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Recognition initiative shares patients’ praise of VUMC employees

Apr. 28, 2021, 2:50 PM


by Mia Garchitorena

A significant focus of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s mission is “Personalizing the patient experience through our caring spirit and remarkable capabilities.”

Each year, there continues to be an upward trend of positive experiences reported by patients and families who visit VUMC, exceeding the Medical Center’s Pillar Goals year-over-year, as measured by survey feedback from patients after receiving care.

Beth Singleton, RN, is one of many VUMC employees to receive positive feedback.
Beth Singleton, RN, is one of many VUMC employees to receive positive feedback.

“Prioritizing the patient has always been at the core of VUMC’s mission, but this has become even more visible as we made ‘Design for Patients and Families’ one of our three strategic directions,” said Paul Sternberg Jr., MD, VUMC Chief Patient Experience Officer. “This intentional placement of patient experience at the forefront of our mission and vision is reflected in the striking progress we have made in our measurement of patient satisfaction,” he said.

“This has been a challenging year, but it has not stopped teams at VUMC from making sure our patients and their families remained at the center of care,” said Brian Carlson, Vice President of Patient Experience. “There is engagement at all levels and in all areas, which is reflected in the scores and feedback we receive. The VUMC family has much to be proud of.”

These positive scores only tell part of the story. The caring spirit and exceptional capabilities of VUMC’s people are also reflected through the more than 6,000 comments received each week from patients via patient experience surveys.

In March 2020, during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the VUMC Patient Experience team created an initiative called the “Exceptional Jo” Recognition Program to connect positive comments from patient surveys with the clinician or workforce members being recognized in those comments. “Exceptional Jo” stemmed from the “Defining Personalized Care” e-learnings initiative.

Lara Mead

“With more than 70% of those comments being positive, the Patient Experience team wanted to share the positive comments with the frontline staff who are caring for patients and to let them know the difference they are making in a patient’s life,” said Lara Mead, director of Service Measurement and Improvement.

During Patient Experience Week (April 26-30), the Patient Experience team is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its “Exceptional Jo” Recognition Program.

The program uses an internal employee analytics portal, developed by Daniel Fabbri, PhD, assistant professor of Biomedical Informatics, to automatically match a comment on a patient experience survey to the employee who accessed that patient’s record in eStar. This computed match allows the Patient Experience Team to send the comment in a personalized recognition email to the employee mentioned. These messages are distributed monthly.

Daniel Fabbri, PhD

For example, Beth Singleton, RN, received the patient comment: “Elizabeth Singleton was excellent; the best I have ever had. She is a credit to her profession and should be commended.”

Singleton was surprised and humbled after receiving this compliment in the patient survey.

“I’ve worked at Vanderbilt 25 years and have received notes and a couple of Daisy awards, but not a patient compliment from a survey,” Singleton said. “I appreciate the recognition and plan to keep providing excellent care to my patients. It helps and definitely feels good to hear positive feedback every now and then,” she said.

“This is making a difference,” Fabbri said of the project. “It’s a low-hanging fruit that boosts morale,” he said.

“I’m very proud of the Patient Experience Team, but I want to emphasize that every member of the VUMC community has played a meaningful role in our patients’ positive impressions,” said Sternberg. “Every day, I hear from patients about how welcoming we are and how often patients experience the warmth and collegiality of members of the VUMC community. We all share in this work, and we should celebrate our success.”

Program highlights include:

  • 8,502 recognition emails have been sent to VUMC employees since March 2020;
  • 75-80% of comments that mention an employee are matched through the employee analytics tool;
  • 370 recipients have provided feedback via a RedCap survey included in the email;
  • 78.6% of recipients reported that receiving the recognition brightened their day

If you have been a recipient of this recognition, you can share your feedback here.

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