Achieving and Sustaining a Culture of Patient-Centric Care

How to Make It Happen

For an ASC to develop and maintain a culture of patient-centric care, leadership support is necessary, Braden says. “There is a reason why accreditation and regulatory standards for quality and excellence are tied to governance and leadership. Culture needs support from the top, and then it will flow down through everyone in the facility. When leaders demand that sound safety and quality principles are followed, this attitude eventually catches on like fire and becomes something we all work on together as a team.”

This team mentality is essential, Comerford says, which is why ASCs must make sure all staff members buy into the importance of the culture. “If somebody on the team is a ‘bad egg’ or toxic employee, action should be taken to address this quickly. ASCs do not want to have someone on staff who does not represent them well to all patients.”

ASCs should stress the importance of a patient-centric culture from the moment staff begin to work at the facility, she says. “Culture is a part of the training our staff receive. The training addresses cultural sensitivity and also emphasizes that patients are customers and should never be taken for granted.”

To determine how successful your organization is in its efforts to deliver patient-centric care, Higman says, your ASC needs to assess whether the patient is always front of mind when making decisions. “Put yourself in a patient’s shoes and walk through the whole patient-facing process—the whole care continuum. That starts from initial referral in the physician’s office, even before the patient is scheduled for surgery, and then all the way through the billing component on the back end. Ask yourself throughout the process whether how you perform tasks is the friendliest way possible. I guarantee you will find opportunities for improvement.”

A patient’s satisfaction with a care experience is heavily dependent upon the staff members’ satisfaction with their work, Comerford says. “When people are happy in their workplace, it translates to the patients. ASCs need to treat their employees fairly, which includes an appropriate wage and benefits package. It also includes seemingly small but significant gestures, such as granting time off for family responsibilities and saying thank you for doing a good job.”

Patient-centric care should address more than just patient needs, Higman says. “Make sure you are thinking of the support network around these individuals— their families and friends. Make sure you have discussions and good communication mechanisms with members of the support network before and after surgery.”

Maintain Ongoing Efforts

One of the many tactics Braden’s ASC uses to keep patient safety front and center for its staff and patients is putting educational information on safety, hand hygiene and infection control in its staff, physician and patient bathrooms. “They are great places to have a captive audience,” Braden says. “We publish safety information on our web site, and in our lobby, and make sure patients understand the importance of taking their satisfaction survey, which we use to drive practice decisions.”

Higman advises ASCs to find ways to ensure there are ongoing discussions among staff members about patient-centric care. “Ways to do so can include forming a committee that focuses solely on patient-centered care, establishing metrics to rate performance in this area and using different mechanisms to track your performance. These are systems you can put in place to make sure efforts concerning culture stay consistently on your radar and are not treated as ‘checkbox’ items.”

Comerford says that she has seen many ASCs build patient satisfaction levels by using inventive ways to create a stronger connection between the staff and patients. “Some centers provide a card to patients at the end of their procedure that identifies and includes pictures of the nurses who have provided care during their stay. This gives the patient a way to personally acknowledge caregivers who made their experience a positive one. I think this is a really awesome tool that allows patients to recognize staff, which the staff certainly appreciate.”

The focus on patient-centric care is not going away, and that is good, Higman says. “Talking about culture may seem like a bit of a soft topic, but there is a reason why there is greater attention being paid to it in the ASC industry. It is really important if you are going to have success in attracting patients and continuing to get referrals for your facility.”