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Missed this year’s Pediatric Collaborative? Here are the highlights.

This year’s Pediatric Collaborative struck an unmistakable note of optimism. Though the pandemic lingers on, we have begun for the first time to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It was in that hopeful spirit that this year’s speakers explored some of the questions that COVID-19 had raised. Questions like: How can an organization create a consistent patient experience while everything around them is changing? How can leaders keep staff members engaged, even amidst the worst distress of their careers?

Inspired leaders from two distinguished pediatric institutions explored these issues with this year’s attendees.

In case you missed the Collaborative this time around, here are some highlights from their talks.

Delivering consistent experiential excellence

Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Health Network, Tacoma, Washington

Anna Ahrens, MA, CCLS, Mary Bridge’s director of transformation and experience, kicked off the event with a talk centered around consistency.

Mary Bridge already knew that their providers delivered outstanding care. What they wanted, however, was to ensure that they lived up to that standard for every patient, every time. Not an easy bar to clear.

“We wanted to see an experience where you saw that excellence, no matter what kind of care you needed or where you ended up in our organization,” Ahrens said.

Ahrens and her team understood that such a robust standard of care would require a powerful cultural commitment. Here’s how they set about creating it.

Defining the goal

First, they took the time to assess where they stood.

They assembled an interdisciplinary team, from across all wings of the organization, to perform a comprehensive needs assessment. They used best practices defined by other health organizations, firsthand observations from the floor, and data from NRC Health’s Real-time Feedback surveys to mark opportunities for improvement.

“This is how we figured out what we wanted to change, by hearing it straight from our people—the patients,” Ahrens said.

From there, the team used their observations to create Mary Bridge’s Care Promises concept.

These Care Promises represent the fourfold gold standard of care to which every staff member at Mary Bridge pledges themselves. They embody four qualities that characterize a meaningful patient encounter:

With these promises so defined, the goal for Mary Bridge’s experience team became clear: to ensure that every provider embodied these values in every patient encounter.

Sustaining the vision

This, of course, was no small task. To have any hope of success, the experience team would have to drive home the seriousness of the institution’s commitment to these values.

One way they did that was to enlist clinicians to perform in a series of educational video shorts, alongside real Mary Bridge patients.

“Inviting our providers to perform is a great way to keep everyone invested and involved,” Ahrens said.

And the team continues to reinforce these lessons using real patient comments, derived from NRC Health’s Real-time Feedback.

“It’s most meaningful when you hear it straight from our people, our patients,” Ahrens said.

In all, Core Promises has been a radically transformative initiative at Mary Bridge—and one that continues to influence the staff today.

Engaging employees through recognition

Children’s Mercy Kansas City, Kansas City, Kansas

The next talk from health-system leaders centered around the vital topic of employee engagement.

The importance of engagement

Amanda Montalbano, MD, started the conversation by pointing out how devastating disengagement can be.

Aside from lower care standards and a decline in patient would-recommend scores, disengagement can be dangerous: disengaged clinicians experience far more safety events than their peers.

Fortunately, Dr. Montalbano offers a straightforward solution: recognition.

“Recognition is a stronger motivator than even a 5% salary increase,” Dr. Montalbano says. “It’s the single most effective solution for keeping clinicians engaged.”

Anatomy of a recognition program

So how does Children’s Mercy approach recognition? Mandy Reimer, a patient experience specialist, explained.

“Our focus was on three things: small wins, continuous patient experience excellence, and a sustainable effort that leads to improved scores,” Reimer said.

With that mission statement in mind, the team constructed an Awards program to recognize outstanding performers within Children’s Mercy.

Drawing from data in two different NRC Health solutions, the organization created three awards to celebrate their staff:

1) The Top Box Rockstar

This award was granted to providers who received exclusively top-box ratings within a 30-day period. Identified using data from NRC Health’s Transparency solution, winning clinicians received physical cards with hand-signed letters of congratulations.

Letters were also sent to the division directors who oversaw these rockstars, in order to acknowledge the role their leadership had played in the outcome.

2) The Shining Star

This award, particularly prestigious, used NRC Health Transparency data to identify the top-rated clinician for a 12-month period.  As Reimer put it, “This is our People’s Choice award.”

Winners received a certificate, a lapel pin, an in-person congratulations from the CEO, and an award attached to their online profile:

3) The Rising Star

Finally, drawing from NRC Health’s Real-time Feedback data, this award was granted to the clinicians and units whose experience scores improved the most in a year.

Granting a plaque, balloons, and treats to these award-winners helped them feel celebrated for a job well done.

Putting it all together

Finally, Katie Taff, the hospital’s director of patient and family engagement, walked through the return on investment for a program like this.

She pointed out that, as far as impact goes, it’s hard to argue with the results:

Even through a pandemic, the trend of topline results in patient feedback was unambiguously positive.

And the cost?

“We spend a total of $2,200 per year facilitating this award program,” Taff said. “Including all the supplies, treats, and everything.”

It’s hard to imagine a better return on investment than that.

“It goes to show that with a little ingenuity, you can have an outsized effect on how people feel about working in your organization,” Taff said.

See us next year!

These were just a few of the insights shared in the talks at this year’s collaborative. The real value, as ever, came from the attendees themselves. The best moments come from like-minded leaders exchanging ideas, sharing their visions, and participating in a conversation to reform pediatric care for the better.

If you couldn’t attend this year, be sure to keep an eye out for announcements of the 2022 Pediatric Collaborative—with luck, our return to meeting in-person.

We hope to see you there!