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Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center is a hospital that works to improve the health and quality of life in our communities. Introducing a position titled "Emergency Department Companion", supports our values, goals, and mission towards our community. This position will strive to reassure and guide patients throughout their entire time in the Emergency Department, improving quality education and enlightening our patients' lives by making them know that no one is left behind in our hospital. We strive for better healthcare and aim to improve quality education and good health and well-being.
Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center introduced a pilot program that focuses on improving quality care, patient education, and operations. The position is titled “Emergency Department Companion”; this program focuses on advocating for our patients. Speaking from experience, not everyone is well accustomed to the process of the Emergency Department nor are they in a state to proceed without assistance.
The ED Companion position is mainly stationed in the lobby of the Emergency Department. The companion is constantly aiding patients throughout the process, providing reassurance, and being a listening ear for our anyone.
Improving coordination and operational flow of the Emergency Department is a byproduct of this position. Looking from the inside out, the companion can improve communication between multiple departments to get swift results due to being well accustomed to the patients that check-in.
Quality Education and Good Health and Well-being are the main sustainable development goals that Providence is promoting with this innovation. Healthcare is a field where the finish line is always moving further away. The reason for that is that we always want to find ways to improve quality care and strategically introduce new innovations to better the system.
Looking at data, we realize we can do more. Focusing on patient satisfaction, innovation, and overall improvements to healthcare, an idea was hatched. The Director of User Experience at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center has high hopes that this ED Companion program will reveal so many avenues to improve the healthcare system.
In our hospital, we are continuously looking to innovate. A personal story was shared by a colleague about his recent experience in the Emergency Room. His child suddenly became ill, and he and his wife went to the Emergency Room to get help. Once they stepped foot in the Emergency Room they were in a constant state of unawareness and worry. Not knowing what to do, where to go, and what’s next. These are questions that most people like to have answers to. However, throw in long queues with zero to minimal reassurance while waiting for your child to receive care. Add all those variables together and it creates a stressful environment. At some point, patients might even feel forgotten and decide to leave without getting care. As a healthcare organization, we realize we needed to provide more patient advocacy. Not only will this help with making our patients/visitors feel heard, but also support our clinical staff with their heavy workload. Our team said, “By having memorable touch points with patients/visitors, we continue to put the care in healthcare”.
Nurses, Administration, Security, and Patients have voiced nothing but positive statements about this project. One patient verbally stated, “It is about time someone started providing direction to the patients in the lobby”. Since the creation of this program, the first nurse, who is the clinical staff responsible for the lobby, is not constantly overwhelmed. The security staff must stand as a figure of authority and manage patients and visitors who enter the lobby. Tempers are flared, people are leaving and coming, and it is hard to be stern and approachable at the same time. Finally, they have me to support them with assisting the patients/visitors that leave and enter. Patients are the main party that is positively affected by the position. Being present with them and hearing them out is something that goes a long way.
The effects of this innovation consist of mental relief for the patients/visitors that checked in to the Emergency Room. Reduction of burnout from front-line ER process staff due to a companion being a supporting cast. Increased Press-Ganey (satisfaction) scores for the hospital. Reduction of patients leaving without being seen and/or treated.
While the innovation is still in the pilot stages, we have made great leaps in improving the overall process of the Emergency Room. From a business standpoint, we have improved the ER's Press-Ganey (patient satisfaction) scores. We have increased the operational flow and reduced bottlenecks in the front-line process. The possibilities of this innovation are limitless. Other healthcare organizations are adopting this idea and piloting them as well.
From a patient/employee view, we made the ER process more succinct. Employees feel they have an extra person to rely on rather than putting all the pressure on themselves. Patients feel heard and cared for while waiting. As this position started to scale, we heard nothing but positive comments from everyone. Revenue wise it is something that we must look at long-term. I am optimistic to say that the stature of the organization will be raised due to the positive outcomes and experiences of patients who interact with the ED Companion.
So far, we have a total of 4 employees piloting this program across the United States. Our goal is to staff this ED companion role to all Providence organizations and affiliates. Burnouts are always in the limelight of healthcare. This position will hopefully aid in reducing burnout for our healthcare workers as not only do the patients get reassurance but so do the employees.
The ED Companion also works on enriching the lives of patients. Let's be honest, the Emergency Department can be quite daunting. Some people come in alone and have no friend or relative to support them. Others are just not accustomed to the process. The companion provides a sense of ease to our patients and visitors.
No one needs to go through the process alone. That is how this innovation benefits society. We provide education and a sense of understanding to our patients. After only a couple of months of this project, I am happy to say we are making great leaps and continue to scale. So far, we have 3 hospitals that are piloting this position. As the year goes by, we are going to continue to improve good health and well-being as well as quality education for all. Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity, not a threat.
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Shawn Merrill, Director User Expereince
Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center is a hospital that continuously strives to innovate and improve our healthcare system. We aim to create an employee-first organization as they directly support our patients. As we open our doors to welcome anyone and everyone, we also open our arms. As a team, we can truly continue to put care into healthcare.