UTMC’s patient experience transformation on cover of leading industry publication

January 24, 2012 | News, UToday
By Jon Strunk

As word of The University of Toledo Medical Center’s success has continued to spread, one of the premier industry publications that evaluates and reports on patient satisfaction has taken notice. The Press Ganey magazine Partners features UTMC and iCARE University as the cover story on its January/February issue.

In November, UTMC’s push to improve patient satisfaction landed UTMC and iCARE University a mention in The New York Times.

Dr. Scott Scarborough, senior vice president and executive director of UTMC, said the story speaks to the journey the hospital has started, changing a culture that always has provided great care, but not always great patient experiences.

“We have always had great clinical outcomes, and recently we received an honor from U.S. News and World Report, which ranked us No. 1 in the Toledo area, but our patients sure weren’t seeing us that way,” Scarborough said in the article. “We looked at where we stood in the state of Ohio, and we were 140th out of 147 hospitals on HCAHPS [Hospital Consumer Assessment of Health Providers and Systems]. We were saving people’s lives, yet they were walking away angry. We had to learn how to save lives and still treat people like human beings.”

HCAHPS is a government survey tool used to gauge patient satisfaction.

“We were told [changing the culture] is a three-year journey to turn this thing around,” Scarborough said. “Things really got moving only a year ago when we brought in the best patient experience director we could find in Ioan Duca.”

Duca, who was leading a similar transformation at Oakwood Healthcare System in southeastern Michigan before he came to UTMC, established iCARE University to help teach caregivers how to reduce patients’ anxiety, increase the clarity of their own communication, and to focus on the patient, not on their own stress.

“More than anything,” Duca said in the article, “you just see a difference in how employees look. They used to look down when they walked, now they are looking up.”

Duca said the recognition by Press Ganey proves UTMC is making great strides.

“To have the premier industry publication in patient satisfaction hold you up as an exemplar serves as third-party validation that we’re on the right track,” he said. “But as the article makes clear, we’re only about a third of the way to where we ultimately want to be — where the patient is at the center of every action we take and every decision we make.

“UTMC’s effort is on the map nationally now, and we have to live up to our potential. And with Scott Scarborough’s leadership, I know we will.”

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