Celebrating Patient Experience Week
Published on 4/26/2021

Patient Experience Week is an annual celebration of health care staff who impact patient experience every day.

The Office of the Patient Experience (OPE) is proud to support our patients and colleagues across UI Health Care in the many roles our team members represent. During Patient Experience Week, we will introduce each aspect of our department that helps elevate the patient experience by making a positive impact on our patients and helping to support our colleagues who take amazing care of them every day.

Getting to Know OPE

Patient Education Program

About us

Our patient educators are responsible for developing and coordinating activities for the Patient Education Program related to increasing patient accessibility and understanding, health literacy, and plain language communication within UI Health Care.  The team consists of two educators, Janelle Hansen and E. Adriana McMullan who have worked to develop the Patient Education Program since January 2016.

How we support our patients and colleagues

Our patient educators have produced over 390 educational materials in the last 9 months which have contributed to improving health literacy and the patient experience. In addition to increasing patient understanding which has the potential to drive positive health outcomes, our materials also keep us compliant with Joint Commission, CMS, Press Ganey and Magnet requirements for patients.

Plain language materials, such as handouts and videos, lead to:

  • Clear, meaningful messages so there are less interruptions or callbacks from patients.
    • Patients forget 80% of what their doctor tells them after their appointment, and 50% of what they remember is incorrect.
  • Fewer missed appointments or missed referrals for tests.
    • Nine out of 10 adults have trouble understanding unfamiliar medical vocabulary and concepts.
    • People may not know why appointments are important or may forget to ask questions to better care for themselves at home.
  • Increased patient satisfaction and decreased health care costs, such as lower readmission rates.
    • There are questions on HCAHPS and Press Ganey surveys about explanation and education.
    • For example, UI Health Care inpatient adult surveys show their understanding of side effects are in the 46% top box (FY2021 to date). We have worked with departments to improve their scores through plain language handouts and checklists tailored to these goals.

We are here to help with education materials for patients or staff

  • Plain language review of projects, including video scripts, consent forms, handouts, and web content.
  • Assisting with finding images, securing copyright use, and creating materials to fit your workflow.
  • Finding patient education vendors that meet your needs (print or video).

Highlights from this past year (FY21)

  • Developed new patient education video process for accessible and affordable videos.
  • Created a low vision resource guide
  • Implemented a process with the hospital librarian to offer documents on flash drives.
  • Developed recommendations for getting low vision patient resources through electronic avenues
  • Presented “Pearls of Wisdom When Providing Patient Education” – 2021 Orthopedic Nursing Conference

Looking forward – Plans for the upcoming year (FY22)

  • Offering training opportunities to learn about resources available for use with patients
  • Developing an interdisciplinary Patient Education Committee to coordinate efforts for UI Health Care
  • Launching a staff survey regarding patient education needs and usage of current resources

Contact us

You can enter a Project Request Form on our Patient Education SharePoint site or email us at janelle-hansen@uiowa.edu and elspeth-mcmullan@uiowa.edu.

Meet the team

Janelle Hansen and Adriana McMullan

Patient Experience Coaching Program

About us

The Patient Experience Coaching Program is dedicated to providing tools, resources, and feedback to UI Health Care staff to enhance the overall patient experience and staff engagement. The team accomplishes this by training staff on ways to engage in empathy and compassion to alleviate anxiety and emotional suffering, how to effectively communicate with patients in a clinical setting, and how to build upon our patient-centered culture. We help leadership sustain these trainings by providing observation and feedback on how staff are incorporating these different tools and behaviors into their patient interactions.

How we support our patients and colleagues

  • Compassionate, Connected Care (C3) – Inpatient:
    • C3 training describes compassionate, connected care and what it means to the patient. This training delivers specific communication skills that help our peers understand how they can elevate the patient experience as it relates to delivering care with empathy, compassion, teamwork, and clear communication.
  • Compassionate, Connected Care (C3) – Ambulatory:
    • We are excited to expand our C3 programming to the clinic setting summer 2021.
    • To do this, we have rebuilt C3 training from the ground up to fit the unique needs of our ambulatory teams.
  • Excellence Every Time:
    • Traditionally an event held twice a year which focuses on safety, quality, and connection, and how those concepts work together to build a truly patient-centered culture.
    • All UI Health Care staff are invited to attend
    • Presenters include UI Health Care staff, leaders, and patients.
    • COVID-19 has impacted the event’s format and feasibility—we are evaluating what the future of the event should look like and hope to share details in the near future.
  • Patient Family Advisory Board (PFAB):
    • We seek and engage with highly motivated patients and family members.
    • Members are tasked with giving the patient and family perspective on how to solve various issues around UI Health Care’s hospital and clinics, as well as give valuable feedback on projects.
    • Apply today or share this link with a patient or family member.
  • Provider Communication Program:
    • Program designed to help providers save time, organize their visit, build rapport, and maximize patient understanding of the care plan.
    • All participants receive observations and feedback from a Patient Experience Coach at 30- and 60-day post workshop intervals to maximize retention of the evidence-based skills learned.
    • Register today!

Highlights from this past year (FY21)

  • Compassionate, Connected Care (C3) Inpatient:
    • As of April 1—more than 3,000 UI Health Care staff trained
    • Partnered with our Safety and Security Office to train all new Safety Ambassadors on the importance of empathy, compassion, and setting expectations with our patients.
    • Leveraged in-unit staff “Champions” to build unit culture of compassion and empathy
  • Compassionate, Connected Care (C3) Ambulatory:
    • To our knowledge, this comprehensive training program will make UI Health Care the first in the nation to take C3 core concepts to ambulatory teams.
  • Patient Family Advisory Board (PFAB):
    • 25 members including patient, families, and UI Health Care leaders
    • Members participated in hospital work groups, including College of Public Health capstone classes, website redesign work groups, and groups focused on new facility planning/design.
  • Provider Communication Program:
    • As of April 2021—more than 600 UI Health Care providers trained
    • More than 90% of providers would recommend this program to a peer or colleague
    • 95% of providers report feeling more confident incorporating skills after their coaching sessions
    • Presented at the International Communication in Health Care Conference – Spring 2021
  • COVID-19 Wellness and Resiliency Team:
    • Helped launch the “Pay it Forward” recognition program
    • Helped distribute over $100,000 worth of in-kind donations to staff
    • Co-led production of online Wellness Forums on addressing staff needs during pandemic

Meet the team

Left to right: Kip Pedersen, Niko Iben, Tera Kringle

Left to right: Abbi LaBarge, Josh Paxton, Sam Perkins

Patient Relations

About us

Our Patient Relation Specialists help address patient and visitor concerns related to care. We act as a liaison between UI Health Care providers, staff, and patients, assuming the role of a neutral party to facilitate communication and resolution.  Our goal is to support both our patients and colleagues so we can ultimately help build a positive relationship between patient and care team by resolving any concerns in a timely and satisfactory manner for all parties.

Our specialists also offer proactive consultations to staff and providers in order to help determine what the best course of action may be regarding potentially challenging situations they anticipate.

How we support patients and colleagues

Our team supports UI Health Care staff by providing a collaborative atmosphere in which to work through care concerns and questions. We help relay key information to patients and other stakeholders that helps them obtain answers and closure to their concerns.  The concerns we receive are typically represented by one of two categories: Complaints or grievances.

Understanding complaints vs. grievances

What is a complaint?

  • A complaint is a concern expressed by a patient or a patient’s family representative regarding dissatisfaction with care or service at UI Health Care.
  • If immediately resolved by staff present to the patient’s satisfaction, no further follow-up is needed.

What is a grievance?

Any patient care issue that:

  • Is not promptly resolved by staff present
  • Is communicated in writing (letter/email, etc.)
  • Requests to be filed formally
  • Requests a written response
  • Includes a complaint that involves Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) conditions of participation
  • Includes concerns related to patient abuse, neglect, or harm
  • Includes Medicare beneficiary complaints, rights and limitations, and billing issues
  • Grievances require a formal written response from UI Health Care.

We are here to support our patients and staff

  • Involving providers and care staff in care related concerns, assisting with communication to patients
  • Providing service recovery binders to all inpatient units and outpatient clinics
  • Assisting patients in proving resolution to care and communication concerns with their providers

Highlights from this past year (FY21)

  • Patient Representatives team grew by one full-time employee
  • Provide orientation to UI Health Care’s new providers
  • More than 3,300 cases processed (year-to-date)
  • Completed around 150 consultations with staff

Looking forward – Plans for the upcoming year (FY22)

  • Develop education materials for use in our inpatient and outpatient units about our services
  • Increase our visibility as a resource throughout UI Health Care via opportunities to share with colleagues

Contact us

Meet the team

Left to right: Kathy Courtois, Mairin Burke, Abby Dickson

Left to right: Julie Lensing, Brittany Marks, Carol McEleney

Guest Services

About us

Guest Services is a dedicated team of nearly 170 full- and part-time staff, students, and volunteers who support a myriad of programs that enhance the patient experience and help the hospital run more efficiently.

How we support patients and our colleagues at UI Health Care

  • Patient escort/Transport
    • Transporting patients and visitors via wheelchair, bed, or PAT Mobile to and from units, clinics, procedure areas, and services.
    • Wheelchair delivery & recovery
    • Deliver patient belongings (due to visitor restrictions)
  • Information Desks
    • Main Entrance
    • UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital Entrance
    • Pomerantz Family Pavilion (PFP) Level 1
    • PFP Level 2, Ramp 4 skyway entrance
    • John Pappajohn Pavilion Level 1
      • Assist with screening patients and visitors
      • Verify patient location
      • Promote hospital services
      • Specimen and research organ repository
      • Lost and found
      • Visitor parking pass sales
  • Discharge Lounge
    • Pilot program in collaboration with the Department of Nursing to support hospital throughput.
  • Concierge Services
    • Main Entrance, Roy Carver Pavilion
    • Main Entrance, UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital
      • Promote hospital services
      • In-kind donations
      • Use of public space
      • Notary services (for patients and visitors)
      • Informational and wayfinding brochures & maps
  • Centralized Equipment Distribution (CED)
    •  Beds/Carts/Cots/Cribs
    • IV Pumps
    •  Fans
    • Wheelchair Maintenance and Repair
  • Valet Parking
    • Closed temporarily; evaluating resuming as early as June 2021.
  • Rossi Guest House Lodging Program
    • Off-site hotel accommodations for families of inpatients
    • Hospital Clothing Closet
  • Evening Staff Shuttle Service
    • Transporting staff to/from hospital commuter parking lots via shuttle van, 6:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Highlights from this past year (FY21)

  • Patient Escorts have transported over 98,000 patients and visitors. That’s an average of over 520 per day. Visitor restrictions have resulted in a 97% increase in transports.
  • Information Desk staff has had a vital, front-line role in pandemic-related screening, in addition to their everyday operations and responsibilities.
  • Guest Services is collaborating with the Department of Nursing and Hospital Administration to improve throughput by staffing a new Discharge Lounge.
    • 113 discharged patients have been accommodated since late January with an average patient satisfaction score of 4.93 out of 5
  • Concierge Services led the hospital’s coordination of PPE and in-kind donations for health care workers, with nearly 98,000 PPE items and over $112,000 in donations distributed to essential workers since March 2020.
  • 505 documents were notarized for patients by Concierge Services staff.
  • Our Central Equipment Distribution team has completed 8,360 work orders.
  • The Rossi Guest House Lodging Program has accommodated 533 families since July 1, 2020.
  • To better accommodate staff, the Evening Staff Shuttle Service adjusted to hub out of the West Campus Transportation Center: 6:30 to 11 p.m.

Looking forward – Plans for the upcoming year (FY22)

  • Resuming valet operations as soon as feasible to increase patient access.
  • Optimizing Discharge Lounge operations in a permanent location.
  • Leveraging technology to improve the efficiency of the Patient Escort/Transport Program.

Contact us

Contact Guest Services at 319-356-2158.

Meet the team

Left to right: Robin Hennes, Steven Anderson, Jennifer Von Behren-Carey

Left to right: Sheri Austin, Twila Barnes

Left to right: Mike Andrew, Paul Sanders, Vesta Rodby, Josh Vanden Berg, Doug Krutsinger | This photo was taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spiritual Services

About us

Our professionally trained chaplains help patients, families, and staff cope with distress from illness, injury and unanticipated life events. Chaplains respectfully support people within the context of their own beliefs, values, and situations. You do not need to be religious or spiritual to seek help from a chaplain. Our services have been available for patients, families and staff for over half a century here at UI Health Care.

How we support our patients and colleagues at UI Health Care

Whether you are a patient or family member, a health crisis can be emotionally and physically overwhelming. At times, people experience trouble focusing or making decisions. What were once sources of strength may now seem out of reach. Our chaplains are professionally trained to help patients, families, and staff cope with distress from illness, injury, and unanticipated life events.

A chaplain can provide:

  • Listening and supportive conversation
  • Understanding of the emotional and spiritual distress of illness and how it affects you and your relationships
  • Help with discovering sources of comfort and meaning for you in coping with the stress of illness
  • Prayer or meditations for relaxation and centering
  • Rituals and spiritual practices important to you
  • A bridge to your faith community, and to your clergy or spiritual leader
  • Support for you and your family in making health care choices
  • Support in facing death, or losses and life changes due to illness
  • Support for families in their grief when a loved one is dying and after

We are here to help our patients and staff have successful and meaningful encounters

  • Chaplains are available for patients, families, and staff:
    • In person with one of our in-house chaplains: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day
    • On call for emergencies: 24/7
    • More information about Spiritual Services, resources, and events are available on the Spiritual Services SharePoint site

Highlights from this past year (FY21)

  • Spiritual Services quickly transitioned many of the worship and meditation opportunities to a virtual format so patients, families, and staff could continue to connect with that which keeps them grounded in times of uncertainty.
  • The COPE Team responded and provided peer support to nearly 500 UI Health Care staff during the last year.
  • Most of all, our chaplains continue to provide around-the-clock support for our patients and families in their greatest time of need.

Looking forward – Plans for the upcoming year (FY22)

  • Develop additional and expand educational and worship opportunities both within UI Health Care and the surrounding community. This will increase our reach to patients and promote our services to a larger audience.
  • The COPE Team is continuing to train peer supporters throughout UI Health Care with the goal of having trained peer supporters on every unit for every shift.

Contact us

  • Call (319)-356-2248
  • You can page us at:
    • Interfaith Chaplain pager: 3437
    • Catholic Chaplain pager: 3589
Interpreting and Translation Services

About us

Our interpreters and translators are responsible for assisting our non-English and limited-English speaking patients and families with communication between them and their health care teams. Our team consists of five full-time Spanish interpreters, a full-time French interpreter, and a part-time Arabic interpreter. This core team is assisted by additional hourly staff for various additional languages; we call this group our “Language Bank.” We are proud to share that our services have been available for patients, families, and staff for over 45 years.

How we support our patients and colleagues at UI Health Care

Our qualified interpreters have assisted countless patients and staff with communication during medical encounters. Our main role is to ensure all communication between care teams and patients is accurately interpreted into the patient’s preferred language. Having qualified interpreters available for patients and families has been shown to increase the potential for positive health outcomes for patients and ultimately improve the patient experience.

In addition to increasing patient understanding of their health, our interpreters assist patients in all aspects of their care including: scheduling appointments, obtaining answers to questions or concerns about medicines/treatments, and supporting them during clinic visits, inpatient stays, surgeries, and more.

Besides in-person and telephone interpreting services, our team also provides written translations for patients and families so they have materials they can refer to in their preferred language.

Proper use of interpreting services can lead to:

  • Improved outcomes for patients when they have assistance to communicate in their native language
    • Patients understand their care needs better which reduces phone calls and increases chances of success associated with following their plan of care.
  • Better patient experiences
    • By using interpreters, clinicians can provide safer and more effective care, resulting in patients feeling cared for in a way that is equitable, regardless of their language preference.
    • Patients trust their care teams more when interpreters are used; they truly feel like a part of the care team because we allow them to express themselves in a manner they wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

We are here to help our patients and staff have successful and meaningful encounters

  • Live interpreters: with one of our in-house or hourly interpreters.
  • Virtual interpreters: telephone or video platforms (such as Vidyo, MyChart Vidyo, Zoom, etc.) using one of our in-house staff, when available.
  • Cyracom/CLI Services: language interpreting services used by UI Health Care whenever live interpreters are not available. Cyracom/CLI interpreters are not part of UI Health Care.
    • Cyracom services are available over telephone or video.
    • You can access Cyracom directly on Voalte phones as well using the Cyracom app. Cyracom services on Voalte phones are limited to telephone interpreting (no video access with Voaltes).

Highlights from this past year (FY21)

  • Translated various informational materials regarding COVID-19 precautions and updates into various languages, which helped keep non-English speaking patients informed and safe.
  • Worked with the UI Carver College of Medicine to provide webinars about working with interpreters virtually in the middle of a health pandemic.
  • Provided representation for various annual conferences such as the Nursing and Pediatric Palliative Care Conferences, which resulted in increased representation and a voice for our non-English speaking patients.

Looking forward – Plans for the upcoming year (FY22)

  • Develop additional educational materials about interpreting services to promote the program for patients and staff to better understand how we can help them.
  • Consider an evaluation/feedback process for patients and families so our team can continue to improve the services we provide.

Contact us

  • Interpreting Services are available all day (24/7) on pager 4225.
  • You may call the main interpreting services office at (319) 356-1967 to ask for an interpreter.
  • For written translation requests: email translationservice@healthcare.uiowa.edu.
  • For patient education materials: submit a request form to the Patient Education Program first. This is to make sure it is in the correct template for patients before it is sent to translation.

How to use Cyracom

  • Cyracom on voalte:
    • Click on Cyracom app. It automatically logs in.
    • Select or search for the language needed
    • Click on video (if available) or phone interpretation
  • Cyracom for outbound calls:
    • Dial 0 to connect to hospital operator
    • Ask to connect to Cyracom for the language you need. The operator can assist in connecting you to a Cyracom interpreter so that you can place a call to patient or family.
    • OR: Page Interpreting Services at 4225 to request the direct number for Cyracom
      • You will need the account number and pin number as well.