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Enhancing Patient Experiences through Self-Reflection on Language and Demeanor

December 14, 2023

When we look towards enhancing the patient’s experience, it’s not always about the time spent with patients. Although more time would be appreciated, healthcare providers can often make a more significant impact through the words used and their overall demeanor.

In this week’s edition of the Healthcare Experience Matters Podcast created by our Healthcare Experience Foundation (HXF) partners, our host, Casey Callanan, interviews Michelle Brady, MSHAL, BSN, RN, CPXP, the Chief Experience Officer & Director of Relationship-Based Care at MyMichigan Health.

Joining them is Katie Owens, HXF’s President and PRC’s Senior Vice President, Excellence Accelerator®.

“Patients are more likely to grant you grace if they genuinely feel you care about them. This is crucial and cannot be understated,” emphasized Michelle.

“What I ask of folks doesn’t require additional time. It’s about showing up in the way you already do your work,” she added.

With decades of experience as a registered nurse, Michelle embarked on her journey straight out of high school, initially working bedside in the emergency department during night shifts.

Over the years, she transitioned into leadership roles, and in 2020, she assumed the role of Chief Experience Officer, overseeing all aspects of patient experience, from surveys and data to patient relations, grievances, and complaints.

Additionally, she leads training and development for experience strategy and serves as the Director of Relationship-Based Care with MyMichigan Health.

Both Michelle and Katie discuss the value of healthcare providers engaging in some soul-searching by self-examining their words, demeanor, and overall approach to patient care to drive significantly better patient experiences and outcomes.

Much of today’s conversation boils down to improving how we “show up” for patients every day and carrying with us a mindset of compassion.

Michelle urges a shift in language, emphasizing the significance of addressing patients by their names rather than room numbers, and she shares poignant examples of reassurance and fostering a sense of security during the most vulnerable moments for patients (and their loved ones).

The conversation also delves into the core of what “relationship-based care” means in practice, encouraging clinicians to be aware of implicit biases and adopt a more compassionate mindset. Delivering truly excellent patient care depends on cultivating compassion through language.

It is a powerful tool in making patients feel safe.

Michelle challenges traditional terms like “frontline” and “in the trenches,” urging a shift towards more empowering language that fosters a positive mindset among healthcare professionals. She shares powerful stories and strategies on how small gestures and thoughtful language can make a profound difference in patient experiences.

This interview also highlights ongoing work on health equity and the need to eliminate stigmatizing language to promote a more patient-centered approach.

The intersection of health equity and language is undeniable and important for all of us working in this field to recognize. Respecting diverse worldviews and the need to eliminate stigmatizing language from the healthcare vocabulary is key.

In the closing moments, Michelle emphasizes the central role of relationships in healthcare and how they act as a buffer during challenging times. She encourages healthcare professionals to integrate compassion into their daily interactions.

Michelle’s wealth of experience and genuine passion for patient-centered care make this episode perfect to listen to during this holiday season. We are inspired by her insights and authenticity.

Click below to listen to the episode: