The Power of Culture

Added on Nov 5, 2014

Of the many ideas percolating throughout the 2014 Press Ganey National Client Conference, this one—voiced by CEO Patrick Ryan during his opening comments—best encapsulates the driving force behind the ability of health care organizations to keep patients at the center of care and reduce suffering.

As has been shown throughout history, the values of an individual, a group, an organization and even a country shape the progress of each entity. In health care, this effect is magnified by an order of magnitude given the intensity of the relationships that define the interactions. The stories of the individuals featured in the short video documentary that opened the conference made this point with powerful clarity.

The family of Ian Burkhart, a young man who suffered a paralyzing injury in a diving accident, was buoyed during their time of devastation by a care team from Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center  that supported them and met their need for information, compassion and communication.

Jim Burrows, director of service Excellence at Nemours AI Dupont Hospital in Delaware, “cannot adequately describe the gratitude” he and his family have for the care they received from that organization when his daughter Amanda was born with a life-threatening heart defect. “Amanda spent four of her first nine months as an inpatient. She underwent numerous procedures, including three open-heart surgeries. Looking back, what was especially amazing was how every member of the team embraced us, educated us, held us up and gave us hope, all while they were delivering this amazing care. They saved Amanda, but they also saved us.”

Doris Bunte credits the strength of her enduring relationship with her primary care physician, Dr. Charles Morris, associate director of primary care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, to the physician’s honest, earnest communication style and his willingness to deliver care in a manner that best meets her individual needs.

Dr. Michael Bennick, medical director for Patient Experience at Yale-New Haven Hospital, knows with certainty that the secret of excellence in patient care “lies in caring for the patient.” Beyond the provision of medical services, “we must create and maintain a healing environment where the patient and family can flourish, and that takes doctors, nurses and others who work together to establish a culture to support it.”

These snippets do not do justice to the stories of these individuals. They do, however, shine a light on the importance of an organizational culture built on communication, coordination and compassion to meet the needs of every patient.

“Do not ever underestimate the power of culture,” Ryan told the audience. “How your organization’s culture responds to challenges—especially during periods of crisis and adversity—is what will set you apart.”