Leveraging the Power of Peer Coaches, Role Models and Grassroots Champions

Shannon Morris [2014 Cleveland Clinic Patient Experience Speaker Podcast] In our continuing series of leadership interviews, Lonnie Hirsch of Healthcare Success talks with Shannon Morris, Service Excellence Manager, Children’s National Health System, Washington, DC. Shannon will be speaking at the Cleveland Clinic Patient Experience Summit on the topic of: The Power of Peer Coaches: Leveraging the Grassroots Passion for Patient Experience.

As the exclusive provider of pediatric care in the Washington, DC, area, Children’s National is a large organization with 38 locations throughout the DC, Maryland and Virginia area. A peer coach program is one way to help improve the experience of families and patients from the grass roots.

In today’s podcast, Shannon Morris—a certified executive and leadership development coach—talks with Lonnie Hirsch about her upcoming presentation, and in particular, about how peer coaches provide role models for teams and individuals.

  • 2014 Patient Experience Summit: The Power of Peer Coaches, Role Models and Champions
  • Cleveland Clinic Speaker Series: Shannon Morris, Children’s National Health System

Some of the highlights from Lonnie’s conversation with Shannon include:

Q: In the context of Patient Experience, tell us about Children’s National Peer Coach Program.

A: Our coaches are role models and champions for patient experience through coaching of colleagues and other staff. The Children’s National Peer Coach program is composed of employees who volunteer for training as peer-to-peer coaches within the organization. These employees act as influencers or change agents. Since 2008, this program has supported staff and created conversations about how we can better serve our families and patients.

Q: Why and how are Peer Coaches effective?

A: Our coaches are a fabulous resource for reaching a large organization and as champions for programs around safety and service. We leverage the International Coaching Federation’s curriculum, methodology and concept of coaching. As a framework, coaching is defined as “partnering with people in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

Q: How do you keep a “Peer Coach” motivated?

A: The great thing about our coaches (and because the program is at the grass roots level), we have highly committed and dedicated people with a passion for improving the experience of families and patients and having a significant impact on the organization. Many of them are self-directed and self-motivated…and they really are ambassadors to this work.

Q: How do you measure the effectiveness of a Peer Coach?

A: There are a variety of ways that we monitor effectiveness. Sometimes we go to areas and work directly with a coach. Coaches want to have ‘hands on’ training. We also do an annual retreat for training and development. Sometimes it’s challenging to demonstrate Return-on-Investment. It’s not easy to measure and it’s something we’re working to improve.

Q: How should an organization get started in establishing a Peer Coaching program?

This is a program that can be scaled. You can begin in one particular area and scale it up. You can tackle it across the organization. It’s important to begin in an open way, and make it clear that you’re looking for role models and champions, and not necessarily a “fix it” program, and finding the kind of person who is passionate about this kind of work.

From May 18th through the 21st, the Cleveland Clinic will host the 5th Annual Patient Experience: Empathy + Innovation Summit. Healthcare Success is pleased to be a Supporting Partner for this event, and we invite you to register and attend.

Please join Lonnie Hirsch and Stewart Gandolf who will be speaking at the Summit. Additional podcast interviews in this continuing series are available on this page.

Lonnie Hirsch

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Shannon M. Morris, PMP, MSOD, CELDC, is Service Excellence Manager at Children’s National Health System, Washington, DC. Shannon is an organizational development specialist, trainer and Certified Executive & Leadership Development Coach. Her specialty is helping teams and individuals uncover opportunities and adapt to complex workplace demands.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer & Creative Director at Healthcare Success
Over the years Stewart has personally marketed and consulted for over 1,457 healthcare clients, ranging from private practices to multi-billion dollar corporations. Additionally, he has marketed a variety of America’s leading companies, including Citicorp, J. Walter Thompson, Grubb & Ellis, Bally Total Fitness, Wells Fargo and Chase Manhattan. Stewart co-founded our company, and today acts as Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director. He is also a frequent author and speaker on the topic of healthcare marketing. His personal accomplishments are supported by a loving wife and two beautiful daughters.



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