Stephen Meth, chief experience officer at Ontario, Calif.-based Prime Healthcare,
discusses the value of good communication, reliability and why passive
teaching cannot drive behavioral change.
Editor's Note: Responses have been edited for clarity and length.
Question: What is the most important lesson you have learned about delivering
excellent patient experience?
Stephen Meth: Delivering excellent patient experience is an iterative endeavor that
must be consistent in application. With focused attention from Prime Healthcare
senior leadership, we developed a road map that progressed to our entire
45-hospital system in stages to address people, processes and systems
that ensure we catch and resolve frequently occurring issues in real time.
At the same time, our path highlights examples of our people as they show
that healthcare delivery, in every role, is about forming therapeutic
relationships with our customers where communication skills are as valued
as the high quality of care delivered. Demonstrable empathy and sharing
stories of how health ties into what is most important — all of
this matters and is the heart of our work.
Q: What are some common missteps hospitals make in their patient experience
SM: There seems to be an irresistible temptation to relegate behavioral change
to passive teaching. Be it posters, badge buddies or reminders posted
on computers on wheels, we have found that these efforts are not making
a positive difference. Face-to-face, simulation-based training followed
by direct observation and structured feedback are tried and true tactics
that we supplement with digital apps and real-time analytics.
Q: What has been the most successful patient experience initiative at your
SM: Communication skills training — for example, after each face-to-face
training, we feel it's important to have adult learners use five to
10 minutes to self-reflect on what resonates, what they immediately find
value in integrating into their practice, and if anything doesn't
make sense or continues to be a struggle, we want to know about it and
work with them directly. We have found this quick and improvised step
is invaluable in translating more of what's practiced in simulation
training to actual patient care.
Q: What excites you most about the future of your role?
SM: Nothing excites me more than reliability. I light up hearing a new story
about how safety and experience work thoughtfully and serendipitously
align. I also get excited mapping known patient dissatisfiers, both large
and small, and reducing their frequency and severity. At Prime Healthcare,
we've tried to systematize creating authentic, unexpected and delightful
moments for our customers — and you guessed it — reliability
is my primary focus in advancing this work.