Imagine with me: you are a mother, a wife, and a nurse—and you have cancer. You’re on your way to yet another medical appointment, which is now a significant part of your schedule. You walk into the doctor’s office and, without looking up, the receptionist greets you by simply saying, “leukemia!” At that moment, you realize you aren’t a mother in their eyes, or a wife, or a nurse. You’re not even a human. YOU ARE NOW CANCER. This happened to a friend of mine, Kate Sims, 17 years ago. Though she is now cancer free, she gets a lump in her throat when she recounts this story. It was the moment she realized that it’s possible to feel non-human.
And then there’s my buddy, Jake French. He tells a powerful story about a strange accident that left him as a quadriplegic in his early 20’s. In a brief moment, his dreams of working for the forestry department and spending long days exploring the outdoors were shattered. One of the first things he remembers after the accident was waking up in a hospital bed being told by the surgeon, “Jake, you will never walk again. You will never feel anything in your arms or hands, or be able to use them again.” Words that could possibly be true, but not the first words he needed to hear after his accident.
These are just two stories that affected me and my team at the Next Generation Patient Experience Conference in San Diego, CA. I had the honor of being one of the chairs of the conference this year and to be involved in several of the sessions. We met amazing people and heard powerful, transformative stories about the great things being done in hospital systems and medical practices around the world to improve the patient experience. One of the highlights for me, was giving the opening remarks for the conference, The Power of Yes! In Health Care (vs. The Power of No! In Healthcare).
What We Learned And What You Can Learn
- The Power of Community – As a team, we were reminded that working in this space (improving patient experience) is challenging and complicated. Though it’s a constant uphill battle, our passion was ignited for continuing to be thought leaders and disrupters. Most importantly, we were reminded that we need to humanize care more now than ever before, as evidenced in the two stories above.
- The “Hi Ya” Principle – Jake French taught us that, in health care, there are a few four-letter words that need to removed from everyone’s vocabulary: Can’t, Don’t, and Won’t. When you hear these words you need to use your loudest “Hi Ya!” and kick them out, which is happening in the picture of Jake above.
- Keep It Simple – Our group led two roundtable sessions where we asked each participant to step into the patient’s role and share the things that mattered most to them. We gathered 100+ ideas that we will organize visually into a constant reminder of the patient’s voice in the disruption process. The truly amazing thing here is that none of the ideas were complicated or difficult. As a matter of fact, the best ideas were pretty darn simple, but these ideas have been held up by an overly-complicated health care system!
What We Will Do And What You Can Do
I have heard this said many times over the past few days: “We are all still humans.” In the heat of the moment , however, when care is being provided, it’s too easy for the humanity to get lost.
Here at the Nason Group, we have put a stake in the ground to make sure that we work to keep the humanity in patient care. After all, one of our core beliefs is:
Engaging consumers’ stories and voices are mission-critical when exploring new ideas and the ONLY way to do business well.
We will not waver from this!
We will not compromise this!
We will be champions for humanizing care!
Today, we are launching a new web address (humanizingcare.health) as a reminder to us to always keep the humanity in health care.
Here is our ask of you: Take time to examine your care models, your processes, your values, and your core beliefs to make sure they are human-centered.
And then, live them out! Champion with us to make sure patient experience, member experience, and provider experience are the top priorities in your organization.