Kindred’s Commitment to the Patient Experience

By Maggie Cunningham
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"We must distinguish ourselves on the quality of CARE we provide, the FUNCTION we restore or maintain, the COMPASSION we show our patients and each other, and the PHYSICIAN we work with and support. Kindred must provide SERVICE and a patient experience that is second-to-none."  

This is the message Dr. Marc Rothman, Chief Medical Officer of Kindred Healthcare, conveys in his recent video addressing Kindred's company-wide commitment to improving the quality of the care they provide day in and day out.

Today, Dr. Rothman listens to the voices of our patients and their families to gain insight on our care nationwide. How? By reading online reviews.

"To me, their message is clear," said Rothman. 

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He is able to pinpoint specific and consistent wants and needs of those receiving care from Kindred facilities or practitioners. To start, patients and families want their needs not only met, but anticipated. Most often, they want us to communicate with them frequently about the plans of care and what will happen next. Patients and their caregivers or families want to be heard and they want us to respond patiently and professionally when they have a problem or complaint. Lastly, Dr. Rothman informs, when they see Kindred colleagues treating each other well, they feel safer in our care.

So what is the "patient experience?" It begins from the minute patients meet or speak with their first Kindred caregiver. This may be anyone from an intake nurse to someone at the front door of our hospitals. Each moment and interaction from that point forward becomes an opportunity to meet and hopefully exceed expectations.

When asked, "What is the patient experience to Kindred?" Susan Sender, Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer of Kindred at Home, explained that in its simplest terms, "the patient experience is how a patient feels at the end of the day." Tony Disser, Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer of the Hospital division, added that, "if we have that relationship with them, that we are going to be with them that whole time, that makes [the patient's experience] all better."

Knowing what the patient experience means from the perspectives of the patients and their families, means stepping into their shoes. We know that it's important to be friendly and polite. But the total experience goes beyond bedside manners and simple pleasantries. It's about meaningful relationships between the patients and Kindred clinicians.

This year, Kindred is taking important steps to understand and enhance this patient experience journey. As we move to a common service and patient experience assessment tool across the company, we hope to take even more significant steps in our efforts to improve service and quality. To do this, we are embarking on two major, enterprise-wide, strategic initiatives.

The first of these two initiatives consists of collecting uniform patient experience data across the entire enterprise.  Standardizing the tools across all divisions will allow Kindred to standardize reports, compare ratings across our lines of business, track a patient's entire Kindred experience, regardless of transitions, and lastly, it will allow us to monitor our patient experience improvement.

To obtain patient experience data, a task force was developed with representatives from each division and across multiple functions within Kindred. This task force selected Press Ganey, a national leader in patient experience assessment. At the end of this process, we will finally hear the same voice from our patients company-wide.

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"Especially for a company like Kindred, where we have patients going from one setting to another and then back, or to a third setting, " said Sender, "what a great opportunity to measure how that patient felt throughout that entire continuum. That's groundbreaking."

The implementation of the Press Ganey tool is occurring in phases; some locations have already gone live with the program while the remaining locations' implementation occurring throughout 2016 and finishing up at the beginning of 2017.

The second piece to the patient puzzle can only come once data is collected and reviewed from Step One. With these results, our charge in 2017 will be the development and implementation of our own unique patient experience program. Just as we need to hear the voice of our patients, we need to appreciate the voices of our caregivers and colleagues, too. Building a culture focused on the patient experience will not only benefit our patients, it will also make Kindred a better place to work and grow.

"You might think that what you do may not have had an impact on people," said Jon Rousseau, executive vice president of Kindred Healthcare and president of Kindred Rehabilitative Services. "But I can guarantee you that a lot of the things that our clinicians and teammates do every day have a ripple effect."

SERVICE is at the heart of what we are about. We are committed to making the patient experience the best it can possibly be.