Transforming Patients into People: Personalize Their Hospital Rooms to Personalize Their Care

Being admitted to the hospital is often an unsettling, de-personalizing experience. Clothes are replaced with a hospital gown, a barcoded wristband serves as your ID, and everyone seems to ask for name and birthdate. Countless people enter and exit the room (the national average is approximately 5.5 per hour). Jargon filled conversations swirl around patients and families rather than with them, and the computer monitors in the room seem to get most of the attention.

Along with the depersonalization can come a sense of disconnect and loneliness. A hospital inpatient once told me that he had never felt so alone while surrounded by so many people.

At Well O Gram, we help personalize hospital rooms and transform patients into people. We believe that photos are a simple and effective way to tell patient stories. Family or friends simply upload a favorite photo of their hospitalized loved one. We enlarge the image to just the right size, then print and deliver it in an easy to display format right to the hospital.

The exciting part starts once the Well O Gram is displayed in the room. Doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff pause from their routines and comment on the image. Those conversations create empathetic connections that begin to change the relationship between patients and providers as they get to know each other.

Knowing the person matters as Hippocrates wrote over 3,000 years ago, “It is far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has.” Notice that the Hippocrates refers to the individual as a “person” rather than a patient.

Patient and family comments reveal benefits of having a Well O Gram in the room:

  • “We just wanted to let you know that many of the caregivers at the hospital and family members really enjoyed the photos. They all created conversations about my dad. Thanks again!”
  • “It was great to get to know my doctors and nurses, and to talk about something other than my disease.”
  • “I wasn’t feeling very well, and it was comforting and wonderful to look up and see my picture in the room.”

Doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff may benefit, as well.  Unfortunately, burnout among doctors and nurses is a national crisis. Research has shown that “greater empathy not only improves patient satisfaction but also helps reduce physician burnout and improve physician job satisfaction.” (1) Hospital staff including housekeeping, meal services, and transport often have a few extra moments to talk to patients, and report enjoying those conversations.

Sending a Well O Gram is a great way to show you care and to personalize a loved one’s hospital room. Doing so will help transform them from a patient into a person, improve their patient experience, and possibly help reduce physician burnout.

We hope that your friends and loved ones never end up in the hospital, but if they do, we’re here to help.

Brent Schmaling

(1) More Empathy Means Better Care, Less Medical Liability. Helen Riess, MD, Director of Empathy and Relational Science Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. Medpage Today September 25, 2021.

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