Q&A with Children’s Hospitals & Clinics’ Joy Johnson-Lind


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Late last year, I shared the story of one of our key partners, Arik Hanson, and his family’s experience at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. As I recently revisited the post with Arik, I couldn’t help but wonder what was behind some of the great work the folks at Children’s were doing.

So, I sent them a note to find out.

What I learned was pretty amazing. Led by Joy Johnson-Lind, the Children’s team has really taken a leadership role, both locally and nationally, when it comes to meeting—and exceeding–patient and parent expectations within their hospitals and clinics through innovative ideas and partnerships across the community.

In the conversation below, you’ll see some of the remarkable patient experience work happening at Children’s—and how it’s making an impact on their bottom line and their reputation as a pediatric provider of choice across Minnesota.

Can you talk a little about your role at Children’s Hospitals & Clinics of Minnesota and how it relates to customer (or patient, in your case) experience?
I am the director of child and family services at Children’s Hospitals & Clinics of Minnesota. In this role I oversee a phenomenal team that is on the front line of patient-family support. This includes unique service areas such as child life, social work, chaplaincy, and interpreter services that create a one-of-a-kind experience for the entire family at Children’s. Our Family Resource Centers, Welcome Centers, and very own in-house TV production, Star Studio, are additional areas that make the experience of being at Children’s unlike any other hospital environment.

Most importantly, we don’t do this alone. My team, and many teams across Children’s, involve families in nearly everything we do to make sure we get family-centered care right the first time. Our Families as Partners program creates unique volunteer opportunities for parents to connect with staff and other patient families, and Family Advisory Council is a visible and passionate group of parents who use their own experiences to help shape the care experience at Children’s.

At Children’s, you put so much emphasis and thought into the patient experience for the kids. You have an on-site library on the Minneapolis campus. Offer Geek Squad assistance to families staying at your hospital. And your new suites on the Minneapolis campus are a direct result of feedback from kids and parents. Which approaches/tactics have really resonated with kids in the last year or so?

Access to new technology. Technology plays a significant role in helping patients and their families adjust to the experience of being in a hospital. It makes it easier to stay in touch with friends, relatives, and classmates, creates a needed distraction, and helps kids stay current with school, and parents stay connected with work. Technology also brings resources closer that can help families understand their diagnoses, conditions, therapies, and treatment plans. That’s one reason on-site Geek Squad is so important; with increased technology can come increased ‘techno stress’ (what happens when technology fails during times of real need). Together we help eliminate that stress so kids can be kids, families can focus solely on healing, and staff can focus on care delivery.

We are also very aware of the diverse communities we serve. We love that about Children’s. So we know it’s important to take a panoramic view of all the pieces that come into play when creating a positive patient-family experience. A child-friendly room where parents can comfortably stay by their child’s side is critical to the healing process. So is something familiar and comforting like choosing a favorite book from the library bookwagon delivered by a volunteer. Or calling into our in-house TV show, Star Studio, to play bingo or answer a game show question with The Dude. All we see are kids and we try to think of everything, and all of these things, big and small, come together in equally important ways to create an environment like no other that supports healing for mind, body and spirit.

What interesting patient experience-type projects are you working on right now?

Our Arts and Healing program creates a wonderfully vibrant in-hospital environment, and also provides rich, hands-on arts activities for kids in the hospital. Through the program we currently have several local arts partners who help lead arts initiatives. Minneapolis Arts Institute, through philanthropic support of Piper Jaffrey, supports Art out of the Box, a pre-packaged arts toolkit used throughout the hospital in Minneapolis. Children’s Theater Company, COMPAS, and MacPhail Center for Music have each been active in our new performance space in Minneapolis, which we then broadcast on our own TV channel to both hospital campuses.

Our hospital’s Youth Advisory Council also is moving on an idea to incorporate newer, more fun and interesting clocks in our patient rooms. The council gave us the inspiration for everything you see in our new private patient rooms, and they continue to give us ideas on where we can improve.

At Children’s, I know “customer experience” doesn’t just mean “patient experience”–you also focus on the experience parents have when they visit your facilities. Can you talk a little about how you ensure parents have a positive experience, too?

We treat the entire family. By inviting parents to be our partners in their child’s health care experience we encourage them to openly share suggestions, ideas, needs, wants, and wishes. We receive feedback through multiple channels or “listening posts.” We administer Picker and Truth Point surveys, make post-discharge follow-up calls and encourage parent representation on hospital committees and patient-family experience projects.

However, “listening” is a critical skill for each and every staff person who works alongside the parents of our patients. The dialog and conversations we have with parents on a daily basis are not only an important part of that particular family’s experience, they also have the potential to shape and influence how we move forward with the care we provide for other families. We are a mission-driven organization, and we’re all here for the purpose of helping children and families heal. Our Service Standards also provide a foundation for the patient-family experience and every employee assumes responsibility for making it positive; it’s not just one department’s job to see that through.

Finally, how do you measure success when it comes to patient experience at Children’s? In other words, how do you measure the impact of the patient experience on the organization’s bottom line?
Patient satisfaction survey results give us one look at quantitative data. But ultimately, when a family has a positive experience at Children’s and leaves with a high level of satisfaction, they return to their home community and are more willing to recommend our services to others; and return to Children’s for future care themselves. We know this. That willingness to recommend also affects our bottom line through referring physicians who are in turn more likely to send their patients to Children’s for care following a great experience, and more families will proactively ask their pediatrician to go to Children’s when a referral is needed for care. It means that Children’s will become the pediatric provider of choice at the time of need for all families and for all levels of care.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Linda Ireland
Linda Ireland is co-owner and partner of Aveus LLC, a global strategy and operational change firm that helps leaders find money in the business performance chain while improving customer experiences. As author of Domino: How to Use Customer Experience to Tip Everything in Your Business toward Better Financial Performance, Linda built on work done at Aveus and aims to deliver real-life, actionable, how-to help for leaders of any organization.


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