I have this thing that happens to me every now and again where out of nowhere, my stomach suddenly starts convulsing, not particularly violently, and yet uncontrollably. It is almost always accompanied by some level of eye discomfort, leading to a welling up or watering of the eyes. Interestingly, this condition is always triggered by a similar set of circumstances: I’m watching a movie, or I’m listening to a talk, and something happens or the speaker says something that is particularly poignant. Perhaps it’s an account of heroism in the face of grave danger, or hearing someone describe a tragic loss, or maybe it’s witnessing a moment of bittersweet joy such as proud parents, through smiles and tears, watching their child head off to college. I’ve concluded that, fortunately, these convulsions aren’t symptoms of some sort of neurological or gastrointestinal illness, but rather the physical result of sympathy, compassion, and the emotions that go along with those things trying to force their way to the surface.
You see, I lead the data warehousing and analytics practice at DTA, and that means I am an IT person. Being an IT person means that experiencing raw emotion is somewhat foreign, hence the reason I am presented with disease-like symptoms when I get hit right in “the feels” as the kids call it. I should also mention that I am never stricken with this condition at IT conferences (which is an indictment of IT conferences…but that’s a topic for another blog post). I am, however, regularly afflicted when I am at patient experience conferences or am involved with patient experience-related work.
I had a particularly strong recurrence of my condition recently at the NRC Health Symposium for Patient-Centered Care, which is a patient experience conference where clients of NRC get together to share successes and learnings, and to generally encourage one another in continuing to improve the patient experience in their various hospitals and clinics. I was there to cheer on Richelle Jader, Director of the Emergency Department of Regions Hospital (St. Paul, MN), a client of ours whose team was nominated for an Improvement Best Practice award for their work in the Emergency Department. I’m happy to say Richelle and Regions won, despite being up against some strong competitors in Baylor, Scott & White Health-McLane Children’s Hospital and Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Medical Center! Although it was exciting to hear Regions called as the winner, it was the inspiring patient care stories that were told during the conference, and the gentle reminders of why we are all in healthcare (the patient!), that really challenged my staid IT-guy façade.
As inspiring as the conference talks were, however, in many ways they were preaching to the choir. At lunch one day I was talking with another conference participant, and she said something that I think is spot on: “The people who come to these conferences aren’t the ones who most need to hear what we’re hearing.” She wasn’t saying that patient experience leaders don’t need to be reminded about why we’re all doing this, but what she was saying is they tend to be the ones who are reminded most often, and there are so many others who are rarely presented with this perspective (such as…IT people like me perhaps?).
The bottom line is that I appreciate that Regions being up for an award afforded me the opportunity to attend the NRC conference, remember the patient, and exercise my emotional responses to tear-jerking stimuli! Congrats Richelle and Regions!
The results of this team’s work and how they’ve sustained those results in the department long after our DTA team had left is impressive. You can download the full case study here: Regions Hospital – Saint Paul, MN Improving Care Team Communication & Patient Experience Case Study