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Improving Patient Safety, From Rounding with Patient Advisors: Podcast

HealthStream podcast

HealthStream’s Second Opinions Podcast series features industry experts and leaders and their take on issues impacting healthcare today and tomorrow.

Our current installment is an interview with Joan Wynn, Ph.D., RN, the Chief Quality Officer and President of Vidant Home Health and Hospice, who was recently named one of the top 50 experts in the country in the field of patient safety. Under her leadership, Vidant has successfully implemented many strategies that address patient safety and quality.

Below is an edited excerpt from the recording with HealthStream’s Brad Weeks, our host:

Brad:

Let's discuss the impact of those [patient] advisers on the organization as a whole. I'm curious about how that has impacted some of your frontline staff and caregivers as well. I would think that learning about those stories would really have an impact on them as you said these are neighbors, these are friends and family members that they're serving and so can tell us a little bit about how this concept of patient family advisers has impacted Vidant—again organizationally, but also more individually with your frontline staff as well?

Joan Wynn:

We do have a practice of sharing a story at the beginning of all of our meetings, and the stories are about real patients who have had experiences of care in our hospitals. Sharing those stories in staff meetings, medical staff meetings, and quality meetings is another way to bring the patient into the room, to bring the patient experience right to our frontline staff. Another thing that we have done is to implement safety rounds, where we have our patient advisers make safety rounds in the hospitals with our hospital presidents or the quality directors. So, they're actually engaging in conversations with thefront-line staff in that way and talking about things from the patient perspective. I can think of one example where a hospital president was rounding with a patient adviser— they were going into various different patients’ rooms and talking to the staff, patients, and families. The patient adviser noticed that the nightlight in the room that we [normally] have on, was not on. When she tried to turn it on it didn't work. When they stepped out of the room she mentioned to the hospital president: “I noticed the nightlight wasn't working, what's up with that?”

Obviously the nightlight is important; it helps to prevent falls. It stays on all the time and lights up the room, in not a bright way, but in a way that allows people to be more safe as they are ambulating around the room. It was something that the hospital president missed—you just become numb to things sometimes after being in an environment for so long. But that was critical to this patient adviser, because they know how important it is in the safety element and with family members. That was something that this individual picked up on right away and was able to call to the attention of the hospital president. And of course we got that addressed and taken care of. 

I guess it just-it brings to the forefront how patients and families are looking at things from a different perspective; [they] see and notice things that maybe we don't.

To hear more from Dr. Wynn click here to access the full interview.