Adventist Health System's patient-centered rebrand includes culture change focused on safety, love

As Adventist Health System embarked on a rebrand that aimed to highlight its mission, the system also launched a new training program to spark an internal change, too. 

Promoting a more patient-centered image focused in Adventist’s—not Adventist—now AdventHealth—is part of what inspired the rebrand overall, CEO Terry Shaw told FierceHealthcare.

So AdventHealth launched what it called the Whole Experience Training program around four central concepts: “keep me safe,” “love me,” “make it simple” and “own the problem.” 

These four principles are things the system hopes its staff builds into their daily work, Shaw said.

“That cultural training is making a huge difference in how we view each other,” he said. 

RELATED: 3 tips for healthcare to drive a culture of performance development 

More than 60,000 employees across Florida-based Adventist’s 45 hospitals have undergone the training so far, Pam Guler, vice president and chief experience officer, told FierceHealthcare. It took the system eight months of build up before launching the training to bring its team under the same “cultural framework,” she said. 

The training is a four-hour session that brings staffers from across departments together to share their perspective on Adventist at present and where it could go in the future. Guler said that teams of nine people—chosen at random—and a facilitator work together. 

The random teams, she said, is the most “powerful” part of the experience since it united people who may have little to no understanding of how their respective jobs work. Physicians, for example, were particularly struck by this, as they had cooks or administrative workers telling them that their clinical practice serves as an inspiration, Guler said. 

“It created this cultural excitement,” she said. 

RELATED: Adventist Health’s trigger tool uncovers thousands of additional harm occurrences 

Shaw said he was initially skeptical when he sat down for the training the first time. He didn’t know any of his teammates, he said, and saw four hours of lost time. But hearing more from workers he doesn’t interact with often directly was moving, he said. 

“Once I sat down and went through it, I thought, ‘Okay, this is going to make a huge difference in how our employees behave,’” Shaw said. 

Bringing all the staff members, regardless of department, into the discussion was crucial because customer service doesn’t begin or end with simply clinicians, Guler said. 

The next step, Guler said, is to make sure that the training makes a lasting impact. Managers at Adventist Health—anyone with at least one direct report—go through a second three-hour training session to discuss ways to support their team members as they navigate the cultural change. 

RELATED: America’s Essential Hospitals launches research project to identify ‘dimensions’ of patient trust 

Another way the system is spinning the training forward is by providing personalized badge pulls to each staffer who completes the program, Guler said. These heart-shaped pins read, “I care for you like my...” so that each person can customize it, she said, and they serve as a useful reminder of why the principles outlined in the training are central to Adventist’s mission. 

In addition, Adventist is planning to launch an app this fall to keep the conversation going, she said. The tool will allow team members to spotlight when they or their colleagues have deployed the system’s service standards in unique ways. 

Early surveying shows that patients are seeing the shift as well and are responding positively, Guler said. Even just the new badges, she said, have drawn interest from patients who recognize the personal touch. 

“It creates a personal connection,” Guler said. “There’s nothing more important to the experience of our consumers than that connection and really knowing that we care.”