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Jason Everman, DO, a family physician in a group of 11 providers, describes his experience with appreciative inquiry.
“Our primary care practice is undergoing significant change as we transition to becoming a patient-centered medical home (PCMH). The stress and turmoil of this change could have had a negative effect on morale and communication. However, in my role as a physician leader, I've seen just the opposite. Because we used appreciative inquiry as we pursued this strategic improvement aim, the atmosphere in our practice has actually become more positive. We have used appreciative check-ins when we begin our staff meetings, appreciative debriefs when we conclude them, and appreciative interviewing as we conducted our strategic planning for the year.
“The changes in the practice have been noticeable. I've seen more human touches in our clinic over the last few months than previously, including heartfelt laughter among patients and staff while handling disease and life changes, smiles and kindness even during the most tense (sic) of times, side conversations focused on raising the bar for our approach to patient care, questions of why we function in certain ways and if it can be improved and innovation in clinic-patient communication to raise satisfaction for every patient at every visit.
“During one appreciative inquiry exercise, it became apparent that some of the practice staff had the internal drive for improvement. These staff members displayed a readiness to put the patient first, [a readiness] that had been waiting in the shadows. Since that exercise, I have come to really appreciate the power of humanism to change the culture of a health care organization—and to help us effectively implement improvement projects. I've been truly inspired by my co-workers' focus, motivation and personal commitment during this process. Appreciative inquiry gave us the positive atmosphere we needed to move ahead with the changes involved in becoming a PCMH. It helped us grow together and provide even better care to our patients.”
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