Medicolegal Issues

Cleveland Clinic Builds Urgency around Patient Experiences


Efforts to create a greater sense of urgency over patient satisfaction within the hospitalist service at the Cleveland Clinic using an eight-step model for changing organizational culture were outlined in an abstract presented at HM11.

“Attention to the doctor-patient experience should be our guiding principle,” explains lead author and hospitalist Vicente Velez, MD. “No matter how complex the science of medicine gets, the art is equally important.” Physicians can be taught skills in effective communication with their patients and families, Dr. Velez adds.

The initiative began four years ago after the department identified low patient satisfaction scores as a “credibility crisis.” Leadership sprung into action, promoting a vision that HM should be known for its ability to communicate. “Regardless of individual communication style, a proper self-introduction, eliciting the patient’s perspective, and an explanation of the daily plan of care were things we all had to develop as habits,” he says.

Individual projects to advance the agenda included:

  • Communication training offered to all physicians at the Cleveland Clinic;
  • New business cards with the hospitalists’ pictures on them;
  • A pre-discharge “fly-by” visit from the hospitalist;
  • Post-discharge callbacks to patients; and
  • Joint physician-nurse rounding.

The service now shares its Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey (HCAHPS) satisfaction scores for individual physicians in small groups or one-on-one meetings. The department recognizes high performers. Overall satisfaction scores rose to between 76% and 86%, up from 69% at the start of the project, Dr. Velez says.


  1. Accenture. U.S. among leaders in healthcare IT use and adoption, Accenture eight-country study reports. Accenture website. Available at: Accessed March 29, 2012.

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