CARES™ for Consistent Patient Experiences

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In our second episode of Healthcare Experience Matters, Healthcare Experience Foundation (HXF) President Katie Owens joins the podcast to discuss CARES™ for Consistent Patient Experiences. 

“CARES™ is all about consistent, reliable, excellent communication,” Katie said. “It’s designed to equip leaders, staff, and physicians with that authentic communication style.”

Communication is among the most substantial catalysts of the patient experience and a major contributor to medical errors. CARES™ focuses on five key behaviors which Katie covers on today’s podcast. These five behaviors include:

1.    Confidence

2.    Anticipate Needs

3.    Respectful Communication

4.    Engage in Care & Process

5.    Say Thank You, Make a Safe Transition

Communicating effectively deserves our complete and full attention. It is critical in distancing us (and our institutions) from adverse results and negative outcomes.

Building trust with patients and families, and one another, through the CARES™ model creates better experiences for us all. CARES™ starts with empathy, it is at the heart of this model. With empathy at its core, CARES™ works in every setting and level of care.

Communication with patients and each other is quite possibly the top area that leaders, physicians and staff are seeking to better develop. This renders the CARES™ model more important than ever to understand and share. 


First impressions are vital. In healthcare we must portray confidence in ourselves and build trust within our patients. When patients – and their loved ones – trust us, they are better equipped to participate in their care. This will promote their own healing and wellness. 

Anticipate Needs

We all strive to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our patients. It’s why we are in this line of work in the first place. Empathy is all about anticipating what our patients require and learning how to view the tasks we perform from our patient’s viewpoint.

Anticipating needs is about recognizing slight gestures and picking up on our patient’s body language. We must create a deeper connection with patients by anticipating needs beyond the clinical limit.

Respectful Communication

We have all made mistakes where we miscommunicate through body language, lack of empathy, or by using medical jargon we assume patients understand (even when they do not). Respectful communication builds trust and reduces anxiety.

As Katie reminds us on today’s podcast, “93 percent of how we communicate is through tone of voice and body language. We focus on how to both elevate our nonverbal communication and then focus on what we call high velocity words that are more likely to stick and convey trust and respect and minimize fear and anxiety.”

Engage in Care & Process

Excellent care results from successful efforts to help patients understand what we are doing and why. When we can narrate our care effectively, we engage patients in their own care. Learning how to better do this in each interaction with patients help us:

    Eliminate miscues.

    Avoid misunderstandings. 

    Set proper expectations time and time again.

Say Thank You, Make a Safe Transition

What do you want your patients to remember about you? 

When our time of care is complete and the patient moves on, we must offer our sincere thanks for the chance to care for them. It is imperative they feel that gratitude from us as they return home or move to another department.

People generally do not remember what you say or do, but they do remember how you make them feel. 

Learn More

Ready to learn more about CARES™? The Healthcare Experience Academy has a six-part course called  CARES™ for Consistent Patient Experiences now available. 

More HX Matters Podcasts

Our podcast is dedicated to transforming the health care experience so that every person can receive and deliver the best care.

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Meet Katie Owens

Katie believes that the way we deliver and receive healthcare matters—not just for the patients, but for the caregivers, the providers, and administration, too.

As President of the Healthcare Experience Foundation, Katie is taking bold steps to assure that every organization has access to resources for engaging patients and developing their workforce to achieve results. Katie is an innovator, implementing new ways to deliver the best in patient-centered care.

She has influenced hundreds of organizations and thousands of leaders to equip their cultures and instill competencies that create environments of person-centered excellence. Her fundamental tenet is that every person is worthy of an environment where they feel confident in receiving and delivering the best possible care. Known as a leader among leaders, Katie previously served on the HealthStream Leadership Team as Vice President of the Engagement Institute. She also served on the Baptist Health Care (BHC) leadership team in Pensacola, Florida, where she supported the system’s sustained journey to excellence. Katie has led teams of expert coaches dedicated to improving the quality of the patient experience and has been instrumental in creating leading-edge learning assets to support patient experience competencies. She is most proud of having grown Baptist Leadership Group to one of the most respected healthcare coaching practices in the country before being acquired by HealthStream in 2013.

Katie is the lead author of The HCAHPS Imperative for Creating Patient-Centered Excellence and is currently writing her second book about the importance of speaking the patient’s language. She is frequently quoted and has been published in the Huffington Post, Healthcare Financial Management Magazine and Hospitals and Health Networks. She is an energetic, internationally-recognized speaker and has presented for many highly-respected organizations, including American College of Healthcare Executives, Beryl Institute, Cleveland Clinic’s Empathy Summit, Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development, and Healthcare Financial Management Association.

Connect with Katie Owens
More episodes with Katie Owens