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Bright Futures

Articles and Updates from Phoenix Children's

April 24, 2023
Q&A with Patient Experience Leaders
Dr. Dana Williams and Andréa Aken’Ova
Dr. Dana Williams, medical director of patient experience, and Andrea Aken’Ova, director of patient and family centered care

Every clinician and staff member has an impact on the patient and family experience. Today, we’re introducing you to two leaders helping lead Phoenix Children’s effort to ensuring we provide a consistently exceptional experience at every encounter, regardless of where the care is provided.

Dr. Dana Williams, a pediatric gastroenterologist, serves as medical director of patient experience. In this role, she works closely with Andréa Aken’Ova, the director of patient and family centered care. Get to know them in this Q&A.

Why did you choose a career in healthcare, specifically family-centered care?

Dr. Williams: From the age of 3, I was happiest when taking care of wounded dolls, animals and struggling plants. My dream was to be a doctor one day. Growing up, the car giving calling become more sophisticated as I loved fixing broken systems, I became a leader for my classmates, I helped design various projects and I became a representative for those without a strong voice. During my residency training at Cornell, I discovered how pediatric gastroenterology encompassed all aspects of pediatric medicine that were fascinating to me. It allowed me to use my creativity through procedural endoscopic skills and the honor of developing powerful relationships with children and their families. I loved the interactions with all parts of the healthcare system and the ability to be a leader while being immersed in the most exciting scientific and mentorship opportunities.

Andréa: My own pediatric healthcare experiences drew me to pursue a career in healthcare. I can vividly remember 7-year-old me visiting my pediatrician, Dr. Character, with so much anxiety, but leaving feeling comforted and able to return to activities I loved. I often see this same transformation for the patients and families we serve when our Emily Center nurses, or child life, or art therapist engages them. I also have the privilege to engage with our PFACs and hear firsthand the impact our clinical teams have as they navigate such vulnerable times. It’s extremely rewarding work.

What do you want people to know about your work in patient experience?

Andréa: Our staff, providers and volunteers really do awesome work to support our patients and families. Our work in patient experience is on ensuring everyone in our growing system has the information and tools needed to continue to support a consistently exceptional family experience regardless of location. We are building an infrastructure to better respond and learn from patient families and one another.

What does improving patient experience and family-centered care entail in a pediatric health system?

Andréa: Listening and responding. Most patients and families just want to know that when they have something to say someone is listening. When we take time to respond to their feedback, they know we heard them, and we care.

How does Phoenix Children’s commitment to patient and family centered care, and the overall patient experience, affect families?

Andréa: Our patients and families come to us when they’re most vulnerable. Our ability to center that patient and family in their care delivery process has a direct impact on how well they understand what’s happening and follow any care directives. When we provide family-centered care, it creates trust and removes some of the friction in what’s already a difficult, intimidating experience.

Can you share a time you saw the work you do behind the scenes in patient experience/family-centered care come to life?

Andréa: In the division of family centered care, we have the opportunity to connect patients to very unique experiences. Most recently that has included events like the Super Bowl, Nascar and baseball games. Families are always grateful for these experiences. However, it was really cool that our Children’s Advisory Board came up with the idea of creating Provider Trading Cards and we’ve started to see positive feedback about the cards in patient experience surveys.

What is your favorite part of your role?

Andréa: Our family centered care staff (Emily Center, 1 Darn Cool School, Child Life and Therapeutic Arts, The Child Life Zone, Patient Family Advisory Councils) do such awesome work that contributes tremendously to the patient experience. Anytime I get news that will improve how we can resource those teams whether it be a grant, donation or an innovative approach to care delivery, I get excited about the potential impact.

Dr. Williams: In my new role as medical director of patient family experience, I look forward to being an ear, a voice and a leader while expanding the projects related to this relatively new lens in healthcare delivery. I look forward to being part of the National Patient Experience Collaborative and working on multicenter teams.

The next time a staff person goes the extra mile to positively impact your family’s experience at Phoenix Children’s, nominate them for the new Patient Family Experience Award.

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