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David Shulkin, M.D. FACP
Ninth Secretary, US Department of Veteran Affairs
It’s been gratifying to watch the world’s reaction to first responders and healthcare workers. Watching the outpouring of appreciation for these professionals as they travel to work and enter their workplaces has been heartwarming. These public celebrations have been one way the average person can give back to those who have stepped up in so many ways during this crisis. But once inside the hospital, most people don’t get to acknowledge the work of these professionals.
Indeed, much has changed within hospitals since COVID infections began. Most hospitals now restrict visitors, including family. Many patients are separated from those they feel most comfortable with and rely upon for support. Without this comfort, the hospital can be a lonely, and scary, place for many patients. In addition, most hospital staff now wear personal protective equipment, making personal interactions more difficult and potentially more impersonal. Anxiety levels during any health crisis almost certainly rise among healthcare workers and patients alike. The COVID crisis is no exception.
We’ve seen a lot of natural experiments in this pandemic. One of these is how patients have reacted to hospital staff in this new hospital environment: Did visitor restrictions, protective equipment, and increased anxiety increase patient criticism of staff?
To answer this question, we studied five hospitals that had a system in place for allowing patients to provide individual comments directly to frontline hospital staff. This system, called Wambi, is a patient-driven and peer-to-peer recognition tool focused on improving burnout and experience. Wambi provides patients with the opportunity to share recognition and feedback with those they’ve interacted with during their time of care. The Wambi system was in place in these hospitals both prior to the COVID19 outbreak and after the outbreak. In this analysis, we examined feedback from 373 patients in these hospitals after March 22, 2020 and compared these comments to the Pre-COVID (Pre-C) period.
Our first finding was that post-COVID (Post-C) there was a substantial increase in specific patient comments sent to hospital staff. Patients seemingly had more to say and wanted to be heard. Comparing Pre-C to Post-C, we found 24% more patients (35% vs. 59%) sent specific comments to staff.
Second, Post-C feedback was overwhelmingly positive and personal. Post-C feedback was intensely personal, with 98% of comments mentioning staff by name. The other 2% commented on the team-based nature of the care delivered. Third, Post-C feedback most frequently involved the staff’s attitude rather than a specific action or outcome of the care. 78% of the comments written by patients in the Post-C period were about a person’s attitude, while just 16% was about a specific action performed, and only 8% focused on the outcome of care.
Seeing this increase in comments to staff in the Post-C period reaffirms what we are seeing almost everywhere. Namely, the in-hospital experience of recognizing the value of healthcare professionals is similar to what we have seen in the broader community that has celebrated healthcare workers as heroes.
This is satisfying to see and addresses an important need in managing through a pandemic. Gratitude and staff recognition have always been important. Good executives have always recognized the association between employee satisfaction, patient satisfaction, and strong financial and clinical results. But in times of crisis, extra support and recognition for staff is absolutely essential. Staff are asked to work under sometimes extreme conditions, with greater patient workloads and more intense physical and emotional demands. Without recognition and feedback, this can lead to rapid burnout, and deteriorating employee morale and mental health.
Direct patient feedback and recognition of effort by name is one of the most powerful ways to accomplish this. Assuring that patients can give this feedback is an industry best practice and will become an essential part of maintaining a healthy workforce in the Post-C world.
It’s good to see that patients recognize that THIS is the medicine our healthcare workers need during these difficult times. Together, patients, administrators, and healthcare professionals, all working to support one another, is the secret weapon that will get us through this crisis.
The Honorable David Shulkin, M.D. is the Ninth Secretary of the US Department of Veteran Affairs and is working to support organizations during the COVID19 pandemic.
PHILADELPHIA, May 12, 2020 — In celebration of this year’s National Nurses Week, Wambi announces the relaunch of Carepostcard, creating a centralized gratitude platform where the public can honor those on the frontlines battling COVID-19. Although people in healthcare have always been a pillar of society, the pandemic has brought to the forefront the heroic efforts of healthcare workers and has triggered a wave in sharing appreciation for them.
Tracey Moorhead, CEO and President of The American Association of Post-Acute Care Nursing (AAPACN), remarks, “Long-Term and Post-Acute Care nurses are healthcare heroes for our nation’s most vulnerable populations. Now more than ever, long-term care nurses should know that their commitment and sacrifice is valued and appreciated by residents and families. AAPACN supports these nurse heroes. We are honored to partner with Carepostcard to ensure our members can receive and share recognition and gratitude for the critical roles they play in providing high quality healthcare.”
Each day, healthcare workers risk their own health and safety by caring for others. Caring for the sick has always been a challenge, but without the requisite PPE and ventilators, the challenge has increased 10-fold. Before COVID-19, burnout was already a major issue for nurses and physicians with over 53% experiencing substantial burnout symptoms.
In these unprecedented times, American citizens are following state and federal guidelines to stay home in order to slow the spread of the novel Coronavirus. Wambi CEO and Co-founder Rebecca Metter reveals, “As we stay home, feeling powerless as we virtually watch what’s unfolding, we can’t help but feel immense gratitude for those on the frontlines. Carepostcard provides a way for us to mobilize and meaningfully contribute in a safe and powerful way.”
Health IT company Wambi launched Carepostcard in July of 2017 to gather messages of gratitude from patients to those who cared for them while they were still in the care setting. That recognition could then be shared with the public to promote compassion and improved human experience in healthcare. Carepostcard is integrated with the Wambi platform in healthcare organizations nationwide, which delivers a real-time recognition and engagement platform for healthcare workers that is fueled by the voices of patients and families. Through sharing and receiving appreciation, Wambi fosters a culture of gratitude and improved staff engagement and patient experiences in healthcare settings.
“In these difficult times, it’s all the more important for healthcare workers to feel kindness, gratitude, and support,” says Wambi Co-founder Alex Coren. “By opening Carepostcard up to the public, we’ve evolved Carepostcard into something much bigger, showcasing and celebrating the stories, moments, and gratitude for those healthcare workers who have impacted our community at large.”
As people create Carepostcards, they can include personal stories of their own experience with healthcare workers, messages of gratitude to family members or friends on the frontlines, or a simple general thank you to the healthcare community. The Carepostcard rebrand and functionality updates also allow for authors to multiply the gratitude by sharing others’ posts to their social networks, all while maintaining the option to remain anonymous. Metter comments, “This will allow the healthcare community to see first-hand the outpouring of appreciation and love that our nation is feeling right now. Our goal is to uplift and inspire those on the frontlines as well as our communities.” Dr. David Shulkin, physician and former U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, adds, “With the heroic acts by healthcare workers on display every day, there is no better time to let them know how much we admire and appreciate their dedication, skill, and caring. Send a Carepostcard today. It’s easy and powerful and needed now more than ever before.”
Follow the Gratitude
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There has never been a more important time to share gratitude with nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers battling COVID-19. Carepostcard allows you to meaningfully honor those on the frontlines by sharing your stories and thanks.
Carepostcard combines real-time gratitude from patients in hospitals and healthcare organizations with appreciation from the public to create a centralized hub to uplift, inspire, and further the Compassionate Care Movement. Whether it was a passing moment or a major event, share your voice with a Carepostcard.
Travis is the Patient Experience Ambassador for Wambi, where he helps share the importance of gratitude with healthcare providers. As a Stage 4 Brain Cancer survivor, Travis draws from his first-hand experience to connect with clinicians and share his perspective in ways that others cannot. The meaningful nature of his work is profound and positively impacts many clinicians in ways that permanently change their practice. He translates the importance of the resilience he learned through his experience to help not only patients, but the clinical team continue, even at the most difficult of times. Travis spends much of his free time volunteering with a local Patient & Family Advocacy Board and multiple young adult cancer survivor groups.
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Jonathan Metter MA, LMFT, partnered with Wambi to create this Wellness Series of guided meditations that focuses on you. Now more than ever, it’s critical for healthcare workers and the public at large to practice self-care, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
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