Friday, September 21, 2012

MGPO focuses on best practices for improving communication


CARING COMMUNICATIONS: From left, Keeley, Fernandez-del Castillo, Whitney, York-Best and O’Connell


Discovering and embracing new ways to strengthen communication between clinicians and their patients was the theme of the MGPO’s second annual fall service excellence program, hosted by the MGH/MGPO Service Excellence Practice Improvement Division. The program is part of the hospital’s ongoing effort to improve the experience of patients and families. 

“For us to be able to differentiate ourselves and maintain the quality and excellence here at the MGH, we have to work on our communication skills as an entire group,” said Alexa Kimball, MD, MPH, senior vice president of the MGPO and vice chair of the Department of Dermatology. “As a testament to our commitment, we have 200 people signed up to attend the talks, symposia and meetings during this two-day program. I think this really speaks to the grassroots nature and enthusiasm surrounding this work.”

The program culminated with a Sept. 18 dinner symposium at the Holiday Inn Boston at Beacon Hill, where nationally recognized health care communication expert Daniel O’Connell, PhD, engaged attendees in conversation during his presentation, “Ten Habits of Highly Effective Clinicians: Best Practices for Improving Communication.” O’Connell, who serves as a consultant to the Institute for Healthcare Communications and is on the faculty of the Foundation for Medical Excellence, showed how clinicians can alter their current habits and routines to work better within both structured and spontaneous encounters with their patients.

“There are really three goals that have been demonstrated to powerfully affect the patient experience,” O’Connell said. “The patients should come away thinking not only was that great clinical care, but also that they were cared about, understood, included in the decisions being made and treated by clinicians who respected their privacy and understood their background. There should also be a mutually agreed-upon treatment plan that the patient is willing to adhere to, and the visit should be done in a time-efficient manner.”

The session also included a panel discussion with Carlos Fernandez-del Castillo, MD, director of the Pancreas and Biliary Surgery Program at the MGH; Carey York-Best, MD, director of the Benign OB/GYN Division and the OB/GYN Clerkship; Adele Keeley, RN, MA, nursing director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit; and Kevin Whitney, RN, associate chief of Nursing. The panelists shared their perspectives on O’Connell’s talk and fielded questions from the audience. Discussion centered on how several disciplines – including physicians, nurses and other clinical professionals – can be more effective in communicating with patients.

The Service Excellence Team is available to help all areas of the hospital improve the patient experience. For more information, contact Rick Evans, senior director of Service, at or 617-724-2164. 

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