Culture & Leadership | Patient Family & Community Engagement | Patient Advocacy | Patient and Care Partners

Culture & Leadership: The Impact of Patients and Families on Decision-Making

By Kelly Foran

This is the fourth blog in a series of eight by The Beryl Institute’s Global Patient & Family Advisory Board (GPFAB). The intent of this series is to present our perspective on patients’ and families’ lived experience through each of the strategic lenses of The Beryl Institute’s Experience Framework. The Experience Framework is a community-developed tool that acknowledges the integrated nature of healthcare experience and is comprised of eight strategic lenses that help shape patient experience efforts.

Culture and Leadership: The Why

The foundation of any successful experience effort is set on who an organization is, its purpose and values, and how it is led.

Impact Statement

When an organization’s culture is aligned with its purpose and values, patients and families feel that the entire organization is designed to provide them with the best possible experience and find comfort and joy in every interaction across the organization.


Culture and leadership are the cornerstones of any experience effort. As key drivers to overall experience improvement, they are important to building an organizational culture where patients and families feel they are treated with dignity and respect, are listened to and communicated to in a manner they can understand. Culture and leadership also influence how safe people feel inside healthcare organizations. When patients and families perceive that they are receiving the highest quality of care and the best treatment, it creates feelings of trust, which ultimately means better healthcare outcomes.

Examples of a positive culture and engaged leadership include:

  • The organization has a clear definition of experience for the organization and shares it with everyone.
  • Leadership expresses and acts upon a clear commitment to experience efforts.
  • Staff demonstrate empathy and compassion to patients and family members and to each other.
  • Staff and providers respond quickly and appropriately when asked for something.

Poor culture and disengaged leaders can negatively impact experience because healthcare transformation starts at the top. A vision for improved patient care and experience must be established at the highest level and reinforced downward through all levels of the organization. If leaders don’t own experience improvement and are not dedicated and committed to it, meaningful change is not possible. Without change, patients and families will have poor experiences that break down trust. They may leave their provider and go elsewhere or stop seeking care altogether.

A key to improving experience is including the voices of patients and families in strategic planning. Listening and acting on their feedback when making decisions offers organizations an opportunity to use the lived experience of patients and families to address what really matters to them.

Ways to involve patients, families and care partners in strategic planning include:

  • Embedding in quality, safety and accreditation committees
  • Partnering in research and education
  • Including in recruitment and hiring

Improving patient experience through the lens of culture and leadership is important to patients and families because it is key to transforming the human experience in healthcare. Compassionate and caring cultures will build trust, create loyalty and lead to overall better health and wellness. Including their voice and embracing their lived experience will bring lasting change that is needed in healthcare now and into the future.