A helping hand: OPE gives faculty, staff the tools to succeed

June 22, 2017  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

Lemar Thomas joined Michigan Medicine in 2010. He now works for the Office of Patient Experience.

Employees in the Office of Patient Experience (OPE) have one clear goal that they strive for each day: To help faculty and staff provide the ideal experience for patients and families the first time, every time.

“There is plenty of evidence that an excellent health care experience has a powerful impact on patient outcomes,” said Lemar Thomas, a performance consultant with OPE.

Thomas and his team collaborate with employees across the organization every day to give them the tools they need to improve how patients and families are treated during their visits to Michigan Medicine.

“When we put our faculty and staff in a better position to succeed, we put our patients in a better position to succeed,” Thomas said.

To achieve that, OPE collaborates with clinical and service departments across Michigan Medicine to provide training sessions, leadership coaching, consultation services and program planning for all areas of the organization.

For example, Thomas and his team recently worked with a call center because employees were struggling with having difficult conversations with patients and family members.

“We observed a number of conversations and worked with department leaders to develop scripts and language that would help foster a feeling of mutual respect between the employees and patients,” Thomas said. “If there are gaps that your department has identified in how patients are treated, we can help to address them in a fully collaborative process.”

Staff members then committed themselves to learning that language — and, as a result, the department began seeing higher patient satisfaction scores.

“Our work was beneficial, but it wouldn’t be nearly as effective if our faculty and staff were unwilling to take the tips and resources and execute them,” Thomas said.

For Thomas, who grew up in Ann Arbor regularly volunteering with a number of community organizations, giving back has always been a priority.

After an early career in hospitality, he joined Michigan Medicine in 2010 as a member of the Service Excellence department, a team that is now part of OPE. The role allows him to meld what has always been a personal passion — helping others in need — with his professional career aspirations.

“When I stop and think about the work me and my teammates do, we are truly impacting people’s lives. That’s a remarkable feeling,” he said. “People want help, whether it’s the staff member down the hall or the patient who needs compassion and care. The work I do — and our entire team does — is designed to help both of them.”