By Martie Moore
Today’s healthcare industry has seen dramatic changes in the patient experience. The success of our advancements in healthcare and technology has created far more complex, chaotic interactions. From simple check-ups to operating room procedures, some might argue that today’s patient has become more of a number as opposed to a human being with personal preferences, feelings and emotions. Patient Experience Week (April 27-May 1, 2015) helps us to take a moment and center ourselves back to what is truly the heart of healthcare – care and compassion.
The patients of today are not the patients of yesteryear. There are far more chronic illnesses and multi-diagnoses that must be properly managed. According to the American Hospital Association, nearly half of today’s seniors are living with two or more chronic conditions. On top of this, the pace of healthcare has rapidly increased, the length of stay has shortened and coordination of care has lessened. All of these changes contribute to the overall problem in today’s patient experience – patients lost in the maze of confusion and fragmentation. This issue can be largely attributed to the fact that our systems of care have been designed to aid the caregivers in their work, and not around the patient and his or her needs. Caregiving has become a task with numbers to be reached and money to be made, and there may be times we completely miss the human connection, which is the most important task of all.
Healthcare has not always been this way. It is hard work to change culture and redefine what is truly important. However, with enough discussion and education, we can gradually get back to what healthcare is supposed to be about – providing care, support and compassion to our patients.
Everyone who plays a role in healthcare can contribute to the state of the patient experience. Medline’s latest solutions in patient experience highlight how modifications large and small can make a meaningful impact. Some examples include hospital gowns that tie on the side for added modesty, colorful, pajama-like pediatric patient gowns that are snuggly soft and clinician friendly, room design that reflects a homey feel, advanced wound and skin care products that enhance comfort and resources for post-discharge to help prevent readmissions among home care and hospice patients.
Our new CarePac™ has proven that small comfort products—such as ear plugs, eye masks, premium lip balm, and a notebook for the patient or family to jot down questions about care—can help meet a patient’s emotional needs and promote a special connection between patients and hospital staff.
A couple of years ago I needed emergency surgery. I was ill, exhausted and frightened. I was also the acting CNO at the time and being cared for by my team. It was hard for me to let go and let them take care of me. Caregivers are the worst about allowing caring actions to support them. We are used to giving it to others, so it is hard for us to let go. As I moved onto the OR table, I was anxious but didn't want to let them know that I was scared so I was joking and talking like a magpie. When I stopped to catch my breath, one of the OR Nurses quietly came over, touched my shoulder, looked me in the eyes and with love and compassion said, "It’s going to be okay. I will be your eyes and ears while you’re asleep. I will make sure that everything goes as if you were awake and able to direct your care. I am here for you." The tension left my body and I reached up to capture her hand. Patient experience is about active listening, being mindful about the moment and conveying what human beings crave - connection, empathy and partnership. It has to be a conscious action. The OR nurse easily could have left me alone knowing soon I would be given medication that would send me off to another state of being. In her moment of mindfulness, she saw what was underlying and moved into the moment to ease my way and convey the message she wanted me to know - she cared about me.
Active listening can also make a huge difference in providing a complete, caring and compassionate patient experience. By simply listening to your patients, you will learn so much about each of their personal stories and individual needs, which will allow you to provide the best experience possible for them. When I slowed down enough to really listen, I learned so much about my patients and those they loved. We all want to be heard and acknowledged as human entities.
Medline celebrates with facilities the special human connection between healthcare professionals, patients and their families. This important week also is a reminder of the significant impact one positive interaction can have on a patient.
Martie Moore is chief nursing officer of Medline Industries, Inc. based in Mundelein, Ill. In this role, Moore provides nursing leadership for solution-driven clinical programs, delivers product development to enhance bedside practice and launches quality initiatives across the continuum of care. With what she learned during the nearly 30 years of clinical experience and extensive executive leadership, Moore now develops forward-thinking solutions and programs for those in the field today. Prior to joining Medline, Moore was the chief nursing officer at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Ore., a hospital within Providence Health & Services and a designated Magnet facility. Learn more about Medline by visiting www.medline.com or visit http://www.medline.com/social-media to connect with Medline on a variety of social media channels.