Skip to content

Patient Experience warrior Brandon Jones on advice to inspire healthcare teams

Ever heard of a Patient Experience Warrior? Meet Brandon Jones, MSN, RN, CPXP, CEN, NEA-BC 

When not serving as System Patient Experience Manager at Carillion Clinic or hosting his podcast Real Nurses Real Talk, he’s using his unique takes to improve healthcare for patients and care teams.  

In the latest NRC Health Patient No Longer podcast, host Ryan Donohue speaks with Jones about the difference between data-driven and data-guided, the existence of healthcare heroes, and real ways to integrate compassion every day.  

“When I say data drives no one, I believe that data should be the reflection behind the work that we’re doing, not the driving force of that work,” Jones says. “Because if we’re data-driven, then what does that mean? Our mission has something to do with data and our vision. How about we be data-guided, and we allow the data to guide our decisions—so ultimately, we’re driven by our mission, vision, values, and what’s in the patient’s best interests?” 

Jones sees that data is often used to drive people—and he believes that just doesn’t work. Data is behind the work, so leaders must ensure they are correctly framing and positioning the data. He notes that healthcare systems might say, “Our goal is to be in the 90th percentile,” but that when you position the data correctly, you’re instead saying your goal is to be patient-centered.  

“Our goal is to reduce suffering,” he says. “Our goal is to have safe, high-quality care, as demonstrated by the difference between goals and targets. We are seeking to be data-guided—where the data is guiding us. One of the reasons I feel so strongly about this is that so often, when the data drives us, then the data just becomes another number. And it’s really easy to forget that every single one of those data points is a human being our team has served. We begin to dehumanize the human experience. So yes, let us be data-guided, not data-driven.” 

Jones says that the vast majority of patients who provide negative feedback are doing it because they want to see the patient experience improve—they’re not trying to burn the organization down to the ground. 

“If I go in and look at that dashboard,” he says, “and I’ve got all this data up there, and I’m thinking, Man, I did great work last week. Is it going to be reflected in the data?—did you do really great work because it’s reflected in the data? Or did you do really great work because you know that you did really great work? 

“We know that stories are powerful,” he adds. “I will frequently tell leaders that if you only have time to look at one data point, look at the qualitative data your team has served. Look at that feedback. And I guarantee you that if you take that feedback, read it, and share it, the team will be motivated in a way you’ve never seen. When you focus on providing the safest, highest quality, most compassionate care, everything else will follow.” 

Regarding the trend among C-suite leaders who believe that healthcare heroes are long gone, Jones believes it’s important to recognize that what care teams did was heroic before COVID, was heroic while we were in COVID, and will be heroic well after COVID is over. 

“When you sacrificially give of yourself to care for other human beings, that is heroic work,” he says. “But we are human beings first. We’re just like the fellow human beings we’re caring for. We are human beings first, which means that we’ve got to take care of ourselves. We’ve got to take care of each other.” 

As consumers shift in perspective on how they view the quality of local healthcare providers and organizations from before COVID and now, Jones says it’s important to note the shift in people believing that compassion is separate from high-quality care. 

“I think that the data would tell us very clearly that if there isn’t an actual crisis regarding compassion in healthcare, then there’s a perceived crisis with compassion in healthcare,” he says. “Since the days of Florence Nightingale, there’s been a shift somewhere where we viewed compassion as separate from safe, high-quality care. It used to be that they were inextricably woven into that fabric of what we do, right? It became, either, I can provide safe, high-quality care, or be compassionate. And one of the things that I always push back on our care teams about is, it is not an or—it’s an and.”  

Jones believes that when we provide safe, high-quality, compassionate, connected care to other human beings, we can fulfill our own purpose, too. 

“I’m not sure where we got off on [thinking] it’s extra work, but it is one of my missions as a warrior in this work that we are doing to bring compassion back to every interaction we have. I’m convinced that it will not only help us provide safer, higher-quality care for our patients, but I’m convinced that it will help our patients to be healthier, and our communities also to be healthier. It’ll also help our caregivers be healthier, because it does something amazing to us as human beings to be able just to give ourselves to other people.” 

He says that when it comes to the patients-first mentality in PX, words matter. 

“I fundamentally believe that I understand what people are trying to say when discussing putting patients first,” he says. “And unfortunately, just like in the patient-experience world, we talk about experience versus satisfaction. Sometimes, with some people, [those words] are used interchangeably. They’re not at all. We’re talking about the human experience.  

“I think that a patient’s first mentality, unfortunately, can help to manifest itself through, and help to contribute to, this idea of emotional exhaustion, compassion fatigue, where we’re just saying, ‘No, I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to put the patient first. I’ve got to do all this stuff.’ No, no, no. You’ve got to take care of yourself first. The patient’s at the center of the work that we do.” 

Learn what Jones’s top three walkaways are for people entering healthcare in this NRC Health Patient No Longer podcast episode.