Bringing the Patient Experience to Life : Focus on Patient Stories (Presentation)

Today I got to do one of my favorite things, talk about bringing the patient story into the conversation.  This time, it took the form of a panel of Kaiser Permanente members who volunteered to share their health experience, some very intense, with Kaiser Permanente’s professional Brand, Communications, and Public Relations team, led by Diane Gage Lofgren, the Senior Vice President for Brand, Communications, and Public Relations ( @dianelofgren ).

The three members/families have gone through the process of signing official consents that their experience may be shared, and gave me permission to post the photographs below. 

Olivia Stuckert’s story ( shown here in this video produced by University of California San Francisco ) shows the value of community collaboration and top notch medical care in making a difference for a young family.  Christina Ahlstrand, who was featured in this article about Kaiser Permanente in The Economist , shows how a modern health care system can allow people to just live their lives , and Ryan MacGregor taught us about appreciating the impact that we can have, in the most difficult times, by connecting with our patients as people.

I was reminded today by Ryan, Christina, Stephanie, and Brent, that  when people accumulate an incredible amount of health experience in a very short time or over a longer time, they often emerge wanting to share more, rather than less about it, even at the risk of reliving the pain they’ve felt (sometimes to the point of tears).

I have seen this same thinking in the efforts of Dave deBrokart ( @epatientdave ) and Regina Holliday ( @ReginaHolliday ) as well and I am moved every time.  I think this a gift that exceptional people give so that all parts of a health system can focus on helping others heal faster.

They tell us that all that we have to do is ask and they’ll help. How can we not – we are fortunate and honored to bring this voice into our conversations.

In this case, by the way, several of my colleagues did ask, notably Holly Potter ( @htpotter ), Farra Levin ( @farralevin ) and Trish Doherty ( @trishdoherty ) – bringing the patient story in the conversation feels even better when it’s not my idea.

How do you bring or promote bringing patient stories into the work you do? Please post in the comments….


We cannot talk too much to patients and hear their stories – it always puts a face and a reality to healthcare while reminding us why we do what we do.

We're trying to go beyond just posting a few stories on the web. We're reuqesting stories online, reaching out to hospital staff who see the stories first hand, inviting patients to sessions where they can share their experience, etc.

Dear Lee,

This is very heartening to hear about for people like me. I was going to suggest that we will learn more through your twitterfeed ( @sentarahealth ) and see that you are already putting your work out there – – so you are already doing this.

I would be interested in learning more and sharing here, we can't have enough models for this kind of commitment, thank you again,


What an interesting and compelling post. Yet ultimately, when healthcare organizations consider the steps needed to improve the patient experience, they face a business decision.

Here’s an interesting and compelling article by Cleveland Clinic Chief Experience Officer Dr. James Merlino that lays out the business case for the patient experience. It’s called “The Patient Experience: Why Top Hospitals Should Care.”


Thanks for the link to the post, and to an institution that prioritizes patient experience.

Your comment is very well taken, as well, good to have ideas of how to frame patient experience in real terms for hospitals,


Ted Eytan, MD