Now, she's asking what it's like to be in their shoes.
For hospital inpatients and their families, a little communication goes a long way. That's why UCLA's Institute for Innovation in Health launched "Putting the Patient's Voice into Actions," a contest that funds doctors who want to interview patients, hear their stories and discover better care solutions.
Contest winner Jessica Lloyd, MD — a faculty member in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and associate program director for UCLA's pediatric residency program — took them up on their offer. She's now working alongside Caitlin Beck, executive director of women's and children's services at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA, and a team of pediatric hospitalists, nurses and subspecialists. Together, they're greatly improving bedside rounds.
It takes a village
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), having a child's family in the room is ideal during bedside rounds, and multiple studies have shown these conditions significantly increase parent satisfaction and patient care.
"Family-centered bedside rounds happen every morning," explains Dr. Lloyd. "Each patient is visited by the attending and resident physicians, the bedside nurse and often medical students. The team discusses the patient, gets parent input and decides on that day's plan of care."
This ensures parents are included in the decision-making process, and doctors get up-to-date information from people who spend the most time with children in the hospital — nurses and families. To put a face on this data, Dr. Lloyd's team will be interviewing 10 families about their experiences and their ideas for improvement.
Let the learning begin
Dr. Lloyd's team is already hard at work. After only four interviews, they've identified several opportunities for improved care, communication and patient awareness.
"One surprising finding is how many parents don't know the difference between an attending physician, a fellow and a resident," says Dr. Lloyd, whose team is exploring new ways to educate families about the different roles. "One father said he really likes it when doctors hand him business cards, because he can remember the name with the face. So we're considering that and other options."
Dr. Lloyd's most fascinating interview was with an adolescent patient who speaks English and Spanish, and her mother, who only speaks Spanish. This situation is fairly common at UCLA, and although there's often someone on the medical team who speaks fluent Spanish, that's not always the case. Despite having access to online translation services and interpreters via phone, bilingual children sometimes end up conveying health information to their parents.
"We're looking at how we can prevent that from happening," explains Dr. Lloyd. "We need to be utilizing the existing services more, and we're looking into having a translator do bedside rounds with us."
Turning ideas into action
Patient Voice contest winners can apply for additional funding to explore solutions that come out of the project. Dr. Lloyd says these interviews will also help UCLA train better pediatricians.
"We'll use some of the videos for faculty development and resident teaching," she explains. "There's plenty of data about the importance of family-centered bedside rounding. But to hear families say they want to be included is much more compelling."
Dr. Lloyd has wanted to be a pediatrician since childhood, and this project has made her love her job even more. "To hear my patients say their voices are being heard makes me feel fantastic about the work we're doing — as researchers, and as a children's hospital in general."
By Taylor Mallory Holland