The Power of Patient Stories

Cat Mazzawy
Patient Safety Officer, Group Health Cooperative

Stories have the ability to cut through the clutter of everyday detail to connect what we do to our higher purpose. A patient story is a brief message about the patient experience—the safety, quality, and service of the care we provide. Patient stories provide opportunities to learn from and improve a care experience that did not go well and to celebrate care experiences that delighted our patients. If we talk about the patient experience every day, we are more likely to remain focused on it. Here are a few tips for telling a good patient story:

  1. Talk about what you know, such as a personal experience with a patient or as a patient
  2. Use specific detail and names whenever possible
  3. Introduce your story with what the key take away message is
  4. Keep the story short
  5. Conclude your story with reinforcing the key message.

Consider starting any meeting that has an agenda with a patient story!