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Akron Children's Hospital Recognized for Innovative Patient Experience

11-29-2016 (Akron, Mahoning Valley, Ohio )

Akron Children's has been recognized by Becker's Hospital Review, a leading source of cutting-edge healthcare news, as one of 50 hospitals nationwide with innovative patient experience programs.

According to Becker's, "The hospitals and health systems on this list are among those committed to keeping up with – or getting ahead of – the pace of change in healthcare by forming dedicated centers and institutes for innovation."

One of the ways the hospital's patient experience program is innovative is in its approach, which the center's director, Stefan Agamanolis, PhD, refers to as human-centered design.

"An increasing body of research illustrates how delivering a positive experience in healthcare can improve medical outcomes," Agamanolis said. "For example, reducing stress and anxiety strengthens the immune system, which in turn impacts infection and recovery rates. If an institution is to fully embody a mission to solve medical problems and improve health, it cannot merely provide a technical service – it must also be able to deliver thoughts and feelings in the same way any other business working with human beings must do so."

The center uses a number of tools to glean patient experience information, from surveys and interviews with patients and families to actually including them in the design process for building projects and service lines.

"When we bring the voice of the customer to the table, our potential for positive impact is much greater," Agamanolis said. "They sometimes see things we don't see because we may only be looking at it from one point of view. By involving future users in the design of what they will be using, the project becomes immediately more relevant to the population we serve."

Akron Children’s involved parents in a few important ways in the construction of the Kay Jewelers Pavilion. They helped pick out furniture and make design suggestions to enhance comfort and security, as well as ensured the sizes of spaces and openings would accommodate strollers and wheelchairs.

"You don't have to be a doctor or a nurse to deliver thoughts and feelings," Agamanolis said. "Every employee has the power to reduce patient confusion and stress and infuse trust, which empowers them to play a role in medical outcomes."

The center also employs patient advocates who work firsthand with patient families to resolve grievances.

"Our grievance committee tracks data about patient concerns and complaints to get improvement ideas," Agamanolis said. "We look for patterns and figure out where we should be focusing our efforts."

All new employees participate in patient experience workshops as part of their orientation allowing them to learn how to think about situations from the reference point of our patients and families.

"By collaborating throughout the organization we are able to facilitate idea generation, conduct pilots of new service approaches and interventions, and evaluate their impact with the aim of advancing knowledge and improving our overall patient experience," he said.