How can a hospital raise the bar on the patient experience while reenergizing employee satisfaction? That was the driving question that drove Newton-Wellesley Hospital (NWH) to start a partnership with design thinking firm IDEO.
The engagement began with visioning: How could NWH become the preferred hospital by understanding the ways patients want to engage with providers? How can employees be fully engaged as a team? And how could NWH be truly woven into the surrounding community. “We focused on how to build capabilities by unlocking new ways of working, so that innovation leads to transformation and the work continues long after our collaboration is over,” explains Kirsty Boyd, Director, Department of Tomorrow, NWH.
Those conversations led into the project’s pilot phase in the Women’s Imaging Center, where key principles – respect, gratitude, listening – were drafted to guide change, and an inside-out review process revealed key opportunities for improvement.
“It was eye-opening,” shares Janet (Jodi) Larson, MD, Chief Quality and Experience Officer, NWH. “We didn’t always align the patient experience with their expectations.” To close that gap, Women’s Imaging rearchitected the patient experience to match mammography patients’ individual wishes, creating new workflows that provided either “extras” – headphones, calming spaces, meeting the radiologist – or workstations and faster service.
These lessons became the building blocks for the next project taking place within the Outpatient Surgery Center, a more complex, multidisciplinary hospital division. Relying fully on staff from the moment they arrive, Outpatient Surgery patients’ experiences was similar to that of air travelers – so the team met with JetBlue to learn from their customer service practices. Those insights led to changes such as summaries being sent to patients before, rather than after, visits, and using text messages to identify patients who could benefit from extra individualized attention. Regular text updates and a care cart are available to patients when delays occur.
As these and other innovations are pushed to other departments, evidence of a true transformation at NWH is apparent: a new Department of Tomorrow is fostering ongoing change, and employees are sharing renewed enthusiasm for the patient-centered care mission that brought them to health care in the first place. “We now have an army of design thinking converts willing to share their transformational thinking,” says Michael R. Jaff, DO, NWH President.