Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ready Resolve at NYU

Here is a really neat program at NYU's Tisch Hospital. Employee volunteers (each one serves for one hour per day for one week every other month) visit patient rooms and conduct a quick on-the-spot survey of patient needs and follow up to solve a series of common problems -- do the phone and TV work properly; are the room and bathroom clean; did you get the meal you ordered. The Ready Resolvers either fix or call in any problems imediately. The responding departments are responsible for resolving the problems within two hours. If they cannot fix the problem right away, they send a staff member to visit the patient to explain in person.

This began as a pilot in June on three units, with 27 volunteers. It was expanded in August to 4 additional units, with 63 volunteers.

Interesting, too, that the Ready Resolvers started to uncover problems that were systemic in nature, that require further hospital-wide work.

I like this idea. If you work in a hospital, here or elsewhere, do you?


Anonymous said...

I think this is a great way to show our patients that we care about them.

Bridgett said...

A great idea, especially if paired with good follow through. If the Ready Resolvers keep catching systemic problems and seeing no results, that's a different story of course!

Anonymous said...

As an employee at BIDMC I think this would be a fantastic way to enhance the personalized, compassionate care we strive to give each of our patients.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,

I currently have an office position here at BIDMC, but I did volunteer at community hospital in my town when I was in high school. Most of my work as a volunteer involved transporting patients. Although there was some interaction with patients who were well enough to talk, conversations didn’t go much beyond the state of the weather and/or simple small-talk.

The idea you mentioned actually seems like it would be a very good way to interact with patients to the point where they can say something like “that person really improved my stay” as oppose to “that person was nice.” Additionally, if the hospital decision makers would be willing to improve processes and make changes based on volunteer feedback, it would make the volunteer feel that he/she really has an impact on the organization.

Probably most important however, the idea would definitely improve patient satisfaction. Not only do you have to consider that we are asking individual patients if anything outside of their medical care needs to be addressed (which they may think is to trivial to bring up to the medical staff), but those patients without many family members around may find this as a good distraction.

Just my two cents. I hope your day is going well.


Unknown said...

Used to work and now consult with hospitals. Write an article on the concept of the Chief Experience Officer last year for Health Leaders, someone charged with assuring that the experience across the system is exceptional. You have created an army of experience officers.

Anthony Cirillo, FACHE, ABC

Sara said...

This is a great example of the power of hospital volunteerism and one reason why it is in the best interest of hospital administration to be good to their volunteers - AND the Volunteer Department staff!

I used to work as Volunteer Coordinator at a major academic hospital and I am currently involved in helping a smaller local hospital improve its programs. Investing just a little more in the salaries and budgets of a good volunteer management team would pay off for any hospital in spades. It is a shame that these departments are often seen as a “nice” service, but one that is expendable. Most volunteer departments I have encountered scrape and scrounge for resources and are successful mainly because of the unpaid overtime of the good-hearted people who work there. I’m sure people don’t realize how much work goes into making sure volunteers have been screened, trained, supervised, and appreciated properly. The Joint Commission can encounter volunteers in any number of areas, so they have to be as prepared as staff in a lot of ways. Keeping the balance between engaging volunteers in meaningful work while not drowning them in bureaucracy is the job of volunteer managers.

Volunteers are the people who have the time to really sit and listen to patients. They aren’t being pulled away by a sicker person, or a ringing phone, or a pager going off, or a mountain of unfinished paperwork. They are willing to give the gift of their time and attention to patients. They often learn things that patients don’t tell staff, or that staff doesn’t have time to listen to. While this resource isn’t completely free, the price of building a strong volunteer department is a bargain when you consider the patient satisfaction that volunteers can generate.

Anonymous said...

I heard a presentation at the ASHRM conference in Oct about a program at Boston Medical Center that sounded similar to this. Sheryl Katzanek, director of patient advocacy at BMC, presented with Kathleen Murray, director of risk management. They were great and have worked hard to connect advocacy with risk management. They described an additional program that stations volunteer employees outside (on the sidewalks) to intercept and help patients and visitors who have trouble finding their way around at BMC.

Jane Sherwin said...

I remember vividly how, many years ago, I was in the hospital (not BIDMC!) for a c-section. I realized that I had come in with the strange notion that I would be staying in a hotel, where people would provide services for me, and I could relax (after nine months of getting bigger and bigger). But, of course, I was there to work--to take care of my new baby and to heal myself. It is work being a patient in a hospital, even when you are resting. So I would expect the Ready Resolvers to be most helpful when they have in mind, if not out loud, the question "How can we make sure your working conditions are optimum for your healing?"

KERaven said...

I think it is a great idea, as is any method of submitting similar problems and having them get fixed in a timely fashion. There was a room on Farr 10 which had a large area of damaged paint for months and months. I knew it was one of a thousand rooms I visited regularly and most of the others looked fine. However the patients and families in that room didn't know all the rest of rooms weren't the same way. But who was I to notify the paint needed to be fixed?

I am now remember that you could dial "FIXIT" at MIT to leave a message for physical plant about such things -- i.e. broken doors, burned out lights, room that were always too hot or too cold, etc.

EB said...

A a position I had in a New York City hospital 10 years ago, we conducted this same program. It was a tremendous satisfier. I am glad that NYU has taken it on.

Jen S McCabe said...

Paul -

When I was a Guest Relations Associate/Patient Advocate working my way through my senior year of college at a local community hospital ED, we administered a program called "Speak Up!" based on JCAHO recommendations.

Part of the PA's job involved 'rounding' on the inpatient floors. We'd go literally to each room, distributing the "Speak Up!" information to patients/family members, introducing ourselves and spending some time talking to them about their hospital stay.

As you can imagine, much of our time revolved around listening to patients with ears perked for issues that needed to be addressed, whether they manifested as a broken telephone cord (isolated incident) or a less-than-constructive conversation with a physician (systemic issue - we often heard repeated complaints about the same caregivers).

We brought these issues back to the administration via our head PA.

If the issue was in ANY way remotely involved in patient care, employee/visitor safety, etc., we entered a variance into our Hospital Information System describing the issue.

We were a small, tight team of five PAs (1 FTE, 4 PTEs). As such, we were a relatively inexpensive force for the hospital to train and maintain.

The Ready Resolvers program is brilliant not only because it uses current employees as volunteers, but also due to beneficial effects it has on employee morale.

You get employees to reconnect with patients, observe and report semi-obvious issues, and have a constructive feeling of having solved something.

A seemingly commonplace, small interaction can literally 'save' a patient's experience. My time as a Patient Advocate was still my most rewarding and challenging job to date, and influenced me to pursue a career in hospital administration. But I digress.

What I'm trying to say is that every hospital should have a program like this, whether rounds are made by volunteers or employees (and there are advantages/disadvantages to both models).

Thanks for sharing.