Get to Know: Bush Bell
UVA Health System Patient Experience Officer
As part of its efforts to create a culture in which everyone excels in serving patients and their families, University of Virginia Health System welcomes Bush Bell as its first-ever Patient Experience Officer. Bell has vast experience in building and directing best-in-class service programs, both in the hospitality and healthcare industries. Most recently, he was the Corporate Director for Customer Service at Kennedy Health in New Jersey. His position with UVA began on Nov. 4.
Why do you feel customer service is a key component of good healthcare?
I’ve been in healthcare eight years now and I’ve come to realize that, whether you are a patient or a guest at a hotel, you want to be treated with respect. Your needs should be met with efficiency, caring and compassion if you are dining at a restaurant, checking into a hotel or visiting the hospital. The expectations to be treated with respect as an individual are no different.
Patients don’t typically know if we’re using the latest evidence-based medicine, but they do know how they were treated as a person. So the way they evaluate their whole experience is based on that customer service piece. It allows all of us to have an immense impact because we can help make their experience great, and make it one they will remember positively. I’m honored to be a part of that.
What does a positive patient experience look like?
Overall, it comes down to delivering the right care, at the right time, with the right provider — every time. This means that we make it easy for the patient to get access to the most appropriate caregiver, and no matter who they see — whether it is a doctor, advanced practice nurse or technician — they can expect to be treated in a compassionate, respectful way. Everyone here has a key piece in the broader patient experience and if one piece fails, then the whole thing falls apart. We are committed to providing a positive experience to every patient, every time.
What is your first priority at UVA?
I learned early on that leaders are not effective unless they understand the current state, so for the first 90 days, I will be listening to staff and asking patients and families what they think of the patient experience so that I understand where we are today before I develop a strategy for the future.
You spent much of your career in the hospitality industry, with Hampton Inn and Sheraton Hotels. Why did you make the switch to healthcare?
After working with a health system in New Jersey, I realized the impact I can have — even in a support role — on patients and families. I recognized how personally rewarding it is to help patients and families through the worst times of their lives and I got hooked on it. It’s more rewarding for me than the hospitality industry.