by Cheryl Regan
Patients travel to City of Hope for help and healing during a difficult time in their lives. The way employees treat these patients and their family members, even in everyday interactions, can make a world of difference.
|Debra Vasquez disguised herself and posed as a “mystery patient” to gain insight into City of Hope patients’ experiences. (Photo by Cassie Polchow)|
A “mystery patient” program begun this spring is identifying ways to improve these interactions. Through the program, City of Hope staff members enter the medical center posing as patients to understand and evaluate how patients may feel during their visits. The program, part of the iCARE service excellence initiative, is one of many ongoing efforts to enhance patients’ satisfaction with their time at City of Hope.
The iCARE initiative aims to ensure that patients receive excellent service, are treated compassionately and have an outstanding experience at City of Hope. It was developed by the Service Excellence Steering Committee and is a component of Accelerating Care Excellence, a program driving improvements to benefit patients.
Many employees get creative when they assume the role of patient. One mystery patient, Debra Vasquez, R.N., recently went so far as to put on a full disguise — complete with a wig, glasses and a walking cane — to avoid being recognized by her co-workers.
“It is truly great that we have the opportunities as employees to walk in the shoes of our patients and their families, and to be able to make a difference by improving their experiences here,” said Vasquez, clinical nurse coordinator in New Patient Services.
The mystery patient program is just one of many new ways employees are trying to improve patient satisfaction through iCARE. Groups and departments participating in what iCARE calls its “pilot” have come up with a variety of steps to improve the experience for patients, from developing better maps to improving signage.
Five areas are participating in the pilot: Standard Parking, Outpatient Registration, Phlebotomy, New Patient Services and Ambulatory Scheduling.
The iCARE team plans to expand the program to include more employees and departments in the mystery patient program. For more information, visit the iCARE intranet page at www.coh.org/icare.