5 Tips to Up the Patient Experience When You’re Down on Staff

Christmas is upon us! If you’re like us, you’re probably thinking ‘Where did the year go?’ and if you’re in a high-pressured health environment, your second most immediate thought is ‘How are we going to cope with skeleton staff this season?!’

    1. Here are some ideas on how to maintain patient experience during the silly (and scary) season:Ensuring clear communication with patients. If waiting times are going to be longer, ensure the patient is informed of this, and is updated on the wait time frequently. The ‘why’ is important – perhaps the doctor had to deliver some bad news to a family or staff are away. Be specific if the patient won’t be called in before a certain time.
    2. Make wait areas comfortable. Stock up on the magazines, provide complimentary coffee and tea, make sure the wifi is working or provide TV entertainment. This can go a long way in optimizing patient satisfaction even when the wait time is not ideal.1
    3. Ensure busy staff are not giving off ‘cues of indifference’. Here are some examples:
      • Healthcare professionals avoiding eye contact with “civilians.” Med students hurrying self-importantly down the halls, nearly running down the slow-moving patients who won’t get with the program. Patients ignored by nurses who haven’t yet clocked in and therefore don’t realize they are already (poorly) representing their institution. Doctors in the hallway loudly carrying on about the relative benefits of different vacations they’ve taken. Two radios playing at once from two administrative areas (with the waiting area for patients and their families located equidistant to both). Vending machines that are left out of service indefinitely. Vending machines that require exact change, but there’s no change machine.
    4. Empathy and communication in busy wards. Continue to bring up patient experience survey outcomes at morning staff huddles, motivate staff with small rewards and comments of appreciation to ensure they are still focused on communicating and caring for patients with empathy, even during periods when the ward is short-staffed.Get help! If patient experience measurement is just adding to ward workloads – consider using volunteers to survey patients or automate your patient experience measurement.

We’ve first hand experience with helping health settings do this so just ask us!



1.      http://blog.evisit.com/reduce- patient-wait-times

2.      https://www.forbes.com/sites/m icahsolomon/2015/01/11/8-ways- to-improve-patient-satisfactio n-and-patient-experience-and- by-the-way-improve-hcahps- scores/#6452bf4d5191


Do You Know How Staff Engagement Impacts the Patient Experience?

I delivered a Consumer Engagement Training Workshop in Perth in collaboration with the Health Consumer Council (HCC) just a few days ago. Over 40 staff representing the Ministry of Health, hospitals, healthcare providers, managers, clinicians, and consumers attended the workshop. Taking them through the 6 E framework, I showed them how they could make an impact on health services in their roles as “champions”.

What was most interesting was the number of questions about staff engagement and staff satisfaction surveys. The most important point to emphasise here is that staff engagement and patient experience are not two separate elements. One directly impacts the other and therein lies Bodenheimer’s justification for the Quadruple Aims (not Triple Aims).

Estimates for the prevalence of burnout range from 10%–70% among nurses and 30%–50% among physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants…burnout is viewed as a threat to patient safety because depersonalization is presumed to result in poorer interactions with patients. 1

I reflected on this at a recent break in Byron Bay – watch this video for further clarity around staff engagement…

In mentoring staff who are performing well, it is important to identify when they need a break. Getting a better understanding of what drives each individual team member allows you, as a leader or manager, to identify when they might burn-out.

An ANNUAL staff survey may not be sufficiently sensitive to get to the bottom of key staff issues. Organizations are starting to think about how they can move to a more real-time approach in order to respond to staff concerns more promptly.

The free text comments also help you pinpoint the root cause of staff issues. Illustrative examples:

“My manager has been very supportive but lately she has been overworked and unable to give me the time and advice I need – I wish there was someone else to speak to”

“I noticed that the communication on this ward is very poor compared to my previous one which was very friendly. The two managers would benefit from some sharing”

As a leader, it is equally important to be accountable for your own health and mental health. You might feel that you are performing well, but a quick survey of feedback from staff around you might prove otherwise.

Join other leaders who are innovating on their patient experience and are learning how to survey and impact staff engagement through the MES Platform.

Feel free to call me on 02 8091 0918 if you want to find out more about the MES staff satisfaction survey capability.



1 https://psnet.ahrq.gov/perspectives/perspective/190/burnout-among-health-professionals-and-its-effect-on-patient-safety

4 Learnings from the IHI On Culture Change

I had the pleasure of attending the Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and BMJ International’s Forum on Quality and Safety in Kuala Lumpur recently. It was a FANTASTIC two days and I learnt a great deal about the integration of patient experience and quality and safety. There was a sterling line up of speakers including Don Berwick, Helen Beavan and industry CEOs who are known change-makers in the industry.

Changing organisational culture is CORE to quality, safety and patient experience initiatives. The IHI Forum certainly drove this home – watch this video to find out more…

Learning 1: Culture change is not just about getting great data but changing the mindsets, leadership, and capturing the hearts and minds of staff and CEOs.

Learning 2: Find out about your patients and communities by listening to 7 stories that they tell. Analyzing these 7 stories can tell you a lot about the major issues in your organization.

Here’s more about the #7stories – IHI CEO, Derek Fealy

Learning 3: When it comes to the patient experience, the technical delivery of medical expertise, health analytics and medications are secondary to staff communication and their teamwork in relation to the patient’s care. Patients and their caregivers are privy to and highly value their overall interactions and care from staff.

Learning 4: Enable social action. Enable and empower staff to create communities of champions within themselves. These communities could be formal or informal and will start to create and drive change in the organisation, similar to a micro-movement.

Do use some of these ideas and let me know how you go with motivating and inspiring staff in your journey toward improved patient experience and culture change. If you have been experiencing specific challenges in engaging staff, call me for a chat on +61 2 8091 0918 or via email.

Reward and Recognise Patient Experience Champions

Western Sydney’s win of the Bob Leece Award at the recent Quality Awards, is a great way to recognise those involved in transforming the patient experience in Australia. Watch this video below about the My Experience Matters Survey and the Patient and Carer Experience Team that led the way…

These awards inspire and motivate staff to continue on in their journey of experience improvement but it is not the only way of recognising staff who are making a change in an organisation. Here are 5 simple ways to celebrate staff:

  1. Recognise them at team meetings – put their names on the agenda as a key item and hand out a simple reward. The Trinity Health System in the US managed to pin-point ‘simple’ rewards by asking staff what their favourite candy bars were in a motivational assessment survey. 1
  2. Match the reward to the achievement. For a smaller achievement, managers or the executive could send a thank-you note. For a high-performing staff, link these notes of appreciation to their annual performance appraisal, as was part of a Reward and Recognition program in the US.1
  3. Involve patients in celebrating a staff member or awarding a patient experience ‘badge’. The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust UK launched a reward scheme last year that saw patients themselves award badges to staff for standout examples of quality care.3
  4. Getting colleagues to recognise each other’s efforts. A hospital in Pennsylvania mounted a ‘Caught You Caring’ initiative to reinforce extraordinary customer service behaviours through peer recognition. They found that asking employees to recognize and document acts of extraordinary customer service had a twofold effect: increased attention to the contributions of co-workers, along with enhanced collaboration and teamwork.2
  5. An ‘I appreciate what you’re doing’ conversation as you pass a staff member in the corridor does wonder for staff esteem. 🙂





Recognising staff is very much a part of the third E (ENGAGEMENT) in our 6E framework – a holistic guide to improving patient experience in a health setting. If you want to find out more about how the 6Es can help you transform staff culture and patient experience, just call or email us.

Western Sydney Patient Experience Program wins 2 Awards!

Every year, Western Sydney LHD hosts the Quality Awards to recognise people and projects within their hospitals, wards, and units that make a difference to patient care and health outcomes. There were 79 submissions this year and ‘Patient Feedback – online, real-time, anytime’ were winners twice over at this prestigious event!

WSLHD’s My Experience Matters won their category – the Bob Leece Award and then went on to scoop one of the top awards of the night – the Chair of the Board’s Award! We are thrilled and commend their strong and determined efforts in improving patient experience LHD-wide.

Here’s how they got there:

  1.    An LHD that that identified gaps in their patient experience measurement and a solution to address it
  2.    Implemented an Australian-first real-time survey at Westmead and Auburn hospitals
  3.    Achieved more than 1300 surveys responses (from 100) and is transparent about how patients rate them!
  4.   Engaged staff from the frontline to executive through discussions and then celebrations!
  5.   Transforming patient experience daily – one banging door, one engaged team, one ward, one hospital at a time…

Some of the winning projects on the night are now being submitted to the NSW Health Innovation Awards and the NSW Premier’s Awards. Watch this space!

Congratulations to the team!

P/S: We’d also like to do a special shout-out to the maternity ward of Auburn Hospital AND the surgical high-dependency ward in Westmead who won the ‘Noise at Night’ challenge recently. Read more here

Want to improve just one aspect of your patient experience measurement or make a series of incremental improvements? Give us a call…

The 6 Types of Patients You Will Encounter (& How to Activate Them)


Clinicians are often challenged with ensuring patients adhere to health advice around their treatment, medication, nutrition, exercise, and other activities. Adherence to long-term therapies by patients with chronic illness averages at 50%1. Adherence to advice on lifestyle changes can be even lower at 20-30%2. Verbal or written instructions and follow-ups are not achieving sufficient health outcomes. Communication strategies that allow a clinician to truly engage with the patient can trigger the patient into ‘activation’ i.e. self-motivated adherence, and greater involvement in their care.

I recently attended a riveting talk, by my friend and global personalised medicine expert,
Matt Riemann, on personalised communication and patient activation. In a roomful of doctors at the University of New South Wales, Matt relayed a clear message about how the language we use to communicate with our patients resonates with them in different ways, based on who they are.

Find out more about how you can encourage better patient adherence among Sensors, Crusaders, Activators, Connectors, Guardians and Diplomats by simply TAILORING the way you engage with them. Watch this video of my interview with Matt Riemann, Personal Health Pioneer & Futurist and Founder of ph360.

We’re brimming with ideas to help you improve the patient experience through Engagement and Activation. Email us with your questions or call us at 02 8091 0918 to find out more…

1.  Adherence to long-term therapies: Evidence for Action, World Health Organisation (WHO)2013, http://www.who.int/chp/knowledge/publications/adherence_Section1.pdf
2.  Factors affecting therapeutic compliance: A review from the patient’s perspective, Jing Jin, Grant Edward Sklar, Vernon Min Sen Oh, Shu Chuen Li, Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2008 Feb; 4(1): 269–286. Published online 2008 Feb. PMCID: PMC2503662

How is Money Wasted in Health Measurement?

Everyone knows measuring healthcare performance is important, but sometimes time and money are wasted because of how measurement is being conducted, particularly if its done as a tick-box exercise without sufficient meaningful insights to drive improvement. Here are some key 2015-2016 statistics about Primary Health Networks from the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare Report on ‘Patient Experiences in Australia’.

  • At least 4 out of 5 Australians in all Primary Health Network areas rated their health positively, yet the percentage of Australians reporting a long-term health condition ranged from 43% to 63% across Primary Health Network areas.
  • Australians also reported differences in accessing healthcare services due to cost across Primary Health Network areas, with cost barriers nearly three times as high in some areas compared with others.
  • 19% of adults reported avoiding or delaying dental care due to cost.

These are useful statistics on self-reported health status, use of health services and cost barriers to accessing services. They do provide some high-level signals of where to focus, however, I can’t help but wonder:

Where is the ‘WHY’ behind these results? What are the true patient concerns, frustrations, needs and wants here?

What level of action can we implement when there is an insufficient exploration of the qualitative reasons behind these statistics? In my experience, the solutions we can put in place based on this information are very limited in its effectiveness to create meaningful change. What is needed is more granularity on these issues.

Gathering the context to statistics can be undertaken through open comments made by the research participants (provided there is an opportunity to do so in the survey!). Free-text analysis of those comments, depth interviews and small group discussions (focus groups) can also provide context.

Here’s an example:

“This last 6 months money has become a little tight as we are both attending the Dr quite regularly and with the clinic, we attend not bulk-billing we are required to pay $3.50 per visit… the extra cost per week in the last 2 or 3 months has been approximately $15-$20; this sure makes a hole in the pension…” – qualitative comment from ‘Costs of medicines and health care: a concern for Australian women across the ages’ Report, Nov 2013

Comments like this give us specifics of the cost barrier from a monetary perspective, will aid decision-making, strategy or policy development.

Getting to the heart of health issues in this way enables organisations to transform strategies on meeting healthcare’s Quadruple Aims and maximising their ROI on improving the patient experience and Consumer Engagement. These are vital components of the National Safety and Quality Healthcare Standards: Standard 2: Partnering with Consumers.

If you need some affordable help on how to incorporate the ‘WHYs’ into your measurement, reply to this e-mail OR click here if you’re curious about how to make a bigger social impact with the consumer feedback that you already capture.

We’d love to help you care better for patients, carers, and our communities AND reduce the amount of wasted investment in outdated methods of healthcare measurement.


Patient Experience Training Goes International!

I recently had some exciting days in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – delivering a highly interactive 2-day workshop to patient experience leaders representing a range of roles and organizations. We had hospital executives, senior management, doctors, nurses, finance managers and board members, marketing and customer service staff from key private hospitals across the Malayan Peninsula and as far as Sabah and Sarawak.

We showed participants how to use Energesse’s 6E Framework – to measure, improve and evolve patient experience in hospitals and healthcare providers.

Of particular interest to participants was how to engage clinicians and non-clinicians in improving the experience of the patients they interact with on a daily basis. They valued the opportunity to learn about key communication tools, the Ikigai (a Japanese concept around the ‘reason for being’) and the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?).

6E Framework: Leading Training Program for Improving the Patient Experience, Customer Service and Financial Outcomes in Healthcare

We have continued to engage and support our training participants in helping them change behaviours at the front line, with significant impact within days of attending! Here’s some of the feedback we’ve already received:

‘I managed to listen better to a patient’s voice and assisted in concluding a long hanging case amicably by making two parties happy……I am energetic, motivated and a caring a new self following the workshop….an extraordinary workshop revealing the importance of 6Es.’
-Diane R., Parkway Pantai Private Hospital

‘I’ve learnt a lot in your training and now I can feel the difference when I started implementing the new knowledge. Had difficulties when the system went down for 1.5 hours. (Received) negative feedback on FB… within 2 minutes; live!. However, we managed to control the situation as per your guidelines!’
-M.Fauzi, Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital

If you want to find out more about our 2 day, 1-day or half-day 6E Patient Experience Workshop, I’d be happy to send you more info on what we delivered.

Simply call 02 8091 0918 or email me

The Return on Investment on Empathy in Measuring Patient Experience

Empathy in healthcare is both a traditional concept as it is a new-age buzzword. That’s because it has never lost its importance as a legitimate element of a patient’s healing process.

Simply defined, empathy is the capacity to walk in the shoes of another. Essentially, the ability to understand, appreciate and relate to someone else’s emotions. There is more chatter in the industry now about defining, teaching, learning and measuring empathy in healthcare than there has ever been.

Making emotions a visible part of your (formal or informal) measurement validates the feelings of patients which in turn, promotes patient satisfaction, enhances the quality and quantity of clinical data, improves adherence and generates a more therapeutic patient-physician relationship.

Ultimately, it all links back to the Net Promoter Score (NPS) or the Friends and Family Test (FFT). A key HCAHPS question, the NPS or FFT asks the patient point-blank if they would recommend the hospital to family and friends.

There’s your ROI.


Human emotions are core to every patient experience. At every stage of the patient journey, there is a feeling, sentiment or attitude that will, collectively, define the experience for the patient at the end of their engagement with a healthcare setting.

Hospitals are often obsessed with benchmarking against other hospitals in term of their respective performance indicators, however there is a need to first benchmark against the EXPECTATIONS of your own patient population:

  • If the experience < expectations, then you have a satisfaction deficit which leads to frustration and anger
  • If the experience > expectations, then you have a satisfaction profit which leads to delight and excitement

Frustration and anger are detractors to the patient experience. If these emotions are experienced, then you can be sure that the patient is on their way to relay their negative experiences to others or not return, or both! Feelings of delight and excitement on the other hand naturally motivate patients to ‘promote’ your healthcare setting to others.


Measuring emotions is key part of our 6E Framework, a step-by-step guide to producing a true holistic picture of patient experience. Its measurement impacts the full spectrum of this framework:

Understanding the real patient EXPERIENCE through EMOTIONAL data ENERGISES staff in their purpose and EXECUTION of solutions. Successes are repeated to produce EXCELLENCE in delivery and organizational capability in patient experience EVOLVES.

How do you draw these emotions out of a patient so you can understand, measure and respond appropriately? Some state it boldly, some hide their emotions through seemingly rational questions or casually drop a comment about their emotions, to test the waters on how it would be received in the healthcare setting. Pick up on these clues, don’t ignore it or change the topic.

For the uncertain and non-forthcoming patient, surveys are a great way to get emotional data. One would imagine that a survey asking about their emotions would not only surprise them but send a clear message that there is a space in that setting to talk about emotions, that a culture exists that encourages and supports emotions.


When the clinician and non-clinician are able to recognize the emotions around a patient, it allows them to be more authentic and honest in the support given to the person (not patient).

Clinicians are able to view the person’s emotions within a more accurate context and address it in specific ways:

  • Learning: Where the patient is fearful because of a lack of information, there is an opportunity for staff to help educate the patient to reduce his fear
  • Empowerment: Where the patient feels helpless in the face of his health, there is an opportunity for staff to develop the patient’s sense of power over the situation through education, tools and technology
  • Self-discipline: Where the patient is frustrated over their personal management of their health, there is an opportunity for staff to help the patient develop discipline through motivation, tools and technology
  • Feelings of control: Where the patient is overwhelmed with the amount of information around their diagnosis, there is an opportunity for staff to ensure that the communication of information is at a pace and volume that the patient is comfortable with and to involve the patient’s family members or friends in managing overwhelm.

When an organization can undertake the above in a systematic way, an ‘energy’ or a vibe starts to infiltrate through the ranks. Clinicians and non-clinicians start to discover or re-discover the meaning in their roles and the organization becomes more congruent with its purpose.

What’s the vibe like where you are?



1. Identified/adapted/Inspired from information from a) Chapter Abstract from Patient Emotions and Patient Education Technology: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128017371000020  and b) Empathy and Emotional Intelligence: What is it Really About?’, International Journal of Caring Sciences, Volume 1 Issue 3, Alexander Technological Education Institute of Thessaloniki, Greece: http://internationaljournalofcaringsciences.org/docs/Vol1_Issue3_03_Ioannidou.pdf
2. “Let me see if I have this right…”: Words That Help Build Empathy, Coulehan JL, Platt FW, Egener B, Frankel R, Lin CT, Lown B, et al. (2001).


The 3 Key Steps to Cultural Transformation – You’ll want to know this!

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Denver, USA, attending the Beryl Institute Patient Experience Conference 2017. I had the opportunity to interview Dr Jeremy Blanchard, who is the Chief Medical Officer at the Language of Caring on the pre-aspects to cultural change and creating mastery in patient experience. Watch the video below to find out more!


Contact me for tips on how to engage your physicians in improving patient experience!

If you’re ready, call me directly. If you’re not, you can help advance the patient experience movement (and your own knowledge) by clicking on our survey!