A comprehensive approach to enhance patient experience

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When Gordon Newman was invited to join William Osler Health System’s (Osler) Patient Experience Advisory Committee, he eagerly accepted. As a former patient, Gordon knew his experiences could be used to help inform and enhance the care other patients receive at the hospital.

In his role on the Committee, Gordon is one of 20 Patient Experience Advisors who provide advice and guidance on a range of topics and issues, including everything from the hospital’s welcome pamphlets and visitors’ policy, to parking and wayfinding.

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“I enjoy having the opportunity to be heard and to positively affect the experiences others have at the hospital,” says Newman. “Being on this committee is a great way for me to give back to the hospital that has given so much to me and my family.”

Osler is one the largest community hospitals in Canada, serving a growing and ethnically diverse population of more than 1.3 million people. Patient Experience is a pillar of Osler’s service delivery, and is used as a metric to help the hospital consistently meet the varied needs of the community it serves to ensure every patient who comes through its doors has equitable access to quality healthcare. To help achieve this, Osler focuses on creating an inclusive environment that is respectful of various cultural, religious and spiritual practices and communication needs.

“The Patient Experience Advisors are integral to helping us capture the voice of the patient by ensuring their perspectives are included wherever and whenever possible,” says Susan deRyk, Joint VP, Patient Experience, Communications and Strategy, Central West Community Care Access Centre, Headwaters Health Care Centre and William Osler Health System. “Our focus is to go beyond the excellent clinical care we already deliver to ensure all interactions, in all corners of our hospitals are compassionate and patient-inspired.”

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Patient Experience at Osler encompasses every touch-point a patient or visitor has with the hospital, and as a result, both clinical and non-clinical staff play an important role in helping Osler achieve high patient satisfaction.

Osler’s Service Excellence Call Centre plays an integral role in capturing patient feedback – contacting every inpatient within 48 hours of discharge to ask a few short questions about their stay, including how they were treated, whether they would recommend the hospital to others and if they have any suggestions for improving. The data collected from each call is stored in a secured hospital database and is used immediately to help better understand and evaluate each patient’s experience, celebrate success stories, and identify where staff and physicians can focus their energies to further improve the patient experience.

“The information we capture through the call centre is used to inform decisions that help us ensure we are delivering care that respects the traditions, religions and culture of patients and their families,” says deRyk. “It also reminds both clinical and non-clinical staff to continue to keep patient experience top-of-mind in every interaction at our hospital.”

Osler’s successful Palliative Care Skype Program, is an example of an initiative that was conceived because staff identified an opportunity to enhance the care of patients on their unit. The hospital serves a large immigrant population and sometimes patients are unable to see loved ones who live abroad because of time and financial constraints, or challenges obtaining a visa to enter Canada. This is exceptionally difficult for end of life patients who wish to reconnect with family members thousands of miles away.

Staff from various departments worked together to create the Palliative Care Skype Program – a program that utilizes inexpensive technology to provide patients and their loves ones with an otherwise impossible connection.

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“It was heartbreaking to see patients die without being able to connect with their loved ones. Now, when dying mothers can see and talk to their children, or young adults with their parents, it is comforting to know that we were able to make this happen during such a difficult time in their lives,” says Gurwinder Gill, Director, Equity and Volunteer Services, and the program’s co-sponsor.

Osler is pleased with the feedback the program has received and sees its success as one of many indications that staff are keeping the Patient Experience at the heart of everything they do.