Enhancing the patient experience: Q&A with Keith Gran

April 24, 2018  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,

All week, Michigan Medicine is celebrating the faculty, staff, patients and families who impact the patient experience. Among those are the staff members in the Office of Patient Experience (OPE), led by Chief Patient Experience Officer Keith Gran.

Headlines recently sat down with Gran to discuss the importance of enhancing the patient experience at Michigan Medicine — both now and in the future — and the role his team plays in that effort.

Here’s what he had to say!

Q: On a broad level, what exactly is the “patient experience?”

KG: Patient experience encompasses the range of interactions that patients have across the health care industry — from the care provided through their health plans to interactions with individual doctors, nurses and staff in hospitals, clinics and emergency rooms.

From the time a patient selects a provider to their first appointment, possible inpatient stays and beyond, we want to ensure that patients and families are always treated with respect and empathy at Michigan Medicine. And while we may not be able to satisfy their every wish, their input and feedback is essential to reaching this goal and should always be sought and considered at all levels of the organization.

Q: Why is there so much focus on improving the experience at Michigan Medicine?

KG: Patients have many options when it comes to health care. Therefore, when they choose to come to Michigan Medicine, we want their experience to be embraced by everyone in the organization. Not only is it the right thing to do, but we’ve learned that when the organization is patient- and family-centered, patients receive the safest and highest quality of care.

Our aim at OPE is to provide the infrastructure to employ broad patient and family engagement to ensure that we are evolving all of our operations to improve the care experience. That includes decisions regarding the design of a physical space or addressing a patient’s comfort level when having blood drawn. Their experience impacts not just their impression of the health system and caregivers, but can truly affect their health outcomes.

Q: What can individual employees do to improve the patient experience? 

Every person at Michigan Medicine, regardless of their position, makes an impact on the patient experience. Keep a few simple ideas in mind: Treat others as you want to be treated, avoid making assumptions and ask questions when you are not sure how to help. Take the time to listen to patients’ concerns and questions — and connect them to resources when they need them.

Q: As the Office of Patient Experience enters its second year, what energizes you?

KG: In the past year, we have partnered with departments across the organization to make lasting changes. We now have more than 1,000 patient and family advisors who participate on committees, surveys, and councils to amplify the patient voice. Patient family advisory councils and peer mentor programs provide direct input to support patients, caregivers and organizational leaders.

On a more specific level, the HOPE Ambassador program utilizes volunteers to help patients and families find their way to any area they need. The overall feedback received from lost and anxiety-filled patients and families is a sense of relief that the organization has someone help find the way.

We have also partnered with patients and families to compile the first guidebook for inpatients in the adult hospital, and revised the Mott Family Guidebook.

Finally, improving patient access is a major priority for Michigan Medicine. OPE is working on a coordinated approach with departments and ambulatory care that will ensure patients get the right appointment at the right time.

These are just a few of the initiatives underway to improve the patient experience. To learn more about OPE’s efforts, I encourage anyone to visit our website.

Q: What do you forecast for the health care industry in general, and patient experience specifically, in the next five years?

KG: Over the next five years, patients will have more choice in where they receive care. It is our obligation to provide the best possible experience so patients choose Michigan Medicine. Additionally, as more patients with chronic conditions move to outpatient care, it will be important to provide timely access to appointments. To support this expectation, we are working to optimize our capacity and to improve our ability to match patient needs to clinical expertise and availability.

I am extremely excited to see the steps our office — and Michigan Medicine in general — take to improve the patient experience in the years ahead!