In the early 1980’s Griffin Hospital faced a number of challenges: declining profit margins and market share; needed facility improvements; an aging medical staff; and difficulty recruiting physicians, medical education program interns and residents. In 1982, Griffin Hospital designed and conducted its first community perception survey. Thirty-two percent of residents named Griffin as the hospital they would choose to avoid. Market research predicted changing demographics (influx of young, upwardly mobile residents) and increased economic development. Medicare introduced prospective payment reimbursement.
Facing these grim realities, Griffin employees participated in a process to define a hospital experience that they would want for themselves or their own families. The enormous gap between what they collectively desired (a patient and family-centered experience) and what they were delivering to patients led to the development of a new Childbirth Center in 1987. Every service or amenity prospective patients wanted was provided. Patient and staff satisfaction quickly reached 100 percent, and new physicians were easily recruited. Putting Patients First became the cornerstone of the hospital’s vision, mission and employee philosophy.
Angelica Theriot founded the Planetree organization in San Francisco, California in 1978. Planetree’s mission is to serve as a catalyst in the development and implementation of new models of health care, which cultivate the healing of mind, body and spirit; are patient-centered, value-based and holistic; and integrate western scientific medicine with time-honored healing practices. The first Planetree model hospital project was piloted in San Francisco, CA in 1985; by 1990, Planetree had five model hospital sites.
After a period of extensive research, Griffin Hospital’s leadership selected Planetree as the organization to help advance its vision of a patient-centered approach to care and design a new 100,000 square foot patient care building. In 1991, Griffin Hospital became the first member of the Planetree Alliance membership organization, which would grow to a maximum of 26 hospitals before shrinking to 16 over the next 5 years.
In 1998, Griffin Health Services acquired Planetree, and the national headquarters was relocated to Connecticut. Today the non-profit Planetree, Inc. organization is an internationally recognized leader in pioneering patient-centered health care delivery, and its membership has grown to 130 hospitals in the US, Canada and Europe (see Implementation and Replication).
Patient and Provider focus groups informed the model design and evolution. Griffin utilizes both patient and provider (physicians and employee) focus groups to validate the need for change. Putting Patients First into action has resulted in an environment where common obstacles are perceived as challenges to overcome. “Why not?” is a familiar question asked over and over until the right solution is identified.