Skip to main content

Michigan Medicine

A Minute with Marschall

Linking the Patient and Employee Experience Together

April 27th, 2022

This week  we celebrate Patient Experience Week, which gives us the opportunity to consider how closely connected the employee and patient experience are to each other.

Patient Experience is defined as the sum of all interaction that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care. Therefore, the patient should always be at the center of every decision we make. ​Employee engagement is equally important at Michigan Medicine, where we strive for an environment where employees feel supported by their teams, understand the value they bring to their work and are proud to be connected to our organization.

Although we list Patient and Family Centered Care and Positive and Engaged Faculty and Staff, as two separate strategic initiatives,   in reality they are indelibly linked to one another. You cannot impact one, without having an influence on the other. And many would argue, and I agree, that a positive and engaged staff serves as the best foundation for a safe, high-quality patient experience.

The health care industry’s focus on the patient experience has existed for decades, but we don’t always recognize its close relationship to employee engagement, even though research indicates that engaged health care workers improve patient experience and, in turn, positive patient experiences reduce length of stay, improve clinical outcomes and reduce readmissions.  

Simply put, when care teams show high levels of engagement and resilience, their patients do well.

But we don’t need national research to tell us this. My colleagues tell me stories of these connections every day. I’m sure many of you see them more directly in your day-to-day work.

These experiences can be very subtle, yet powerful. Someone recently shared this simple example of how employee engagement and patient satisfaction can intertwine with each other:

The medical assistants’ (MAs) office at a surgical clinic was located at the very back of the building. This added unnecessary steps when getting patients settled into their rooms, and also reduced the amount of interpersonal connection they had with their patients – an important interaction within the total patient experience. When the MAs brought this up at a rounding session with their leader, the team brainstormed a new option and located the office close to the reception area. Welcoming a patient now takes an MA in this facility only four steps – resulting in less wait time for patients and a better working experience for our MAs.  

During Patient Experience Week, and throughout the year, I encourage you to think about how you can become more engaged in your work, while impacting positive experiences for our patients and families. The Office of Patient Experience has resources and tools to support this work. Check out the Patient Resources Hub  for more about the patient experience. If you need more support, reach out to our patient and family advisors through the Office of Patient Experience Website.  

How do you and your team support the patient experience and employee engagement? Share your story in the discussion box below. 


  • Nothing in the world can feel more rewarding than helping a suffering patient and improving his/her experience and healing process.

    Our patients can be hospitalized for various reasons such as serious illness, an accident, or recovering from a surgery. No matter the reason, they feel more than just the physical symptoms. Patients feel fear, uncertainty, sadness, confusion, anxiety and loneliness. In addition, a patient who feels isolated, dismissed, or unheard will be less likely to engage with their care plan.

    Empathizing with suffering patients, providing compassionate care and connecting with them gives them hope. Simple gestures such as smiling, acknowledging their concerns and seeing the encounter through the eyes of the patient can reduce their anxiety, create connections and help them feel safe and empowered with managing their recovery plan, which contributes to improving their overall experience and patient care.

    I believe patient care, ultimately, comes from the heart and everyone who contributes to improving patient care is a hero. Some people travel thousands of miles away from a world that cares about wealth and power to search for a meaningful role in life, to feel sense of purpose and belonging and be a part of a community who shares the same mission, vision and values. We must recognize that the patient is the most important person in a medical care system. Therefore, we must continue to work hard on providing the best care possible to our patients, reduce healthcare gaps and improve their experience, engagement and satisfaction every single day. It is a lifetime commitment!

    • Marschall Runge

      Well said, Lamia. I couldn’t agree with you more. Showing empathy and caring are important to building a supportive community and a strong patient experience. Together we all play a role in building that sense of belonging. Thank you for all you do to support the care of our patients.

  • Melissa Cunningham

    Thank you, Dr. Runge, for recognizing this important connection! We have nearly 500 patient, family advisors who partner with our staff and faculty to improve patient experiences. The staff who utilize our advisors and peer mentors, incorporating them onto our teams, are true Patient and Family Centered Care Champions, in my book. I’m grateful for the way they listen and partner with our volunteers. I often hear from our staff that the work they do with OPE advisors helps keep them inspired and motivated, in return. This impact is only possible with the support of leaders, like you, who recognize the positive results achieved from these collaborations. Go Blue!

    • Marschall Runge

      Thank you for your comments, Melissa. I agree that the support and feedback that the advisors provide, as well as all the staff within the Office of Patient Experience, have a tremendous positive impact on our ability to provide world class care to our patients and their families. Keep up the great work!

Comments are closed.