As a marketing consultant for over 20 years, I’d been focused on client/customer service. So, when I sat in the hospital at my sister Joan’s bedside seeing her condition improve during the first week, I began assessing the patient service from the many healthcare professionals who came into her room, as well as others I observed throughout the hospital.

I began to jot down notes about my observations: how the healthcare professionals acted, what they did and how they treated patients and family members. My plan was to meet with the head of the Intensive Care Unit when my sister was discharged. Tragically, my sister took a turn for the worse and died two weeks after she had been admitted to the hospital.

When I returned home, I came across my notes and debated if I should write an email to the head of the ICU. I thought that if I were that person, I would want to know what I had observed. I wrote Joan’s Family Bill of Rights in memory of my sister, with the hope that the hospital would make improvements in patient and family member care.

The head of the ICU later told me that she cried when she read the document. She passed it along to the hospital CEO and he, in turn, sent it to the heads of the healthcare system. They called me to talk and, within three months, flew me across the country to make three presentations at their facilities.

They videotaped the presentations and said that they would become the “cornerstone” of their training program. This healthcare system took a document written to help improve patient and family member care and used it as a training tool in their hospitals. I’m exceedingly impressed, because they listened.

Although I was prepared to return my marketing company, I was shocked at the number of people who were lined up after each presentation to tell me their stories. I couldn’t believe that healthcare professionals had the same experiences that I did.

I decided to devote my life to improving the patient experience.

Since 2012 I’ve been working with organizations whose mission aligns with mine – improve the patient experience. I’d like to hear from you.

Thank you,

Barbara Lewis

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