Inside the Patient Experience—Elizabeth’s Journey #5

Posted by Kristin Baird on May 9th, 2011 • No Comments »

This is the fifth entry in my in-depth interview with a patient undergoing cancer treatment.

Health care workers know the value of solid teamwork. We rely on it to create efficiencies and to balance talents, skills and workload. But from the patient experience, teamwork takes on a whole new meaning. Patients know when a team is on the same page. They also know when there’s discontentment. Elizabeth’s examples here shed light on just how important it is to have a positive work environment.


I had another round of tests today which lasted two hours instead of the four that they predicted. That was a pleasant surprise.  The staff was wonderful.  I was treated as if I was the only patient in the world and the relationships between the physician and x-ray techs were wonderful.  They joked and chatted among themselves and with me which made the time fly and helped me forget how uncomfortable I was on the table. That happens a lot here.  Whenever I ask anyone how they like working for this organization I hear “I love it!”  They rave about the benefits, the learning opportunities, and the interesting patients they meet.  When I ask someone how long they’ve worked here, more often than not they cite a number that represents their whole career.  I’m often told that they wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.  The satisfaction of the employees is clearly reflected in how they interact with one another and with me as a patient.

What a contrast to my other experience when I was hospitalized in Denver.  There I ended up on occasion in a bed in the hall waiting for a room to become available.  Managed care was just getting into full swing at the time, which meant that doctors and nurses had far more paper work to do to get authorization from insurance companies and the staff/patient ratio was ridiculously high.  Everyone was overworked and no one was happy. I heard a lot of complaining and I often felt like a burden and unless I desperately needed something I didn’t ask for a thing.

I say this because I’m so grateful for the atmosphere here, and the comprehensive care I get.

When I asked Elizabeth what exactly made her feel like the only patient in the world she said, “They were just so attentive. Even when they were addressing one another, they made it clear that I was part of the discussion, not an observer. I hate when the nurses and doctors talk over me and about me like I’m not there. This team is truly a team.”

Curious about her experience in Denver, I asked how she had known about the paperwork and the staffing ratios. She said, “They told me. I think every person that came in the room was stressed and complained about the workload. You could tell that they were all unhappy. Like I said, I made sure never to bother them unless it was absolutely necessary.”

How the staff interact with each other has a direct impact on the patient experience. In Elizabeth’s example she clearly demonstrates how the interaction between the physician and the staff shaped her recent experience in a positive and memorable way. When they talk about how much they love their jobs, she feels more confident in the care. The current example of her positive interaction stands in sharp contrast to a previous experience where employees openly complain about staffing, paperwork and workload.  In that example, she recalls being reluctant to ask for anything. What are your employees saying and doing that influence the patient experience?

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Baird Consulting

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