August 5, 2010

Smith to lead ‘patient experience’ efforts

Smith to lead ‘patient experience’ efforts

Gaye Smith, who has served as Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Chief Privacy and Health Record Official for the past seven years, has been named Chief Patient Experience and Service Officer.

In the expanded role, Smith will continue with her privacy and health record duties while providing leadership to VUMC's approach to service excellence and creating the ideal patient experience.

Gaye Smith

Gaye Smith

Smith will report to C. Wright Pinson, M.D., MBA, deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs and senior associate dean for Clinical Affairs.

“We want to make sure that the patient's experience and relationship with Vanderbilt is what they need it to be,” Smith said. “Patients choose to be involved in their health care in different ways and their personal needs and expectations vary.”

The new role pulls together several areas within the Medical Center in an effort to create synergy and coordination across components of VUMC working to provide excellence in services.

Smith will oversee the Client Relations Department and Office of Patient Affairs in their important work as front line liaisons with patients and families.

“Patients will engage in their health care management at different levels and we should be flexible enough as an organization to be able to package what we provide the patient in a way that meets the individual's personal needs and goals,” she said.

Pinson sees this new area of focus as an integral part of the VUMC strategic initiative around personalized medicine.

“Personalized medicine will enhance the clinical care of the patient and we want to create a patient experience that meets the personal needs and expectations of the whole person,” he said.

“We're hoping you will see, hear and feel us as we try to find out more about what is the ideal patient experience,” Smith said. “We don't want to take the ‘we know what you need and we'll tell you what you need’ approach.”

“We have had an incredible enterprise-wide focus around quality for more than a decade,” Pinson said. “We now want to make sure we have the same level of focus and attention around how we provide patient services.”

Pinson says that as part of this increased effort there is a new council being formed that will be devoted to service improvement. This council will be led by Gitlin, Sternberg and Andre Churchwell, M.D., associate dean for Diversity in Graduate Medical Education, and Leah Harris, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics.

Smith said the needs of both patients and their families will be figured into perfecting the patient experience, adding that the concept of patient-centered care is not new to Vanderbilt.

“The patient advisory groups are an extremely important way for us to get input. We won't be re-creating all that. People are already working hard in those areas. We'll just figure out how to capitalize on our internal experts and help coordinate our resources,” she said.

Smith will work closely with the Medical Center's Chief Medical Officers, Jonathan Gitlin, M.D., assistant vice chancellor for Child and Maternal Health and the James C. Overall professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics, and Paul Sternberg, M.D., assistant vice chancellor for Adult Health Affairs and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.