At the end of the survey, patients are asked if they would recommend the hospital where they received care to others.

 “For 2022, our overall goal is that when our patients are asked if they would recommend Yale New Haven Health, the answer is always ‘yes,’” Bennett said.

Several specific areas at YNHH have been targeted for 2022. 

“Patients are telling us we need to focus on improving our caring behaviors, clinical excellence and operational efficiency,” she said. “We do well often, but we must focus on doing well always. The good news is that patient loyalty and likelihood to recommend our organization are driven by factors that are within the control of staff at all levels.”

To help staff achieve those goals, the toolkit includes a “huddle calendar” with talking points, monthly screensaver messages focusing on key standards of behavior, thank-you cards for patients and a guidebook with detailed, evidence-based resources to ensure a positive patient experience. 

“The patients are telling us where we need to be. The toolkit shows us how to get there,” said Bennett. “Our vision for patient experience is that it grows from being something that we do to who we are. Our goal is to deliver an exceptional experience to every person – every time.” 

Units using the toolkit report that their efforts are beginning to bear fruit.  

“The toolkit provides detailed guidance to frontline leaders on how to align efforts to achieve the corporate objectives,” said Chika Anueyiagu, RN, clinical program director, Surgical Services, YNHH. “It also contains an accountability process with an ‘initiative tracker,’ which helps us submit and track service-line goals, incorporate goals into staff members’ performance evaluations and engage frontline staff with monthly or weekly themes.”  

“The huddle calendar is easy to use and provides guidance on huddle topics,” said Kathleen Beattie, RN, assistant patient services manager, Transplant and Liver Unit (WP 9). “Our unit strategies focus on responsiveness and communication. The drill down into the communication questions is helpful to share with staff as we work to improve our overall scores.”

“The toolkit makes it very easy to identify focus points for patient experience. As a group, we have selected the thank-you cards as an intervention. Our patients usually have multiple touchpoints within our service line, so it was important to choose an intervention that could become part of our care signature,” said Andrea Murrell, RN, patient services manager, Heart and Vascular Center, Medical-Surgical Stepdown unit (SP 5-3). 

The patient experience improvement toolkit has been distributed to all managers and is available to download from the department’s intranet site. Other resources on the site include a discussion board, news updates, events calendar and submission form for service requests. Visit Patient Experience on the intranet (network only).