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Using maternity-care episodes as templates for improving patients’ experiences


Sanjay Shah, director of strategic innovation at Dignity Health, told FierceHealthcare that when the California-based system considered how it could improve  patients’ experiences, it decided to look at various  moments along patients’ episodes of care by  partnering with a startup focused on maternity care.

Mr. Shah said that the system wants to expand what it has learned so far to other specialties, including oncology and orthopedics, reports Fierce.

“The vision if this is done well, and so far things are going well, is ‘How do we take that experience and extrapolate to other patient experiences? [Maternity] was one we thought if we did right first we could replicate for others.”

The Dignity Health partner, startup Docent Health, studied Yelp responses for maternity patients at four Dignity facilities in Arizona. It found that more than 60 percent of maternity patients who had posted reviews had a favorable view of the experience.

Fierce said: “Many of the comments in the mined data were related to staff and how the patients were treated, with commentary about the hospital staff mentioned in 43 percent of the studied reviews. The study also identified a surprising area these patients were less interested in: Just 2 percent of reviews mentioned billing, an interesting discovery as the costs for maternity care can fluctuate widely.”

Docent has also conducted “welcome calls” about 15 weeks out from delivery to get ideas on what patients expect from care. “The organization identified top requests from expectant mothers, information that organizations can use to benefit other types of patients,” Fierce reported:

  • “Offer a tour: Some pregnant patients would like the opportunity to visit the labor floor and the maternity ward before they give birth.
  • “Provide clear instructions prior to registration: It can be confusing for some patients to understand the requirements for registration and how they can learn more about the care a facility provides.
  • “Ask about prior experiences: Pregnant patients who have had children before want to share their experiences, and that information can be valuable for clinicians to get a better idea of what works and what doesn’t.
  • “Make referrals easy:Expectant mothers will need to set up pediatric care quickly. Offer resources that can speed up that process.”

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Dignity to use non-clinicians to assist expectant mothers


San Francisco-based Dignity Health is offering assistance to expectant mothers with a pilot program using trained nonclinical staff. It’s part of the ever increasing use of non-physician clinicians and non-clinicians to address the increasing service and cost challenges of medicine today.

The program, to be piloted at Dignity Health’s Marian Regional Medical Center, in Santa Maria, Calif., and at Chandler (Ariz.) Regional Medical Center, will use software to help those staff members, called docents, work with patients during their cares at no extra charge to patients.

“Docents will work in conjunction with our clinical care teams, but their roles will differ notably,” says Rich Roth, chief strategic innovation officer at Dignity Health, told Hospitals & Health Networks. “Docents will be fully focused on cultivating relationships with patients and learning their preferences so that we can provide a patient experience that meets the individual needs of the mother-to-be.”

Mr. Roth said that the docents would use technology combined with kindly care to create customized “patient journeys” that take into consideration individuals’ medical histories, preferences and concerns.

“The focus is on an issue most health systems prioritize – to transform the patient experience,’’ Paul Roscoe, CEO of Docent Health, the 18-month-old company  providing technology and services to Dignity for the program. He added that many of the docents have a customer-service background, including in the hospitality industry.

Mr. Roth said that Dignity Health,  which operates in 22 states, may  expand the service to other clinical departments, depending on the  pilot program’s results.

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