Patient Experience Week 2022: celebrating our shared commitment to patient-centered care

Together, we are the patient experience

In 2014, The Beryl Institute officially launched Patient Experience (PX) Week to celebrate healthcare workers impacting patient experience every day. At HCA Healthcare, everyone plays a role in ensuring that our patients receive the care and attention that not only meets their needs, but also exceeds their expectations.

During this weeklong celebration, we recognize all colleagues – each and every role that works to deliver healthier tomorrows for our patients.

To HCA Healthcare’s more than 283,000 colleagues, thank you for standing for accessible, high-quality healthcare delivered with compassion, integrity and kindness. Thank you for your commitment to providing healthcare that puts people first.

Our responsibility as care providers

At HCA Healthcare, we have physicians, nurses and many other colleagues working across 182 hospitals and more than 2,300 other sites of care.  Our teams help thousands of patients every day, and we are responsible for more than 35 million patient encounters annually.  We have the honor of caring for 6% of all U.S. patients, and we use this experience to help drive healthcare transformation nationwide. We strive to make HCA Healthcare a place where caregivers can practice the highest quality, safest, most efficient patient care – all of which are key to a positive patient experience.

Through the pandemic, we have cared for more than 271,000 COVID-19 inpatients from February 2020 to December 2021 – more than any other health system in the country.  Data from this experience improves COVID care at our bedsides, and shared learnings have had a research impact worldwide.  Even in the most challenging times, our colleagues have gone above and beyond to provide an excellent patient experience and care for our patients like family.  Together, we are the patient experience.

Compassionate, connected care

We leverage Press Ganey’s Compassionate Connected Care (CCC) model as a framework to structure action and ensure an optimal patient experience.  It serves as a critical strategy for organizations to deliver high-quality, patient-centric care, allowing leaders and managers to focus their improvement resources in an efficient and effective way. 

The model is divided into four aspects of patient care — clinical, operational, behavioral and cultural — and presents clinicians with tangible and tactical solutions to connect with patients to deliver patient-centric care. Six themes emerge from the model:

  • Acknowledge Suffering
  • Body Language Matters
  • Anxiety is Suffering
  • Coordinate Care
  • Caring Transcends Diagnosis
  • Autonomy Reduces Suffering

CCC focuses on providing the sustained implementation of caring behaviors. It provides instruction and insight to help all care providers and staff learn how to avoid common pitfalls of learning initiatives by applying the ‘Five Keys to Sustainable Skills Transfer.’ As part of the program, participants gain access to a series of activities that, when implemented on a monthly basis, help sustain performance over time.

Measuring the moments that matter

HCA Healthcare has long been committed to understanding patient satisfaction, and we continuously evaluate patient feedback to improve the patient experience.  We do this by providing our diverse patient populations with relatable patient surveys that are easy to access. Along with a traditional mail feedback approach, we include text, e-mail and social media feedback channels.  Recently, we began using natural language processing and artificial intelligence to better analyze the vast comments received in survey data and on social media.  All of this allows us to leverage our data to better meet the needs of patients, and we recently were recognized for our patient review management strategies by Becker’s Healthcare for being #2 of 15 health systems that RepTrak deemed as having the best patient reviews. 

Still, we recognize that providing an excellent patient experience is a work in progress.  Given our scale ever-changing technology, we have the opportunity to fundamentally change how patients experience the healthcare system and manage their healthcare needs.  In early 2021, we began evaluating new opportunities to improve patient engagement through patient research and internal stakeholder interviews.  This body of research builds on what we know from surveys and leverages direct patient feedback from across the care continuum to reduce pain points and impact the moments that matter.

Over the last 16 months, we have redefined Patient Engagement, established a core set of goals for achieving our vision and aligned to a core set of capabilities.  Phase 1 of our new Patient Engagement program is set to deliver a mobile-first experience to patients that will provide transparency into their healthcare journey, reducing friction and enabling them to be active members of their care team.  To see this vision through, we will build foundational capabilities in data, measurement and patient education, and we will achieve this vision by establishing a single, collaborative roadmap delivered by cross-functional teams.  By bringing together stakeholders from across the enterprise to work together on a single vision, we can leverage the power of HCA Healthcare to deliver a meaningfully different experience for our patients.

Caring like family

A healing hand

Claire Banholzer, BSN, RN, Menorah Medical Center created a “healing hand” to help her patients cope with isolation during the pandemic.

Claire Banholzer, an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse at HCA Healthcare’s Menorah Medical Center, says that the patient experience is the sum of everything done to care for our patients. “I think it’s important to realize that behind every diagnosis is a human being with needs, and that means not treating every patient the same,” Claire said.

Compassion has always been a central element in providing quality care, and the COVID-19 pandemic has brought this to the forefront. Care teams became a key source of support for patients attempting to cope with isolation and quarantine strategies designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Seeking to help her patients manage isolation during the pandemic, Claire developed what she calls a “healing hand” for patients to grasp when they felt stressed, anxious or lonely without a loved one nearby.

The “healing hand” design features a rubber surgical glove filled with gel-like solution and water, heated to room temperature for a human-like feel.

Image of Claire's "healing hand", a rubber surgical glove filled with gel-like solution and water

“It started out as a stress ball for a patient who had a long stay in the ICU,” Claire recalls. “It helped him cope, and the fact that it’s in the shape of a hand made him feel comforted. After that first one, I made another for a fellow nurse who was having a rough day. As I was carrying it, I noticed it really is so comforting to hold – like a loved one holding your hand in a time of need.”

The HCA Healthcare nurse now makes it a point to provide her patients with a “healing hand” to grasp to help meet their physiological and emotional needs.

“Patients seem to find comfort in them, and families are touched by the simple gesture to make their loved ones feel less alone,” Claire said.

Claire knows that her role as a nurse not only allows her to provide compassionate care but also innovative care at the bedside of each patient she serves. “The one constant I give all of my patients – and their families – is that I truly care and treat them as I would my own family,” Claire said.

A last wish fulfilled

A touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, genuine acts of kindness – all have the power to make a difference in the lives of our patients. In March 2022, caregivers and colleagues at HCA Florida Fort Walton-Destin Hospital demonstrated compassion and empathy in a powerful patient care moment.

After an eight-month battle with amyloidosis, a rare disease that can lead to life-threatening organ failure, Jennifer Reckner’s final wish was to see her twin sons graduate from high school in May.

With Jennifer’s condition deteriorating, it became clear that she might not live to see the day. To help her wish come true, our colleagues worked with Jennifer’s loved ones and school officials to arrange an impromptu commencement ceremony in the halls of the hospital’s intensive care unit.  

Family and hospital colleagues showed up — with countless others joining virtually — to celebrate Logan and Lauchlan Reckner as their mother watched from her hospital bed. “That was her wish,” Jennifer’s husband of nearly 23 years, Stephen Reckner, said. “She got to that point where she realized there were not many things she was going to get to see happen. Those are her babies.”

Two teenagers in graduation caps and gowns hugging a woman in a hospital bed
HCA Healthcare colleagues helped 48-year-old patient Jennifer Reckner fulfill her final wish to see her twin sons graduate from high school.

With music playing in the background, the 17-year-old brothers made their way down the ICU hallway donning caps and gowns, where they hugged and kissed their mom before being presented with diplomas from Navarre High School. Loved ones cheered, clapped and cried. And Jennifer’s husband expressed his gratitude to those who made it possible for her to be a part of their sons’ special day. “Thanks to everyone here,” he said.

Jennifer passed away days later, having seen her final wish come true.

Advocating for patients

Across HCA Healthcare, patient advocates share a commitment to ensuring our patients’ voices are heard. Patient advocates work to promote positive patient and family-centered care by serving as an advocate of service excellence. Their roles are unique and special and can truly make a difference for people throughout the healthcare journey.

Registered nurse Mark Lisonbee – director of patient experience at HCA Healthcare’s Medical City McKinney in Texas – and his team often receive requests to assist with solving nonmedical and logistical challenges patients may experience. Mark says many of the calls he receives involve care plans and visitation concerns – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. “If we identify a need, whether it’s communication or visitation or some other issue, we want to try to help to do the right thing,” said Mark. “I try to step in and help to resolve any gaps in communication and make sure we’re being thorough.”

Mark has also helped with positive patient or family requests at his hospital, such as organizing a graduation ceremony, assisting a patient virtually attending a wedding and planning a surprise birthday party.

Recently, Medical City McKinney’s phone operator directed a family to Mark with an end-of-life request for their loved one. After that phone call, Mark went to work to ensure that the patient was able to spend several hours with his wife before she passed. The patient’s family called the time the couple was able to spend together to say goodbye “a small miracle.”

In The New York Times, read about Mark’s efforts to help patients feel comfortable, safe, valued and respected.

Mark Lisonbee (left), director of patient experience at HCA Healthcare’s Medical City McKinney, was recently spotlighted in The New York Times for assisting a patient’s family with an end-of-life request. Pictured with Melody Dy (right), medical-surgical manager.

“I do” in the ICU

In November 2021, HCA Healthcare caregivers and colleagues helped organize a dream wedding at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, for COVID-19 patient Fernando Nino and his fiancé.

Two months earlier, the 42-year-old Palestine Police Department officer had fallen critically ill with COVID-19. Fernando’s fiancé, Michele Hebert, was told by other hospital systems that he might not pull through.

Her prayers were answered when he was selected to receive Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) at Methodist Hospital. In ECMO, blood is pumped outside of the body to a heart-lung machine that removes carbon dioxide and sends oxygen-filled blood back into the tissues. The treatment allows the heart and lungs to rest and heal.

“He was on a machine for 76 days,” Michele recalls. “For every one good day, there were two weeks that something would happen, and he’d get even sicker.”

Fernando remained in the hospital’s lung rescue intensive care unit while his body recovered from the residual effects of the virus. For many weeks, Michele refused to believe that her fiancé might not leave the hospital again.

With the weight of the unknown on their shoulders, Michele and Fernando decided to wed at Methodist Hospital on November 17, 2021 – the same day as Michele’s birthday. Fernando’s nurses wasted no time helping the couple to orchestrate the bedside wedding – complete with cake, flowers and balloons.

Couple exchanging wedding vows in the hospital
HCA Healthcare patient Fernando Niño and Michele Herbert got married on November 17, 2021, at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio as he battled COVID-19.

“We had our hospital family – which was all the doctors, the surgeons, the nurses, administration, doctors that were off that day – they actually came in just to be there with us, and they made it all happen,” said Michele.

After the newlyweds celebrated, Michele shared remarks of pure gratitude for Fernando’s care team and their tireless efforts to save his life. “Thank you all so much for everything that you’ve done and do every single day,” said Michele. “Not just for him [Fernando]. But you all work endlessly; it is amazing that you can work day in and day out and still continue through the bad. Thank you for not giving up, and thank you all so much for doing all the work that you do.”

Their marriage brought the newlyweds much-needed joy, which helped motivate Fernando to get better every day. He was released from the hospital after five months, just in time to celebrate Valentine’s Day outside of the hospital. Fernando is now using his second chance at life to continue serving his community as a police officer.

Watch Fernando and Michele’s hospital wedding celebration below:

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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