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A Moving Target
Hopkins continues to raise the bar on cultivating a positive hospital experience.

Mother Jacquelyn Greenwell shows off her newborn daughter, Carley Grace, to Christina Meekins, perinatal clinical care coordinator (left), and Joan Diamond, nurse manager in labor and delivery, which achieved a 70 percent patient satisfaction rate.

The joy that comes with delivering a healthy baby doesn’t always compensate for a negative hospital stay, says Joan Diamond. Since 2004, the perinatal nurse manager for the Hopkins Birthing Center has been tracking patient satisfaction survey data culled from new mothers, a group numbering a couple of thousand every year at Hopkins. Based on Press Ganey surveys, in FY07, the OB units’ monthly scorecard showed 50 percent satisfaction. Complaints focused on poor communication and wait times. But thanks to institution-wide efforts to improve patients’ experience, that percentage has climbed to 70, mirroring progress across all the hospital’s inpatient units.

“It’s really simple,” says Diamond. “We work harder to make a good first impression—shaking hands, making eye contact, acknowledging when there’s a problem, apologizing for it, and telling how we plan to fix it.” The nurses also routinely distribute amenities and small gifts, like snack baskets and Hopkins hats for the babies. But the most transformative tactic, she says, has been the addition of a clinical coordinator who rounds with doctors and patients daily. The personal connection and continuity with one staff member have made a huge difference, says Diamond. And, with more antepartum patients—those who need to be monitored eight to 10 weeks before delivery—the need for improved communication is even greater.

One such patient was distraught about not being able to spend time with her 3-year-old at home. In response, the clinical coordinator arranged for a “sleepover” in the mother’s room. That required making plans for supervised play and complying with the hospital’s policies and procedures. “It’s all about giving family care the muscle it needs,” says Diamond. “And once the family builds trust with staff, they’re more likely to trust the whole medical process.”

The inpatient units’ hard work is paying off, says Becky Zuccarelli, the hospital’s patient satisfaction coordinator. Several other units have also already reached the FY09 patient satisfaction target of 70 percent. But like a watchful parent, Zuccarelli reminds staff to always ask, Is there anything else I can do for you? “That lets our patients know we care about them as much as we care for them.”




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