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patient experience

A Yale New Haven Health System team received a best practice award for the "YNHHS Medication Assistance Program (MAP)." MAP coordinators collaborate across the system to enroll patients in manufacturer- and foundation-funded medication assistance programs as well as co-pay assistance programs. The program has secured over $3 million in co-pay assistance for patients since January 2016, which has improved the patient experience while also decreasing patient debt, hospital write-offs and free care. Back row (l-r) are: Paul Villarreal, Jacqueline Caban, Howard Cohen and Lorraine Lee. Front row (l-r): Wanda Taylor, Amanda Ceciala and Khemmaroth Srey.

As chairman of the YNHHS Patient Experience Council, Michael Bennick, MD, did more than welcome more than 1,100 employees to the annual Patient Experience Conference Oct. 13. He set the tone.

Reading a letter from Peter DeMarco to The New York Times*, Dr. Bennick related how the man's 34-year-old wife died after a devastating asthma attack. In his touching tribute, DeMarco offered glimpses into the couple's personal love story while sharing his grief, and appreciation for the staff who cared for her and helped him cope. By the time Dr. Bennick finished, there were few dry eyes in Webster Bank Arena.

"Although this story is not ours, it could easily have been written by any of our patients," Dr. Bennick said. "It is the power of this story and our privilege and opportunity to be present at incredible moments such as these that brings us all together." He reminded the audience not to underestimate the impact "just being there" has on patients and their families.

Guest speaker Marcus Engel concurred. "Simple human presence is the cornerstone of our humanity," he said, relating the impact a clinician had on him in the days following his near-death experience after being struck by a drunk driver.

"The only comfort I remember was hearing someone tell me over and over, 'I'm here, Marcus. I'm here.'"

Illustrating how current systems sometimes impede patient-centered care, keynote speaker Donald Berwick, MD, senior fellow, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, addressed the need to stop excessive measuring, abandon complex incentive programs and decrease the focus on finances. Dr. Berwick also called for a recommitment to improvement science, transparency, civility and listening.

The conference also featured panel discussions and more than 80 poster presentations on patient experience projects submitted by employees across YNHHS. Projects addressed issues in discharge and care coordination; interdisciplinary collaboration; medical practice; patient and family engagement and education; staff engagement; tools, data and processes; and unit-specific performance improvement.

patient experience

A team from YNHH's Volunteer Services and Language Services received the best practice award for the project, "Improving the Patient Experience across Cultures." Back row (l-r) are: Elizabeth Locke, Tina Jennings, Doe Haywood and Lynelle Abel. Front row (l-r): Virginia Kulig, Mohamed Hegazi, Irma Dadic and Angela Frentress.

The best practice award was presented to the Yale New Haven Hospital team project, "Improving the Patient Experience across Cultures." The project follows the footprint of the Foreign Language Visitation Program, in which volunteers provide non-English and limited-English speaking patients companionship, help orienting to the hospital environment and information about services. The team added visits to Arabic patients in 2015.

YNHH received honorable mention for "Impact of Pharmacy and Nursing Medication Council in CTICU." Patient and family counseling was initiated in April 2015 to help advance pharmacy and nursing practice and improve collaborative practice without using additional resources. Patient feedback showed significant improvement during the year.

*Editor's note: Read Peter DeMarco's letter.