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For the first time in several years, I'm not at the Beryl Institute Patient Experience Conference, which concludes today in Dallas, TX.

In case you don't know, the Beryl Institute is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 2006 by Paul Spiegelman, the former CEO of BerylHealth and now Chief Culture Officer of its parent company, Stericycle.

It's mission, quite simply, is to improve the patient experience. Which it does by "elevating, expanding and enriching the global dialogue on improving the patient experience."

Beryl defines the patient experience as: "The sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization's culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care."

Which I think is good. Because interactions between patients and staff are the most important part of the patient experience.

But, the missing link in this definition is the physical environment. It provides the context for interactions and helps to shape culture.

Maybe this is implied in Beryl's definition. Maybe not. And while the leaders at Beryl are aware of the importance of the design of the physical environment, I could only find one presentation at this year's conference that directly addresses it. And it's about the impact of the build environment on care for older adults.

Granted, I'm not at the conference, but from past experience, I'm guessing that no one else in Dallas this week -- except maybe a few exhibitors -- are really talking about this.

Promoting the design of the physical environment is not part of Beryl's core mission.  There are other organizations, like The Center for Health Design and Planetree that do that.

Which is all well and good, but if you truly are going to focus on the patient experience, the design of the physical environment has to be an integral part of the conversation.

So what, besides having more educational sessions on this topic at it's annual conference, could Beryl do to put in this missing link?  Here's a few ideas:

  1. Include healthcare architects/designers on its leadership boards
  2. Publish more articles and white papers on the topic
  3. Partner with The Center for Health Design or Planetree to produce content or an event
  4. Incorporate language about the physical environment into its messaging

It's been a while since I've spoken to the Beryl leaders about this, so maybe they have some initiatives under way.  I hope so, because I'm looking forward to many more great things from this small, but powerful nonprofit.

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Jeffrey Anderzhon

9 years ago

As one of only 2 architects attending the PX2015 conference and, I believe, the only presenter (along with my colleague Andrew Alden) discussing the relationship of the built environment, albeit environments for the elderly, and resident (patient) experience, it is refreshing to read your post. Andrew and I, along with Maggie Calkins had some in-depth discussions with Jason Wolf and Paul Nebenzahl regarding approaches for Beryl to be more inclusive of the FULL continuum of care and how the patient experience transitions across the care continuum as well as across varying care providers. I believe that Beryl is very focused on this inclusion and thus, please be optimistic! Let's continue to push the conversation, both among ourselves and with Beryl. Thanks for your comments.

Sara Marberry

9 years ago

Thanks, Jeffrey. Glad you, Maggie, and Andrew are talking to Jason and Paul, too! Susan Mazer of Healing HealthCare Systems has also been pushing this idea with them (she spoke several years ago about the impact of the environment -- specifically, noise -- on outcomes).

Margaret Fleming

9 years ago

As usual, my blood pressure rises when I read that someone proposes to improve the patient experience without consulting the patients at every step of the way. And then, publishing what the patients decided. Please!

Sara Marberry

9 years ago

Margaret, Beryl does involve patients in its work.

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What's my story? I'm a healthcare and senior living design knowledge expert who writes and speaks frequently about trends and issues affecting these two industries. I'm also a strategic marketing consultant and content creator, working with companies and organizations who want to improve the quality of healthcare and senior living through the design of the physical environment. You can reach me at .

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