Magazine article Talent Development

Patients First

Magazine article Talent Development

Patients First

Article excerpt

As one of the largest multispecialty group practices in the United States-with 42,000 employees, 3,000 physicians and scientists, and 5 million patient visits per year, along with multiple regional hospitals-Qeveland Clinic embarked on a journey in 2007 to create a culture referred to now as the Cleveland Clinic Experience. This cultural change was dramatic, sustainable, and its results quite remarkable considering that a majority of traditional change efforts do not succeed.

The framework of the cultural change was driven by the president and CEO of Cleveland Clinic, Delos T. Cosgrove, whose ultimate vision was to have an overall culture where the Cleveland Clinic Experience achieves excellent patient satisfaction and provides highly engaged caregivers to our patients with high-quality, cost-effective, and safe patient care. This sustainable cultural shift was a daunting task that would affect thousands of providers and caregivers, and millions of patients.

The need for change

Cleveland Clinic was established more than 90 years ago with a long-standing history and strong culture of clinical excellence, created by a traditional physician-centric culture. And with this reputation and strong culture comes a resistance to change. Change is possible for the right reasons, one of which is creating a new leadership model that supports an outstanding patient and employee experience.

The timing for the change initiative was based on two outcomes. First, the under-whelming results in the first Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Patient Satisfaction Survey in 2008.

In that survey, Cleveland Clinic scored average or below average on all of the patient satisfaction metrics. As a national, standardized, government-mandated, publicly reported survey, these results did not reflect the organization's vision, mission, and values of an excellent patient experience.

Second, findings on employee engagement prompted the need for change. The first enterprise engagement survey came back with highly engaged physicians at the 85th percentile, and engaged employees benchmarked at the 38th percentile compared with other employees throughout the United States. Although the employees were satisfied and appreciative of their jobs, especially during times of economic recovery, they did not feel engaged in their work.

Given this sobering reality, leadership realized that if Cleveland Clinic was to continue to be a world-class organization, the culture would need to change to accomplish its vision. Improving the patient experience and employee engagement required a commitment to deep-seated change that would transform Cleveland Clinic's culture and its leadership model.

A new perspective

The framework of required changes would not be delegated to a task or project; instead, it involved a fundamental shift in thinking, a new approach to problem solving, and learning how to communicate with patients and one another more effectively.

One way to guide staff toward this new perspective was the creation of a visual map on the Cleveland Clinic Experience, which showed the experience from multiple perspectives, the values to deliver, and the "patients first" philosophy. The map created extensive dialogue on how each person contributed to the patient experience and the importance of all staff working together to deliver on our promise of world-class care for everyone.

The new thinking would require everyone to learn together in a new, nontraditional way. That learning was imparted during Cleveland Clinic Experience workshops where 40,000 caregivers were brought together over several months. Having physicians, nurses, environmental service workers, billers, and all other staff sitting at the same table to share and listen to one another about a common vision to develop a superior patient experience was a major step in creating a new culture of hope, optimism, confidence, and resilience. …

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