Medical Staff Pulse Newsletter

Meetings and Events

Grand Rounds

Upcoming CME Conferences


Do you know of a significant event in the life of a medical staff member? Please let us know, and we'll post these milestones in Medical Staff Pulse. Also, feel free to submit comments on milestones, and we'll post the comments in the next issue.

Submit your milestones and comments.

Meetings and Events

Everyday Ethical Issues for Older Adults (Ethics Noon Conference)
Dec. 20

These events and more can be found in the medical staff calendar on the Cedars-Sinai website.

Grand Rounds

Upcoming CME Conferences


Do you know of a significant event in the life of a medical staff member? Please let us know, and we'll post these milestones in Medical Staff Pulse. Also, feel free to submit comments on milestones, and we'll post the comments in the next issue.

Submit your milestones and comments.

Share Your News

Won any awards or had an article accepted for publication? Share your news about professional achievements and other items of interest.

Click here to share your news

Dubovsky Talks Patient Experience at Cedars-Sinai

Alan Dubovsky

Alan Dubovsky, chief patient experience officer

Meet Alan Dubovsky, chief patient experience officer for Cedars-Sinai. Since joining the organization one year ago, Dubovsky has been working diligently to create a strategic plan to sustain a consistently exceptional patient and visitor experience across the Cedars-Sinai Health System.

Pulse recently spoke with Dubovsky about the plan, his role at Cedars-Sinai and a larger vision for world-class patient- and family-centered care.

How would you define the term patient experience?

To dispel any myths, patient experience is not just about scores or data. It is incredibly subjective and very individual. It is misleading to think the patient experience is only about increasing HCAHPS scores or reducing complaints and grievances. It is so much more. It is the journey of a patient and his or her caregivers across the entire continuum of care — an inpatient stay, an outpatient visit, access points, selecting a provider. It's anything and everything in between.

How has the field of patient experience evolved over time? How have you seen it change?

For many years, the field of patient experience was very unsophisticated. We knew what we wanted outcomes to be, but we couldn't articulate the how or why behind it. We weren't able to link all the critical touch points that comprise the patient experience. We didn't understand that if you improve a patient's experience, you simultaneously improve access, throughput and clinical efficiency.

The field of patient experience started as service recovery. It was the only way we measured success. Are we seeing fewer complaints? Are we responding to them quickly enough? And that is still an important piece of what we do. But we also are focused on the future. At Cedars-Sinai, we are as keenly focused on responding to the needs of today's patients as we are on anticipating the needs of tomorrow's patients.

What have some of your initial observations been about the patient experience here at Cedars-Sinai?

Of all the places I've ever worked, Cedars-Sinai absolutely has its heart in the right place. We want to do right by our patients, and our mission is strong. We have committed staff who are proud and enthusiastic about the work they do. That helps to drive our scores. But there are always opportunities for improvement.

Our biggest opportunity is around optimizing resources and streamlining services to ensure a consistently excellent patient experience. We can start by enhancing the voice of our patients. We need to be sure we're listening to them, asking them for their opinions and using that data intentionally. We also need to support our staff by giving them the tools and resources they need to not only provide outstanding care, but also to be outstanding at the patient experience.

What are the major factors driving Cedars-Sinai toward improving the patient experience?

I think we understand that, as an organization, we are not perfect. We do amazing work, but we can always do better and do more for our patients. So we are doing what we can to reshape our dedication to the patient experience. We are doing what Cedars-Sinai does best — finding new and better ways to show our commitment to our patients.

What are the top three things you would like Cedars-Sinai to invest in to advance your work surrounding the patient experience?

First and foremost, we need the support and commitment of our leadership, which we wholeheartedly have. I can't tell you how many organizations call out patient experience as a priority on paper, but let it fall to the wayside in practice. Improving the patient experience is not merely an option here. It is a part of what we are here to do, and it's critical to our mission.

Secondly, we need to involve our patients more in our work, bringing them into planning and discussions. Our patients should be guiding us along this journey to provide a world-class experience for them.

Thirdly, capturing and honoring patient preferences will be critically important to our work. In a perfect world, a patient should be able to choose how they want to receive their care. That could mean an office visit one day, an electronic consultation via the computer the next day, online appointment scheduling, etc. We need to respect those preferences and continue to build our services to match them.

What are the next steps for you and your team over the next few months?

We're at an exciting point where we are rolling out a number of projects related to our strategic plan through our Improving Patient Experience (IPE) Committees, chaired by Linda Burnes Bolton, DrPH, RN, FANN, health system chief nursing executive and senior vice president for Nursing; and Bryan Croft, senior vice president of Operations. We've already made progress in a number of areas. For example, shortening our patient satisfaction survey has yielded more meaningful, quicker results. We're working on comprehensive patient feedback reports that track patient comments, discharge calls, complaints and other metrics in real time.

And we're working towards many other critical improvements: refining the post-discharge process; examining our Patient and Family Advisory programs; standardizing patient rounding across all areas; closely monitoring patient feedback on social media; developing new patient experience trainings; redesigning New Employee Orientation and the list goes on. We're really looking at how we can incorporate the patient experience into everything we do.

What is the relationship between the patient experience and employee engagement?

There is a direct correlation between the two. It is impossible to improve the patient experience without getting the support of motivated, strong-willed, determined employees. In healthcare, our jobs are often busy, exhausting and emotionally draining. But if you feel you are making an impact, that drives you to do better. It's so important for our employees to feel empowered and to work well together in teams.

I'm very lucky in that I have a great partner in Andy Ortiz, senior vice president of Human Resources and Organization Development. He understands the culture shift we are trying to achieve, and we are working closely together to ensure the patient experience is incorporated into Human Resources-related processes such as New Employee Orientation, staff education and training, and the recruiting process. We shouldn't only be hiring based on skill, but also based on an employee's desire to do amazing work for our patients.

How do you encourage employees to get involved in this effort to change the focus and culture of our organization?

I encourage every staff member to understand our organizational goals and how we plan to work towards them. Incorporating the patient experience in your daily work is as easy as listening — listening to the patients and families we serve. Whether you're a bedside nurse, transporter or a valet attendant, you are hearing and seeing things every day. It's important to listen, respond and then share your observations with your leaders. If there's a specific project or effort you want to be involved in, let us know.                                                   

How can administrative/support staff contribute to the patient experience?

Part of my job is to ensure that every single employee, clinical or administrative, understands what the patient experience is. We all interact with patients at some point — Food and Nutrition Services employees delivering meals to a room, Environmental Services workers keeping our facilities clean, financial counselors talking to patients on the phone about a bill, even an Enterprise Information Services employee holding an elevator door open for a patient. We all play an important role in shaping a patient's perception of our organization solely through the quality of our interactions.

Do you plan to incorporate patient experience initiatives across the health system?

At this point in time, our goals and initiatives are focused on the medical center, our faculty practices and Marina Del Rey Hospital. The Medical Network, under Executive Vice President John Jenrette's leadership, has a concurrent patient experience action plan underway. We're on a parallel journey and in close contact to ensure we are achieving similar goals.

We know the patient experience has to be streamlined across all sites within the Cedars-Sinai Health System. When patients hear the Cedars-Sinai name, they need to expect a certain level of service regardless of where they are. The experience needs to be equally stellar no matter where our patients visit us.