A Q&A with Dusty Deringer, VP of Patient Experience for Compass One
Hospital stays are difficult for most people, but a delicious, hot meal and a clean room can be a bright spot. Recently, we spoke with Dusty Deringer, VP of Patient Experience for Compass One, to discuss how Morrison and Crothall work to achieve this goal.
Q. What’s involved in the “Patient Experience”?
Dusty: We know that most patients admitted to the hospital don’t want to be there. So, we want to make their stay as pleasant as possible.
From the Morrison side, it involves all aspects of food service. This includes the quality and temperature of the food, the accuracy of their order, on-time delivery and the courtesy of the server.
From the Crothall side, the patient expects the hospital to be 100 percent clean. It’s our job to give them the confidence it is clean. Of course, we also want the physicians, nurses and medical staff to see a clean room. And the cherry on top is courtesy.
Q. Talk to us about creating the right atmosphere? Is it important for it to be something close to what they have at home?
Dusty: Yes. A hospital can be an intimidating place. Most of us don’t have an MD or RN behind our names. Sometimes people in white coats can scare patients. But most patients can relate to food servers and housekeepers.
Q. What actions have the biggest impact on patient experience?
Dusty: I don’t think there is a silver bullet. But consistency in our approach and just trying to be human is important. Showing each patient we care for them is critical. If I had to summarize, it would come down to being friendly and treating each patient like your own family.
Q. Compass One Healthcare has a program dedicated to creating a great patient experience, can you talk a little about it?
Dusty: Yes – Positive Impressions started as an idea on the back of a napkin at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Boston. Lauren Prepchuk has since transitioned roles, but she was a part of our Patient Experience team at the time. Together, we sketched out a concept.
We took our best practices internally, then started looking at other companies, such as Ritz-Carlton and Disney.
The program consists of four elements. First, there are defining moments, which is how we look, talk and interact with patients. Next, we need to engage not only with patients but with nurses and others on the medical staff. Third, our program is tailored to fit each healthcare organization and its needs staff. And, fourth, we want to grow and invest in the expertise of our team, which we believe is unmatched in our industry. We have 200 on-site Patient Experience managers and we’ve invested $11 million annually in our Positive Impressions program.
Q. You mentioned the importance of the HCAHPS scores. What are the challenges to improving our scores in these surveys?
Dusty: Let’s start by defining this term. HCAHPS stands for Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems. It’s a patient satisfaction survey required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for all hospitals in the US. The objective is to help drive quality care and give patients more choices.
We survey patients after they are discharged, so their responses help us understand what drives their experience. When it comes to Crothall, our questions are on room cleanliness. We want to know how often the room and bathroom were cleaned. We also focus heavily on courtesy, which can also drive the HCAHPS score.
Q. It’s no secret that our associates do great work to achieve our goals. Can you tell us about someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to care for patients?
Dusty: I could give you hundreds of examples, but here’s one of my favorites. At the Yale-New Haven Medical Center in Connecticut, we had an older gentleman that couldn’t attend his son’s wedding because he was being treated for cancer. So, our staff rented him a tuxedo and set up a video link so he could watch the ceremony. Then, our chef at the facility, Bobby Martin, our senior director of food and nutrition services, found out the menu for the reception, so he cooked and served the same food to our patient.
The cool thing is that our associates are taking care of patients like that every day. It’s amazing to see and make sure we go above and beyond.