2016 Recap

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The seventh annual Patient Experience: Empathy + Innovation Summit, May 15 -18, had nearly 2,000 registered attendees from 45 states and 37 countries.

We appreciated this opportunity to learn as we shared ideas and best practices among our participants. Together, we can improve not just the patient and caregiver experience, but the human experience.

This year’s summit was presented in partnership with the following organizations, to ensure that attendees are exposed to the latest information from industry experts and leaders of the global patient experience movement:

  •   Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)
  •   American Medical Group Association (AMGA)
  •   American Hospital Association (AHA)
  •   Association for Patient Experience (AfPE)
  •   National Center for Healthcare Leadership (NCHL)
  •   The Arnold P. Gold Foundation
  •   The Joint Commission
  •   Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM)

View 2016 Agenda   View 2016 Speakers


Key Takeaways

Sunday, May 15

Two Pre-Summit Track Sessions were held on Sunday.

Marketing and Communication Track

Digital Leadership in Healthcare
Experts from across the Cleveland Clinic Marketing and Communications Division addressed the latest trends in digital and provided tactical tips for success in today's modern marketing environment.

Paul Matsen: "The marketing landscape is rapidly changing. Communications must be digital, mobile and measurable."

Brian Gresh: "Connecting with patients where they are and knowing how they want to view content is key. Being visible in search and focusing on a mobile first experience are the two biggest priorities."

Sue Omori: "Using content 'situationally' we can help consumers make healthcare decisions, help patients while they are getting treatment and even keep them informed after they've been discharged."

Eileen Sheil: "Now more than ever, we need to make important medical content easily accessible to reporters to share with the public. Technology has evolved to allow us to provide comprehensive information in a multi-media format, which allows for much more engaging story-telling."

Mary Beth Pate: "With so many consumers on their mobile devices, we have shifted much of our advertising onto mobile as well. Consumers are on their devices looking for healthcare information and we see that in the success of our mobile ads, which connect them back to treatment specific content."

Authentic Storytelling
Christoph Trappe, who wrote the book on authentic storytelling, shared his tips on how you empower frontline staff, marketing staff and patients to share your and their stories in the most meaningful way.

"Stories happen every day in the healthcare setting. Go story shopping and encourage caregivers to share stories. They help colleagues recognize or solve a problem. They can motivate patients to choose your hospital for care. I have an acquaintance who decided to have heart surgery at Cleveland Clinic because: "they tell better stories online."

Empathy for the Mobile Patient: Solving Healthcare's Location Data Crisis
Jeff Rohrs: "Patients are using their mobile devices to search for medical information, facility addresses, and doctor phone numbers. Recent research indicates that more than 70 percent of healthcare facility and physician listings have erroneous information online while over 30 percent lack any online listings at all. Healthcare organizations have an opportunity to make these listings a marketing asset."

Your Role in Leading and Communicating Change
Michelle Mahony: "Explore a new way to think about change in a 'Liquid' way in the context of the evolving healthcare environment. Identify the attributes that help people flourish in a change-heavy environment. Assess your biggest challenges to addressing change, and be proactive in determining how you can address them."

How and Why to Create an Integrated Patient Experience Online and Offline
Sandra Fancher: "Patients interact with you in multiple ways and numerous times throughout their journey. They often cross back and forth between internal and external channels making consistent communication a challenge. Developing an integrated online and offline strategy can be done with limited capital and using your current technology to create a positive patient experience."

Nursing Tracks

Dr. Kelly Hancock: "As nurses, we spend the most time with patients - and with that comes the responsibility and honor of taking the lead in patient experience."

Marc Jaffe: "Sometimes I have to stop being a care partner and become a 'don't care' partner."

Dr. Karen Jaffe: "I figured I wasn't put on this planet just to have Parkinson's Disease. I must be here to do something about it."

Dr. Sherry Gevedon: "You as healthcare professionals are sitting on one of the largest repositories of innovation on earth...the patient."

Christina Dempsey: "Caregivers are not immune to suffering. Just as the overarching goal for patient experience should be the reduction of suffering, our goal should also be to improve caregiver resilience and connection to both purpose and the organization."

Selinza Mitchell: "If you knew that you could make a difference, what difference would it make?"

Dr. Jean Watson: "A unitary caring science model requires nurses and all practitioners to cultivate loving kindness, compassion and equanimity for self - before practicing caring and compassion with another."

Rachel Biblow: "We all love championship teams - most get there through deliberate focus and continued practice - even the superstars."

Monday, May 16

Opening Remarks
Adrienne Boissy, MD, MA: "Patient experience is going to need to assert itself with safety and quality. It is what will distinguish our care."
"How are you fostering relationships in your work? How are you building community?"

Walk a Mile in My Shoes
Sarah Cawley, MPAS, PA-C: "The meaning lies in the suffering. Suffering is powerful but it can be leveraged for good. Sit with it. This is where you find tangible empathy."
"Honor the value of every life you encounter."

The Dying
BJ Miller, MD: "The system itself can become a source of suffering [for patients]."
"Dying people are still living."
"Watch yourself when you separate yourself from your patients in any way."

Capability, Comfort and Calm: Designing Health Care Services for Excellence and Empathy
Elizabeth Teisberg, PhD: "Do we know the unspoken needs of the people we serve? Not knowing hurts patients and caregivers."
"The fundamental question that brings together excellence and empathy is 'How are you?"

Reverse Perspective: What if hotels treated guests like hosts?
Mark Hoplamazian: "You simply cannot script an authentic experience and authenticity beats out perfection every time."
"Make it an emotional engagement. Not a transactional engagement."

If We Can't Cure the Patient, Can the Community?
Mark Hyman, MD: "Chronic disease is a social disease."
"Illness starts with 'I,' wellness starts with 'we.'"
"The health care walls have to break down and we need to think of health care without walls."

What you thought you knew but patients know better: Reimaging the Patient Experience
Sally Okun, RN, MMHS: "No one voluntarily chooses to experience this [patient] journey."
"To learn, listen well to impressions voiced by patients first. There's a ripple effect when you begin to learn from listening."

What Would You Do, If You Knew You Could Not Fail?
Regina Holliday: "The new world of data and access is changing everything."
"When you bring everyone to the table, the ideas you come up with are amazing."


Reaction Panel
Sarah Cawley, MPAS, PA-C: "Unless we share our stories, nothing changes."
Christine Traul, MD: "Let's be present. Let's be there and engage with [patients]."

Tuesday, May 17

Who Cares
Ronald Wyatt, MD, MHA: "What is care? Care is coordinated, activating and personalized. At the foundation, care is dignity, compassion and respect. If you care, you must:

•    Ask what matters to me
•    Ask how to serve me best
•    Talk to me
•    Listen to me
•    Say thank you to me
•    Apologize to me
•    Do not hurt me"


Meeting the Patient Where They Are
Patti Substelny, MLIR, Patient: "I have a disease, but I am not sick. Very soon after our marriage, my husband and I asked my doctor what we should be thinking about having children. My physician said we better give up that ghost. He not only didn't meet me where I was; he failed me. He was trying to treat a diagnosis - not his patient."

The Patient Experience: Past, Present and Future
Moderator Adrienne Boissy, MD, MA, discussed with Toby Cosgrove, MD, Chief Executive Officer and President, Cleveland Clinic, about where the field of patient experience has come from and where it's going.
Dr. Cosgrove: "Patient experience is a journey and we have talked about the quality of healthcare as three things: Clinical experience, physician experience and emotional experience. Frankly, I think the part that we have the biggest opportunity to improve is the emotional experience. Patients who come into the hospital may be terrified. They desire to have as much of that anxiety dealt with as possible and they need to be treated as human beings. All of us understand how we would like to be treated... We need to address the burnout and the stress of our caregivers to continue to journey."

Transform Patient Care with Technology & Gratitude Innovation
Andrew Horn: "Want to be 25 percent happier? When you wake up in the morning and go to bed at night, acknowledge three things you are thankful for and three things you are looking forward to."

Cultural Engagement to Transform the Experience
James Merlino, MD: "Everyone goes into healthcare for the right reason, for the higher purpose. But we tend to forget about this. In the hamster wheel of everyday activities, we forget why we're here. When you think about the pressure of our workforce, record levels of stress, crazy levels of burnout - it's hard to think about this and do what we do, which is to take care of our fellow human beings and do it in a way that is compassionate."

"It only takes 56 seconds or less to learn something about someone and make a connection. Surely we have 56 sections to spare. It's what I want when I see a physician."
Will the Health Professions Survive? Only if We Connect Better with Patients
Three leading empathy advocates discussed how technological innovation and the drive for efficiency have led to a concerning global deficit in empathy and compassion in medicine today.

Moderator: Helen Riess, MD: "Patients are more informed. The knowledge gap has shrunken dramatically because they can look up anything online and become partners in their healthcare. Technology is both a blessing and a curse. It's leading to burnout and attrition at rates we have never seen before. The relationship between patients and caregivers can be fragile, unformed."

Brian Hodges, MD, PhD, FRCPC: "Some have asked if there will be health professionals in the future. All healthcare can be diagnosed with three clusters: knowledge based, skills based and relationship based. If we don't hold on to the third, we may not be needed at all."

Richard Levin, MD: "The American Diabetes Association has indicated the cost of treating diabetes is 245 billion dollars in the U.S. and is expected to increase by 128 percent within next 10-15 years... One of the most available solutions is empathy and compassion. Healthcare outcomes can be improved by relating to a patient in this most important way.

End of Life - Compassionate Conversations and Care
Daniel Diaz: "Media and others may assume when you apply for this end of life medication, you give up. When you have cancer, you fight. The medication simply provides them piece of mind. By having that medication, the fear of losing control vanishes. Brittany held the trump card the tumor could not defeat. To a terminally ill individual, death is not failure. Suffering would have been failing."

"One voice can make a difference; Brittany's voice truly did."

Professional Consequences of Physicians' Personal Well-being
Tait Shanafelt, MD: "If I told you we had a system issue that limited access to care, threated quality to care, eroded patient satisfaction and was impacting at least half of the physicians and nurses and therefore affecting at least half of the patients, you would quickly initiate the SWAT team... That's precisely what we have. And yet we have not responded the way we would respond to other system-level factors affecting care."

Wednesday, May 18

A Bad Death is a Con
Alexandra Drane shared that while 70 percent of people want to die at home, only 30 percent actually do. Plan for the end of life ahead of time so that others know your wishes.

"When you don't have a lot of life left, the quality of life really matters. Doing the end of your life better is a gift to you and to everyone else."

Are You Really Connecting with your Patients AND their Caregivers?
Patient Patty Substeiny, MLIR, asked satisfied and unsatisfied patients to share their stories of what works -- and what doesn't. Even when caregivers disagree, teamwork and collaboration are keys to success.

"Use the whole care network, including the patient and his or her family. Don't let egos get in the way of doing what is best."

Joy in a Seemingly Joyless Space - Resiliency Efforts in a Complaint Department
Stephanie Bayer and Andrea Cupples create micro-moments of joy in the Ombudsman Office, where dealing with complaints every day can be challenging to caregivers.

"Communicating wins, and making sure to create space and time for humor, reduces the risk of burnout and improves retention."

Moving the Needle: 2016 Signs that Technology is Transforming Care
Michael Roizen, MD, led a panel discussion on six words participants wanted to address with technology: connection, recognition, relief, transparency, empowerment and efficiency.

"We love solutions that are looking for problems. It's time to design systems with caregivers' and patients' needs in mind."
"Technology should be the wind at our backs, not the wind in our faces. Putting information and tools in the hands of patients will increase confidence and reduce anxiety."

CNO Panel: Creating a Healing Environment for Caregiver and Patient Experience
Kelly Hancock, DNP, RN, led a panel of expert chief nursing officers who took on the question of "Will the health profession survive?"

"The work is very intense - mentally and physically exhausting. We have to protect caregiver resiliency."
"Every interaction with front-line staff has to be meaningful."

"Creating a healthy work environment is about asking our caregivers 'what can we do for you?'"

The Fire Within
Keynote speaker Allison Massari, who endured excruciating pain and agony after surviving a car accident and ensuing fire, offered a riveting talk on the impact of human kindness.

"Sometimes all it takes is one person to change a life. Genuine caring makes horrible experiences so much more tolerable."
"Happiness can be self-generating. It comes from within"

"Compassion heals the places that medicine can't touch."

Empathy Amplifiers Spotlight

Patient care is more than just healing — it’s building a connection that encompasses mind, body and soul. If you could stand in someone else’s shoes . . . hear what they hear. See what they see. Feel what they feel. Would you treat them differently?

Empathy is the ability to imagine oneself in another’s place and to communicate that understanding back to. The Empathy Amplified Award is an annual award created to recognize those that embody empathy and relationship centered care beyond what is expected in their role. By delivering care with our hearts and minds, the empathy we convey to our patients, families, and to each other, creates a culture that embraces the human experience…the very core of healthcare.

We are happyPatient care is more than just healing — it’s building a connection that encompasses mind, body and soul. If you could stand in someone else’s shoes . . . hear what they hear. See what they see. Feel what they feel. Would you treat them differently?

Empathy is the ability to imagine oneself in another’s place and to communicate that understanding back to. The Empathy Amplified Award is an annual award created to recognize those that embody empathy and relationship centered care beyond what is expected in their role. By delivering care with our hearts and minds, the empathy we convey to our patients, families, and to each other, creates a culture that embraces the human experience…the very core of healthcare.

The 2016 winners were announced on Wednesday, May 18:


Empathy Amplified Individual Winner
Cheryl Dodd, RN
Home Care Coordinator for the Spinal Cord Injury/Disorder (SCI/D) patient population
New Mexico VA Health Care System

Empathy Amplified Team Winner
Hospice Interdisciplinary Team
VA Medical Center - Manchester


Feedback about the 2016 Summit

"A conference like this reminds me why I do what I do and patient/family needs aren't only what has been placed in orders by physicians, it's so much more."


"It was an outstanding reminder to me that the patients are our employer and that we are guests in their lives."


"This summit changed my life as a Patient Experience Officer. It opened my thinking to many possibilities and ideas on how I can help to grow our PE department."


"Overall an extraordinary and inspiring experience. Diverse content and presenter styles. Thank you all."


"Thank you. For sharing. For inviting us to walk with you. For the transparency. For the inspiration. For the confirmation."

Hope to See You Next Year

Save the date for next year's Summit, May 22-24, 2017.

Extremely well organized for optimization of time and value

—2016 Summit Attendee

Thank you for a great experience; this was my first time attending and I'll definitely be coming every year

—2016 Summit Attendee

This conference has inspired me to bring back this passion for patient experience to my facility to create a comforting trustworthy environment for the patient – thank you so much!

—2016 Summit Attendee

This has been an amazing learning opportunity; I have been inspired a number of times by the courage, passion and incredible work of your speakers

—2016 Summit Attendee

It gives me hope that I am on the right path, my program can make in-roads, and healthcare can be about healing

—2016 Summit Attendee

A room full of people like me – feels like a dream!

—2016 Summit Attendee

The interactive breakout session on Engagement Strategies was the most informative action-oriented session I attended

—2016 Summit Attendee

The summit felt “cool” and meaningful at the same time.

—2016 Summit Attendee

Would love to bring all Administrative Team members of our hospital including medical/clinic/emergency room. We can all learn from this summit.

—2016 Summit Attendee