Jan 24 2011

Building the Ideal Patient Care Experience

Wouldn’t it be great if every time you go to the doctor’s office or hospital, everything goes right? Appointments are scheduled flawlessly, you aren’t kept waiting, you get the information you need to make decisions about your care, and your choices and preferences are respected. The University of Michigan Health System is reinventing itself to deliver this ideal — what we call the Ideal Patient Care Experience (IPCE) — to all of our patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“This is the only place I want to receive my care”

In 2004, a UMHS leadership team asked itself what would have to happen for patients to say, “This is the only place I want to receive my care.” The result of their deep dive into this question is a compelling vision in which every patient encounter – from scheduling an appointment to receiving in-home care after surgery – will be the very best it can be.

The team worked from the national Institute of Medicine’s six aims for improvement, which state that care should be:

  • Safe
  • Effective
  • Patient-centered
  • Timely
  • Efficient
  • Equitable (fair and equal for all)

What is the Ideal Patient Care Experience?

“It’s the kind of care our patients would like to have, our families would like to have, and that I’d like to get myself,” says John E. Billi, M.D. Dr. Billi is associate dean for Clinical Affairs of the University of Michigan Medical School, and associate vice president for Medical Affairs of the University of Michigan Health System. “We’ve done a huge amount of work.”

Today, UMHS is working on delivering ideal patient care experiences by:

  • creating a “medical home” for each patient that can coordinate the patient’s care,
  • providing patient-centered and family-centered care,
  • promoting the highest-quality clinical care and standardization,
  • making safety a property of the entire clinical care system,
  • creating an environment of superb service excellence,
  • coordinating care around a patient’s health care needs, and
  • providing facilities and amenities that promote well-being and healing.

“We’re acknowledging errors, learning from our successes and mistakes, and replicating what we’re doing well,” says Tony Denton, M.H.A., J.D., executive director of University Hospitals and chief operating officer of the U-M Hospitals & Health Centers. “We also listening and learning from our patients and families, and involving them in designing and evaluating all aspects of how care is delivered.”

How employees contribute

Leadership believes that the “lean thinking” problem-solving approach will help.

“Lean thinking empowers every worker to find, fix and solve problems with the cooperation of their coworkers and supervisors,” says Dr. Billi, who offers a quick summary of lean thinking as it is applied here:

  • Do our work every day in a standard way that we created – not just the way the work evolved.
  • Be alert to things going wrong.
  • Fix the problem now for this patient or coworker.
  • Find and fix the root causes of the problem so it never happens again.

Marcy Waldinger, M.H.S.A., says, “As the Ideal Patient Care Experience becomes a reality, every employee will contribute. Every manager will be able to walk around and see how we’re doing. And every patient and family will receive the very best care every time.” Ms. Waldinger is chief administrative officer of the Comprehensive Cancer Center and a member of the team that developed the IPCE principles.

Part of our strategic plan

The Ideal Patient Care Experience is a key part of the UMHS Strategic Plan. It’s important to the Health System’s success, resulting in further patient satisfaction and recognition as a health care provider of choice. A new IPCE team, led by Mr. Denton, is defining ways to advance each part of the model.

“In the best health care system in the world, there are bound to be mistakes,” says Dr. Billi. “We experience 1.8 million patient visits a year. Our goal is that every patient we touch has the Ideal Patient Care Experience.”

We’re already recognized among the best and safest

UMHS Chief Medical Officer Darrell “Skip” Campbell Jr., M.D., says, “We’re recognized as being among the best and safest hospitals and health systems by many organizations such as Hospital Compare, My Care Compare, U.S. News & World Report and the Leapfrog group. But the Ideal Patient Care Experience is a great, very positive, very personal way for each of us to stay focused on quality and safety every day.”

2 Responses to “Building the Ideal Patient Care Experience”

  1. Anna Gaeta says:

    Thank you for the information. I would like to learn more about how you apply the lean process to the work environment. Anna Gaeta RN, BSN, MS Asst Director Clinical Excellence and Quality, North Shore Health System

    • Beth Johnson, editor and senior writer, PRMC says:

      Hi Anna,

      Our contact for lean stories in Inside View is Jeanne Kin. I recommend speaking to her, as I’m sure she’ll be familiar with the process of starting a lean project.

      Her email address is jkin@med.umich.edu

      Beth Johnson, editor

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