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Healthcare leaders Q&A: Aligning mission and culture

NRC Health recently interviewed several nationally recognized healthcare leaders on the critical role Human Understanding plays in healthcare to drive growth, personalize care, build trust, drive loyalty and equity, transform services, and help providers exceed expectations. Here’s what leaders had to say about how Human Understanding affects their organization’s mission and culture.

Q. How does Human Understanding translate to your organizational mission and culture?

A Unified Mission to Care and Build Relationships

“They say that if you walked the halls of NASA in the 1960s and bumped into a janitor and asked them what their job was, they would have said, ‘I put a man on the moon,’” says Ken Kozielski, Vice President of Customer Experience at Orlando Health. “Here, we want every person to say, ‘I build relationships.’ Patients are an important part of our customer base, but we’re defining customers as anybody we would ask to choose Orlando Health. And the experience is everything—every touchpoint in sequence, from the time they figure out there’s a health system called Orlando Health through their entire continuum of care. We want to build relationships with everybody. We really believe that that’s what’s going to make us stand out.”

“At Christiana Care, our CEO, Dr. Janice Nevin, often says that our mission is profound but simple, and that is that we take care of people,” says Mike Puchtler, Vice President of Patient Experience at Christiana Care Health System. “I think human understanding really does create that connection and allow us to care for people in the ways that are most meaningful to them.

“As we all know, in the patient-experience base, there’s a lot of literature that connects an improved patient experience with better quality and safety outcomes,” he adds. “And so I think, for us, really leaning into human understanding culturally allows us to achieve that mission of taking care of people.”

Seeing Each Patient as a Unique Person

Jennifer Baron, CPXP, Chief Experience Officer at UC Davis Health, says their organization’s mission is about the future of healthcare. “We need to be able to include our patients and families in helping us to design programs and services that are forward-facing and meaningful to the people that we serve,” she says.

“Human understanding is a critically important part of what we do,” explains Steve Telliano, M.A., Assistant Vice Chancellor of Strategic Communications for UC Davis Health. “We’ve been rolling out a campaign about ‘See Me as a Person,’ which is about understanding the individual patient. It’s not just patients in the aggregate—it’s an understanding that every patient is a unique individual. Every patient has different needs and different perceptions, and they’re in a different place, and we need to meet them there. But at the same time, there are also some things that we can do that are good for all patients.”

Telliano says that it’s really a combination of understanding what they can do to improve the patient experience in the big picture. “How can we make it smoother, easier, more accessible for patients to get care, then move beyond that to personalize that care so patients feel seen, heard, and understood?” he says. “Then we’ve really made a personal connection.”

Understanding That Care Happens Outside the Walls of the Hospital

“Human understanding is truly baked into our entire ecosystem at Nemours Children’s Health all the way up to the very highest level,” says Kira Theesfeld, Manager of Strategic Partnerships at Nemours Children’s Health. “When we think about our bold strategy to redefine children’s health, we are very aware that 80% of a child’s health happens outside the walls of our facilities, and embracing social determinants and taking care of that whole child is a big part of what we do.

“Within my team at the Center for Health Delivery Innovation, we are always focused on the family and the healthcare journey and optimizing that,” Theesfeld continues. “We think about how we can make it simpler, how we can help patients and families understand—whether it’s a complex medical condition or a diagnosis. We develop tools and content to make health simpler and less scary, and to improve the experience.”


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