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Executive Q&A with Susan Goodbody-Murray, Director of Social Work and Chief Experience Officer at Blythedale Children’s Hospital

One upside to healthcare’s complexity: there’s a wealth of perspectives to bring to bear on every issue. People from every facet of the industry contribute something unique.

In this installment of Executive Q&A, Susan Goodbody-Murray, the Director of Social Work and Chief Experience Officer at Blythedale Children’s Hospital, shows how the systems-thinking of social work contributes to a robust exchange of ideas at her organization.

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  1. What are you doing to strengthen your relationship with patients in today’s consumer-driven economy?
    We are listening and strongly encouraging open and honest feedback, and seeking it out during rounding on the patient floors and from all levels of staff. We are also working with staff to help shift the culture to appreciate the “customer service” side of healthcare and how important it is to be kind, to be attentive, and to be clear.
  1. How is your organization preparing and responding to Millennial consumers?
    We spent nearly a year involved in completely redoing our website. (Check it out…it launched in February, and I am so proud of it!) Through analytics provided by the design firm, we learned how many families use our website to access information, and held parent focus groups, did a parent survey, and spoke to referrers about what they wanted. The process also made our small workgroup (me and our CMO, CEO, and Director of Strategic Communications) sit down and start with, “Who are we and what do we do here? Who are our patients? What makes us unique?” which proved to be incredibly useful. We then addressed those issues, making the website fully mobile-friendly, gearing the content and language to what parents want (like a “what to expect on the first day” page with definitions of staff, etc.), and regularly adding patient videos and stories, as parents are clear that they like to read and see kids like their own. It has been very, very well received.
  1. How does your organization capitalize on the opportunity to break down silos within traditional healthcare?
    We developed an Ambassador Committee around our implementation of NRC, requesting volunteers from any departments who wanted to be a part of the group that would drive specific experience-improvement initiatives, spread the word about the new survey, etc. We have representatives from nearly 15 departments, including Dietary, Nursing, PT, Social Work, Child Life, and Environmental Services, and over the course of the last year, they have learned that our monthly meetings are a safe place to bring ideas, suggestions, and feedback. The united desire to make things better eliminates the barriers and fosters spirited conversations.
  1. In what areas do you feel your organization—and your patients—could most benefit from innovation?
    Our staff enjoys opportunities to get together for a common purpose. A new events committee has sponsored various events during the year, often centered around cupcakes and a new event, popcorn and a new patient video, etc., and this brings people together in a great way. Our patients will benefit most from our focus on trying to offer, as best we can for a small facility, increased amenities and parent-support services.
  1. Why is it important for healthcare providers and executives to embrace transparency?
    Without transparency, there are always barriers. I’m always surprised by how well parents who may be upset about an issue respond, when they are told what is being done to investigate or address it—even if there isn’t an answer right away or the outcome isn’t what they wanted. I think when leadership takes accountability for and acknowledges an issue, it brings the conversation to a more productive place.
  1. What is one piece of advice you can share with health-system boards or leaders to get them started down a path to make their care delivery more customer-centric?
    Listen to your frontline staff from all disciplines about not only the patient experience, but their own wishes, problems, and needs. Their experience and insight is invaluable. Staff who are happy and feel respected are inherently more customer-centric. Seek out their thoughts and be present in their work areas. Go to the floors, visit the IT area, stop by the kitchen. These things matter and give you a real feel for the pulse of the institution.

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“Go to the floors” is an excellent mantra to describe how Susan works. She understands that leaders can only learn what really goes on if they take the time to understand the perspectives of their customers and their colleagues. “Be present” is good advice for anyone—but it’s especially good advice for healthcare leaders.

For more insights like Susan’s, we invite you to keep reading our Executive Q&A series.

And if you have some thoughts to contribute yourself, we’d love to hear them. Reach out to mcharko@nrchealth.com so we can arrange an interview.