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November 25, 2019

The 4 lessons AdventHealth CEO Terry Shaw learned from his wife's car crash

Daily Briefing
    Editor's note: This popular story from the Daily Briefing's archives was republished on August 30, 2021.

    When AdventHealth CEO Terry Shaw's wife was hospitalized following a car accident, he was frustrated at how difficult the process was to navigate, and that led him to implement four major changes at his own health system, Shaw writes on LinkedIn.

    7 tools for implementing a holistic patient experience strategy

    An epiphany following the accident

    "After 29 years of marriage, the last words I wanted to hear as a husband were, 'Your wife has been in a car accident. She's unconscious in the ER,'" Shaw recalls. "But perhaps even more unexpected was how difficult it was for someone who has spent three decades in health care and who runs a multi-billion-dollar health system to navigate her care."

    Shaw writes that the first problem he encountered was finding his wife at the hospital. He had difficulty finding parking and had to wait in a long entry processing line before finally making it up to her room feeling "both scared and aggravated."

    That's when a nurse stopped him before he entered his wife's room, Shaw recalls. The nurse told me, "Look Mr. Shaw, your wife has been through an awful lot today, and she can't see you the way you are now." She then helped him calm down and prepare to see his wife.

    This gesture "truly touched my heart and helped me re-center before seeing my wife," Shaw writes.

    Shaw's wife was taken to and treated at a hospital outside of AdventHealth's system. But Shaw's experience prompted him to re-examine how his health system approaches patient care: "We need to be caring for the whole patient, not just tending to their most immediate medical issue," according to Shaw.

    The 4 changes Shaw made to his health system

    Shaw writes that following his wife's accident, he implemented four tenets of what he calls "wholistic patient care" for AdventHealth.

    1. "Keep me safe": Shaw writes that for most people, hospitals can be foreign and scary, and it's the job of providers to "make patients and their loved ones feel safe and secure in our care." Shaw writes that he showed up to the ED to see his wife "panicked and distraught," and needed the nurse who spoke to him to make him feel safe.

    2. "Love me": Shaw writes that "love is an important part of the health care journey." When his wife arrived in the ED, Shaw writes that she was "at her most vulnerable and helpless and she was desperately in need of unconditional love." That's why Shaw wants every patient that comes to an AdventHealth hospital to know that "[n]o matter their circumstances or background, we are going to love them."

    3. "Make it easy": After his experience following his wife's accident, Shaw writes that he learned "how hard we, as a health care industry, have actually made it for our 'consumers.'" Health care professionals "can be really bad at making the patient journey easy," Shaw writes. Instead, the process needs to be simplified so "more people are willing to come to us for care instead of feeling afraid or avoiding seeking care."

    4. "Own the problem": Shaw writes that the issues faced by him and his wife were not uniquely reflective of the hospital his wife was treated, but rather "indicative of a much larger, farther reaching industry problem." Shaw writes that one of his biggest pet peeves is hearing anyone at Advent say, "That's not my job," because "it's everybody's job. I don't care who you are, including me."

    All AdventHealth hospitals now require "wholistic" care training including the four tenets Shaw outlined, he writes. The goal is to educate staff on how to connect their patients with a variety of different resources. The reason: "Because I don't want anyone to experience what I did when my wife was in the hospital, and as a health system CEO I have the ability to change it," Shaw concludes (Shaw, LinkedIn, 11/14).

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