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Speaker Interview

Dr. Jorge Guzman, Chief of Staff & Chief Critical Care, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi

Tell us something about Cleveland Clinic’s “Patients First” philosophy.
At Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, the “Patients First” philosophy guides everything we do. It works to ensure exceptional outcomes and deliver an excellent patient experience. The vision is to provide sustainable patient satisfaction and have highly engaged caregivers serve patients – and fellow caregivers – with high quality, cost-effective, and safe patient care. To achieve this optimal patient experience, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has developed a patient-centered Institute model, which is built around coordinated, multidisciplinary care. Every step of the patient journey has been designed to provide the best possible experience – from ensuring access to providing a high standard of aftercare. In addition, we work hard on engagement: everybody who works at the hospital is considered a “caregiver,” which has driven employee engagement and helped improved the patient experience.

How has Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi revolutionized patient experience in the region?
It starts with focusing on organizational culture and providing the right training and development opportunities for caregivers. We have a number of proprietary programs, including HEART (Hear, Empathize, Apologize, Respond, Thank), which is our standard for teaching staff to communicate with empathy. Developed by healthcare professionals, this program helps employees understand their role in creating positive patient experiences. We have a dedicated Office of Patient Experience, whose role it is to monitor the entire patient journey and share learnings across the organization. We capture and analyze patient feedback in granular detail to ensure we’re making informed, evidence-based decisions.

How has the mindset of patient experience changed in the last few years?
CCAD deploys a “team of team” approach. We incentivize our teams to achieve the best outcome, which is a novel concept because it aligns the organization to the true goal, which is the best outcome for the patient. That’s supported a real shift in mindset: the focus is on the whole experience and starts with the patient’s perspective. There’s a strong emphasis on empathy in all aspects of the patient journey. One of the results of this has been a move away from the traditional healthcare approach, which is to measure productivity by patient numbers, and more focus on healthcare as a service-oriented profession.

What are the some of the steps taken at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi to measure the patient’s perception of quality of care?
We use the Press Ganey benchmark, which compares patients’ likelihood to recommend against results from more than 100 GCC healthcare facilities. We are currently ranked in the 99th percentile overall. We also have a “Secret Shopper” program, that uses facilities across the hospital and builds these results into our development plan. We are also in the final stages of establishing a patient advisory council, which will be in place by the end of the year and which will make the voice of the patient a permanent part of our leadership culture.  


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