As part of our Leading The Way in Patient Care series featuring UPMC we conducted an interview with Chief Quality Officer Tami Minnier and Senior Director of Patient Experience Amy Ranier. They spoke on the CHRIS model and other ways UPMC is Leading The Way in Patient Care.
Q&A with Tami Minnier and Amy Ranier
Q: How important is process to your approach to patient care?
A: Tami: Every patient care process is designed to deliver the right result. What we know is that there are many processes in healthcare that are broken. My passion to learn about process has been for me to take that knowledge, bring it back into healthcare and patient care situations, and say, “We are not succeeding here because we don’t have the right process.” What is the best process to help that nurse on Saturday night know who to call? Is it to add five minutes to their new employee orientation when they are being barraged by 500 other people with new information? Or is it a simple phone number? All you have to remember is UPMC’s CHRIS Hotline for Patient Needs. What is a more effective design for sustainable, reliable performance?
Sadly, most health care professions have had no training in process. We are critically trained to the high heavens, but when you want to try to help clinicians understand process, some of them are as naive to say, “Well, you just tell people to do it.”
That is the key to our success. You have to have clinical credibility with your audience, but the knowledge of process is critical. If you don’t build a process well in health care, or restaurant management, you are not going to have good outcomes.
Q: What is unique about the way you gather feedback?
A: Amy: We survey at 100 percent of our patients, above and beyond what is required by law, because we want the feedback. We do this because we want to, and we use that feedback as basis for change. Every comment gets read, which includes about 8,000 a month just for physician office visits. We post all of the outpatient physician ratings and comments on UPMC.com.
Q: What is unique about the way employees are held accountable in terms of living these values?
A: Amy: The employees on the frontlines are the ones providing compassionate care, and this shows their work is valid. If someone isn’t living our values, they cannot stay here. We are held to a standard and if you don’t show you live the values, you must change that if you want to stay here
Q: Tami, you are a clinician by background but Amy comes out of marketing. How does Amy’s background in marketing contribute to the success of your efforts?
A: Tami: One of the key things about marketing is that it is fundamentally a communication science. How do you communicate better to convey a feeling and a message? When you think about all of the patient experiences, one of the number one issues is that we need to communicate better. They might say, “People didn’t understand what I was saying.” Amy’s knowledge of that has been amazing because she brings a completely different skillset to the table than our clinicians.
That is probably why our partnership has been so good. I will be talking about something we should do and she plays it back to me through her lens. Before you know it, we have a good clinical concept that has been put through a communications lens to be able to say, “This is how we could use it, this is how it would feel, or maybe we should use this word instead of this one.” She translates it in a way that clinicians can understand, but also in a way that patients can understand.
Q: Who inspires you?
A: Tami: At home, my inspiration has always been my parents or my son. I have a very small family, but my parents were incredible and my mom is still alive and she has my back every day. My son is 15 and he is such a good, good kid. We are very close and I am very blessed to have him.
Q: What keeps you going?
A: Tami: Interacting with patients is what keeps me going—making a difference for patients. I love my team. I would be nothing without the folks who work with me. I have been very blessed to have good colleagues.
Q: What are your passions outside of work?
A: Tami: Today, I still love to read, especially mystery novels. That brings me a lot of joy. I love being outside, so I love to be out walking, digging in the dirt and planting flowers. Anything that is outside and interacting with the environment. Most recently, I have started to bake more, particularly cupcakes. I am working on making the world’s best cupcake.
Q: What is in store for the future?
A: Tami: I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. I have a passion for patients and for making healthcare better, so I am going to keep doing that. I have a deep rooted passion for making things better and resolving problems.
Q: What is your motivation?
A: Amy: A lot of it is entirely the people I work with and the belief that we are working to make things better for patients, employees and the community we serve. Tami is an inspirational leader and there are so many people like that here. My entire focus is, “How do we make things better for our patients?” That’s what gets me here.