Championing compassion:
Championing compassion: Christine Pettit, unit champion and clinical nurse coordinator for Women’s & Children’s Services, knows that small gestures of empathy can have a big impact on patient satisfaction.

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Nursing Innovations

03. For patients, the little things mean a lot.

Nurses usually know what their patients need. The problem is, they haven’t always known exactly how to go about giving them those things—especially when those things are related to guest services, not clinical care. We decided to change that.

As part of our nursing business plan to boost patient satisfaction scores, we stopped asking consultants and executives what our patients needed, and we started asking our bedside nurses. We created a Patient Experience Team comprised of high-performing nurses on each unit, who became our “unit champions,” and we let them tell us exactly what needed to change.

Food, shelter, clothing … and a better comb.

By surveying patients and staff throughout the hospital, our Patient Experience Team pinpointed a number of small kindnesses and conveniences that brought big smiles—or simply a sigh of relief. We started giving free cafeteria meal coupons, pre-paid phone cards, and even free hotel stays to families who seemed to need them. We gave cards to patients who were spending their birthdays in the hospital. We provided new clothes for trauma patients to go home in. We upgraded the flimsy combs in patient rooms.

“When a new mom can’t leave the hospital as soon as expected, we do everything we can to make her stay a little easier,” says Christine Pettit, unit champion and clinical nurse coordinator for Women’s & Children’s Services. “Sometimes a seemingly small gesture can give her the extra comfort and emotional support she needs—like providing a conference room or gathering space for dad and the kids, so that extended family members can be in the room visiting the mother.”

Ready to help:
Ready to help: When Clinical Nurse Coordinator Trevan Biddulph needs a little something extra for a patient, he knows exactly where to turn: The Patient Experience Resource Book.

“Spending a little downtime in a patient room, especially in the middle of the night, can help someone feel a little less homesick, and a lot more comfortable.“
Christine Pettit, Unit Champion and Clinical Nurse Coordinator for Women’s & Children’s Services

Making it easy for nurses to
help guests.

Giving extra help and services to patients and families is a relatively easy way to boost satisfaction. But it only works if every nurse on every unit knows about these special guest services and feels empowered to offer them. That’s where the Patient Experience Resource Book comes in. It outlines all of the special services nurses can offer to patients and families. Even better, it’s stocked with the tools nurses need to make it happen—like meal coupons and new birthday cards. So making someone happy can be as simple as opening a book.

Building Patient Satisfaction Also in 2010, University of Utah Hospital was named Top Improver by Press Ganey for our dramatic rise in patient satisfaction.

$107,000 saved in just
two years

Before we moved to uniforms, it seemed like everyone in the hospital wore scrubs—from housekeepers and call center workers to RNs and physicians. Today, scrubs are used for their intended purpose: surgery. This simple change has significantly decreased the amount we spend on scrubs.

White nursing uniforms create positive patient perceptions.

Patients don’t judge nurses just based on their clinical training or the letters behind their names. Like all of us, they make judgments based on first impressions. And research shows that they perceive nurses in white uniforms as more professional and competent than nurses in scrubs. Uniforms also help patients distinguish their nurses from their nursing assistants— or any other staff that enters the room.

For those reasons, we decided to eliminate our hospital’s chaotic rainbow of scrubs and put our nurses in consistent uniforms. But as part of our culture of collaboration, we let our nurses have the final say on color. Ultimately, they chose three color options for pants, along with all-white tops; not because they loved the color white, but because they felt it was the right thing to do for our patients.