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Message from Leadership: Building Enduring Relationships with Consumers

Published on June 2, 2014

By Teresa Wenta, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

One of the great aspects of my job is that I get to read the letters and e-mails our patients send us.  It helps me stay grounded in our mission, and it also helps shed light on the experience we’re providing to our patients. 

While we do a great job focusing on how we can provide our patients with great clinical care, we can’t forget about everything else that goes into creating their overall experience, and therefore their impression, of Providence. Most of the letters we receive don’t address the quality of clinical care, and that could be because they believe, and trust, that their clinical care was excellent. Instead, they tend to write about their overall experience. Patients say things like:  “The staff was incredibly patient with me”; “My nurse was so nurturing and kind and made me feel at ease”; and “My family was welcomed warmly by your staff.” 
However, we also receive letters that show us there is still room for improvement in enhancing the patient experience. Sometimes, we receive comments like: “The nurse was very rude”; “We ended up waiting for over five hours”; and “She walked out of the room without saying a word.” These are comments we have received in just the last two weeks.

So why does this matter?  More than once, letters have ended with “I will never recommend Providence to my friends again,” or “I’m going to contact the Department of Health.”  Sometimes, patients and family members post their thoughts on our social media pages for all to see. Although we certainly receive letters with positive feedback, we must acknowledge as a team that not everyone has the experience they deserve. That’s where efforts of improvement begin, and they’re essential in support of one of our core strategies: Build enduring relationships with consumers.

This strategy states, in part, that we will develop an exceptional consumer-centered experience.  The great news is that this strategy—more than all the others combined—is one that every single caregiver at Providence can embrace and contribute to.
Think about your own past experiences as a consumer.  The quality of the produce at the grocery store was fine, but you left frustrated because you waited too long in the check-out line.  The merchandise at the department store was exactly what you were looking for, but you could barely get a salesperson to acknowledge you.  You love your cell phone, but you dread having to call your wireless carrier’s customer service line because you know you’ll be caught up in an endless maze of phone-tree runaround.
Even if the product (in our case, the clinical care) is excellent, the experience of using the product (frustrating waits, caregiver indifference, process confusion) can create the overall impression of the experience.
So, what can we do as caregivers to ensure our patients have an outstanding experience that matches the outstanding clinical care they receive?  Simply remember the golden rule, which has its basis in the Bible in Matthew 7:12:  “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”
If we were the patients, we would appreciate a warm welcome—let’s extend one.  We would want someone to exhibit concern and empathy for our well-being—let’s show it.  We would want help navigating our complex healthcare system—let’s offer assistance.
Every day, with every patient, ask yourself “How can I ease this person’s way?”  The possibilities are endless, the rewards are meaningful, and the impact is significant.