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Dome - Providing a Five-Star Patient Experience

Dome March 2015

Providing a Five-Star Patient Experience

Date: February 27, 2015


Ronald R. Peterson
President, The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System
Executive Vice President, Johns Hopkins Medicine

Daniel Coit Gilman, the first president of The Johns Hopkins University and the first head of The Johns Hopkins Hospital, was way ahead of his time.

As far back as 1889—the year we opened—he recognized that to be a first-class hospital, we had to operate with the same concern for patient comfort that a first-class hotel provides for its guests. He even visited top hotels in New York to study their methods.

In recent decades, we did not fully follow Gilman’s example when it came to paying attention to the service side of what we do for our patients. We tended to focus more on the science and the technical aspects of patient outcomes rather than what is now called “the patient experience.” 

Patients today care a great deal about the service levels in hospitals, and about how they and their families are treated.

The public, as well as federal and state regulators, are zeroing in on the wealth of information about patient experiences now available online. Many patients are deciding where to go for treatment based on what they read.

Next month, the government-approved survey of patients’ experience—the  Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS)—will switch from its complicated ranking method to an easy-to-understand star rating system. We’ll be ranked as either a one-, two-, three-, four- or five-star hospital—just as hotels are often ranked now.

Naturally, we aspire to be a five-star hospital. Indeed, among our strategic priorities is to become the national leader in the provision of patient- and family-centered care. Our faculty members—and especially our nurses—eagerly support this goal, and we’ve adopted some practical steps to achieve it. Each of the Johns Hopkins Health System’s hospitals has a patient and family advisory council, with former and current patients and their families who provide feedback regularly on their hospital stays. We’ve done away with restrictive visiting hours, enabling families to visit our patients 24/7. Increasingly, we arrange for family members to spend the night in their loved one’s room.

We know, as Gilman did, that part of what goes on—or should go on—in any hospital is to be attentive not only to the technical aspects of treating our patients, but caring for their needs as human beings as well.