UI Health receives patient experience award

Physician and young patient

UI Health received the award for commitment to the patient care experience.


The University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System received a Success Story Award from Press Ganey, a leading national health care performance and patient experience improvement company.

UI Health, a first-time winner, is one of only 15 organizations nationally to receive the award in 2014. The awards recognize “outstanding health care providers that have demonstrated innovation and leadership to measurably improve patient care, clinical quality, physician partnership or employee partnership and have successfully implemented organizational change.”

Airica Steed accepts an award from Pat Ryan

UI Health chief experience officer Airica Steed accepts the award from Press Ganey CEO Patrick Ryan.

“This award validates UI Health’s commitment to creating a culture of excellence when it comes to quality of care customer service, which our employees provide every day, and whom we value immensely,” said Airica Steed, UI Health’s first-appointed chief experience officer. The customer experience at UI Health has improved continuously, she said, “because of our strong belief in being, first and foremost, a patient- and family-focused organization that combines quality health care with an equally exceptional patient experience.”

“Being one of only a small handful of organizations across the entire nation to receive this award is a tremendous honor for our employees, providers, and leaders,” said Avijit Ghosh, chief executive officer of UI Health. “Our patients seek and deserve the very best care, and we are pleased that this honor is reflective of our commitment to providing just that.”

Patrick Ryan, chief executive officer of Press Ganey, said the company was “proud to partner with UI Health.”

“UI Health’s innovation and leadership has led to significant improvement in their patient experience,” Ryan said.

Among recent initiatives launched at UI Health under the leadership of the chief experience officer was the creation of a Patient & Family Advisory Council and the creation of a new “patient experience navigator” position.

The council is made up of a diverse group of current and past patients as well as family members and UI Health employees who share their experience with hospital administration and provide insight into areas that could be changed or improved to enhance the customer experience.

The patient experience navigator is “our take on the traditional patient advocate role in most hospitals,” said Steed.

Patient advocates typically address patient complaints as they occur. In contrast, UI Health’s three patient experience navigators visit every admitted patient at least once during their stay to proactively provide information about the hospital and its non-medical services, including its concierge, pastoral care, and language support services.

“The patient experience navigator is a roadblock-remover for our patients,” Steed said. “They anticipate patient’s needs and are there with the information or support they need to make their stay with us exceptional.”

Other improvements at UI Health noted by Press Ganey include significantly reduced wait times for callers to the Customer CARE Center; more purposeful engagement with patients; and the adoption of best practices in customer service from leaders in other industries, such as Disney and the Ritz Carlton hotel chain.

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