At the heart of every positive interaction is clear communication. In a clinic setting, communication can sometimes become muddled with concerns like long wait times, unclear explanations or late arrivals to appointments. This year, staff across Mass General for Children (MGfC) heard from staff and parents of MGfC patients on how to provide the best experience possible and diffuse challenging situations.

In the days or weeks after discharge, patients and families are randomly selected to receive a phone call from the Center for Quality and Safety (CQS) at MGfC to share their perceptions of the care they received. Specifically, patients are asked to reflect on the helpfulness and courteousness of their providers and hospital staff and on how well providers explained various aspects of care, from diagnoses to procedures and tests. Patients’ responses to the survey, a standardized tool called the Clinician and Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CGCAHPS), help drive improvements to patient care throughout MGfC.

In three innovative trainings, two parents from the Pediatric Family Advisory Council (PFAC) expanded on the most recent CGCAHPS survey results and shared what makes for a more positive hospital experience. The sessions, hosted by the MGfC Quality and Safety Team, and facilitated by the PFAC and the Practice Improvement/Service Excellence Division at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Massachusetts General Physician’s Organization (MGPO), also allowed staff to learn tips to improve how they interact with patients and families before, during and after a visit.

“Listen, be thoughtful in your responses, set expectations and be proactive,” said Janice Morris, a parent on the PFAC from Boston, Mass. “As parents, we know how good you are at what you do and how much you care, but it’s important to understand that families and providers each come to a visit with outside challenges that the other party might not be aware of or have control over.”

In addition to the parent view, Sharon Badgett-Lichten, LICSW, gave tips on how staff can take small, but powerful steps to delivering excellent patient care. “Be proactive by asking yourself, ‘What can I do ahead of time that can help avoid or ease difficult situations?’” said Badgett-Lichten, senior organizational development specialist in Service Excellence in the Mass General and MGPO Practice Improvement Division. “For example, prepare paperwork before patients arrive, clarify room signage and confirm appointments via text, email or letters.”

The key to a more positive experience, however, was to use the LEAD model. “Before you respond, remember to Listen and Empathize. Then remember to Acknowledge and Do the Right Thing,” said Badgett-Lichten. “Deal with yourself and how you can respond. You cannot change who people are, but you can help improve a challenging situation and de-escalate a difficult interaction.”

The Pediatric Family Advisory Council is dedicated to the continuous development of a positive partnership among parents, children and staff to ensure the needs of children and families are met during their experience at Mass General for Children.

The MGfC Quality and Safety team strives to create a culture of continuous improvement through communication, education and data-driven improvement. The MGfC Quality and Safety team is dedicated to working with leadership, staff, patients and families to provide the highest quality, safest and patient-centered care at Mass General for Children.