IU Health Methodist Hospital

His Charge? Revamp Patient Experience At Methodist And University

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April 03, 2018

“What is the true voice of our customer? What are people expecting from us? What are some opportunities that we have to delight them?”

BT Stuck has been asking himself those questions over and over again. And while he doesn’t have all the answers – yet -- he does have one guiding principle.

“Patients come first,” says Stuck, director of experience design for IU Health Methodist and University hospitals. “We have a golden opportunity to reshape our culture to be experience oriented.”

Thirty percent of all patients at IU Health come through Methodist and University. In addition to the clinical expertise those patients are getting, there must also be positive impressions created, he says.

We sat down with Stuck -- to learn a little more about him and his goals -- as he embarks on this new journey.

First, the name:

He goes by BT, no periods. What does that stand for? “Brandon Thomas, you’re in trouble,” he jokes.

Stuck has a brother named Brad and their dad would often get mixed up with the Brad-Brandon similarity, so he started calling Stuck BT. For most of his life, that named was reserved for family and close friends. As Stuck got deeper into his career, he chose to use it in his professional life. “It’s more relational,” he says.

Explain, in a nutshell, your mission in this new job.

“Satisfaction is one thing. Experience is another. And we’ve always talked about patient satisfaction,” Stuck says. “We’d go talk to the patient. Were they satisfied with the job that we did? Well, yes. Did we complete the task to be done? Yes, but to what end? Did we leave an impression? Did we leave them thinking fondly of us and the folks who supported them in that effort? Right now the answer is, ‘Sometimes.’ We want to make that answer ‘A lot, if not always.’”

How will you get it done?

“On a weekly basis, we will be doing things like leveraging real-time feedback to understand from the voice of the customer,” he says. “We will be out with team members to help coach and train on how to round and ensure that we are hearing patients proactively before it becomes a detractor after the fact.”

Stuck plans to address service recovery, “which is a huge opportunity to take someone from being a detractor to a promoter if we treat them right,” he says.

“If we are going to say that our patients come first, if we are going to say that we are the best, then we can no longer say that the patient experience is secondary or tertiary to things like other compliance issues,” Stuck says. “It has to be one of our driving goals.”

Huge undertaking:

“I am more than eager to jump on this bull. It is complex and challenging. The AHC is not a little beast,” he says. “But everything that I have ever done in my life that has been the most challenging, most daunting, the most fearful thing has always been the most rewarding.”

How he got here:

Stuck grew up on the south side of Indianapolis, but ended up graduating from Zionsville High School, where his dad lived. When Stuck headed off to Ball State University, he considered nursing and architecture. But he ultimately chose journalism graphics for his undergraduate degree. “I always had a penchant for visual storytelling,” Stuck says.

With his degree, Stuck went to work at The Florida Times-Union in 2006. He later worked in both Virginia and Chicago as a journalist. After having several healthcare experiences during a 3-year period, he had a change of heart.

“Those experiences turned my life upside down. It took away my health. It took away my happiness in many ways,” he says. “I went through those experiences and I said, ‘I’m tired of telling stories, I want to make them.’”

Stuck went back to school to get a master’s degree in design thinking and design leadership. “I jumped in head first and spent two years of my life to say, ‘I want to be a designer of better lives, better experiences,’” he says.

Entering the healthcare realm:

He did his thesis, during his graduate studies, on designing mobile devices to create better therapeutic relationships between nurses and patients. “Rather than having technology intercede the care and communication,” Stuck says. “How can we use it to support them?”

Shortly after he graduated, he was introduced to members of IU Health, which was creating a position of patient experience coordinator within design and construction. Stuck landed the gig.

He then transferred over to be a project manager over customer experience before coming back to the construction and design team to focus on designing empathic buildings to meet and exceed the needs of patients and staff.

Less than a month ago, he took the newly created position of director of experience design.

More with Stuck

Personal: He and his wife, Terri Wada, have a 6-year-old daughter Leilani (which means heavenly flower).

Outside of IU Health: He still dabbles in lots of arts. He loves to spend time with his family. They go apple picking, visit Hawaii (where his wife is from) and last weekend, they went to Comic Con.

-- By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.

Reach Benbow via email dbenbow@iuhealth.org or on Twitter @danabenbow.

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