Cleveland Clinic leadership on patient input: 'We have a responsibility to stay curious'

The COVID-19 crisis has both complicated and spotlighted patient experience, with the safety of individuals sometimes at odds with their desires.

Healthcare leaders at the HIMSS & Cleveland Clinic Patient Experience Digital Series said this week that honesty, transparency and vulnerability should be at the forefront of responding to the pandemic with patients in mind.

When it comes to limiting potential coronavirus spread, for instance, it’s important to think of visitors as essential care partners, said Adrienne Boissy, Cleveland Clinic chief experience officer, during an audience Q&A.

“The question is how we enable [visiting] when we know we’re in the midst of a pandemic,” said Boissy.

At Cleveland Clinic, the answer is guided by four metrics, she explained: the county emergency guidance, caregiver positivity rate, patient positivity rate and community prevalence.

“We look at those measures every week as a multidisciplinary team and make decisions on visitation,” explained Boissy. She also noted that they involve patients as part of the messaging process whenever possible.

One challenge, said Boissy, is honoring patient preference for visitors. “We need to keep asking about safety as part of the patient experience,” she said.

When hard decisions have to be made, said Alan Dubovsky, chief experience officer for Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles, transparency in messaging is key.

“If you’re honest with people, it helps soften the blow,” said Dubovsky.

When it comes to patient codesign, Dubovsky and Boissy said that established practices of soliciting input were no longer feasible.

Dubovsky said his system has moved patient family and advisory councils to virtual groups, with an online patient panel and feedback opportunities. 

“We have found a lot of virtual ways of continuing that patient and family voice,” he said.

Boissy, meanwhile, stressed the importance of recognizing that one patient does not speak for all patients.

“We have a responsibility to stay curious,” she said. “Don’t get wedded to one way” of doing things.

Given the unlikelihood of improvements happening around COVID-19 anytime soon, both leaders stressed the importance of maintaining communication and empathy.

Boissy said that if systems take care of providers, “they will show up and do their best and be their fullest self.”

At the same time, said Dubovsky, “We need to remind patients, ‘We’re your support system when others can’t be there for you.'”


Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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