Today’s patient-consumers are no longer satisfied with the status quo when it comes to healthcare delivery. They want more from their hospital experience: more involvement, better communication, and greater control over their care journey.

Many hospitals are meeting these demands by delivering a hospital experience that puts the patient at the center of their care. But only a select few have demonstrated enough mastery to receive the prestigious Planetree Gold Certification—the mark for providing the highest level of patient-centered care.

So, what does it take to achieve this accolade of excellence?

Here’s how one Gold-Certified hospital elevated its patient-centered care delivery, and some best practices for following their model.

What is the Planetree Gold Certification?

The Planetree certification process creates a framework and standard that healthcare providers can follow to deliver the highest levels of patient-centered care. It emphasizes, “The quality of human interactions that occur within healthcare settings, the importance of connecting healthcare personnel to the purpose and meaning of their work, and practical strategies for engaging patients and family members as true partners in care.”

The certification process is judged by a healthcare provider’s ability to implement Planetree’s five guiding principles and their 26 sub-criteria. The five principles include:

  1. Create organizational structures that promote engagement – Break down barriers—both organizational and physical structures—that separate each care provider from their patients.
  2. Connect values, strategies, and actions – Implement behaviors and tasks that align actions with organizational values and missions.
  3. Implement practices that promote partnership – Adopt methods, processes, and behaviors that build working relationships between patients and their care teams and facilitate communication.
  4. Know what matters – Provide individualized, primary care that’s tailored to a specific patient’s needs, preferences, and values.
  5. Use evidence to drive improvement – Instill the operations necessary to enact and measure meaningful change.

Planetree gauges a hospital’s patient-centeredness based on several factors, including patient experience, quality of care, staff engagement, staff retention, and safety culture. They score a hospital’s efforts on a scale of 1-160 points, with a three-tier recognition system for successful healthcare organizations, To achieve Gold-level certification, a hospital must meet an impressive 90% of the criteria or more.

The Planetree Certification is the only industry recognition that lauds excellence in person-centered care. When an organization receives this mark, it signals to patients and the wider community that it’s a hospital focused on partnering with and empowering its patients throughout every step of their care journey.


How Banner Health Transformed its Organization

In 2016, Banner Health Page Hospital in Arizona—already a Bronze-certified facility—set a goal to reach the gold standard. And by 2020, it became the first hospital in the entire state to achieve that mark, joining an illustrious group of just 95 other hospitals worldwide.

But how did a rural, 25-bed critical access hospital succeed where many other globally-renowned hospitals came up short?

Banner Page Hospital administrators knew where their organization was succeeding and where there was room for improvement to get them from bronze to gold—namely, patient engagement. They needed a solution that would help patients interact with their healthcare records, have visibility over their care team and medical tests, and foster a two-way conversation with their care teams.

They found this in the Sentrics E3 patient experience platform.

Armed with the E3 tool, Banner Health-Page Hospital was able to optimize and analyze its engagement improvement efforts. Melisa Serventi, the hospital’s associate director of Med/Surg/WIS, credits a large portion of their success to their strategic implementation of interactive patient experience technology, saying, “The E3 patient experience platform was a true catalyst in helping us achieve this accomplishment.”

The Keys to Excellence in Person-Centered Care

So, how did E3 spur the transformation from a bronze to a gold standard? It helped them focus on five key steps that every organization should follow:

#1 Ask Patients and Families What They Want and Need

Input from both patients and their families is an invaluable resource that more hospitals can use to their advantage. Current and former patients can provide a lived experience and external perspective that you can leverage to lay the foundation of your organization’s strategic direction.

Hospitals that do this make patients and their families feel valued and heard, which causes them to view your hospital more favorably.

Banner Health-Page Hospital spurred such conversations with E3’s digital interactive feedback tools and check-in surveys. Patients could use their in-room televisions or other connected devices to address any questions or concerns about their care plan, the clinical staff, or their room setting. This gave hospitals greater visibility over every single patient, allowing them to address patient concerns in real-time before they could get out of hand.

#2 Communicate Effectively with Patients

One of the most commonly cited patient complaints is a lack of communication during their hospital stay.

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, “Fewer than 1 in 20 online complaints cite diagnosis, treatments and outcomes in healthcare as unsatisfactory, whereas more than 19 of 20 unhappy patients said inadequate communications and disorganized operations drove them to post harsh reviews.”

But communication isn’t simply about patient satisfaction. It also drives healthcare outcomes.

Studies show that patients who are engaged with their care plan—conditions, medications, self-care strategies, post-discharge care, etc.—are more likely to have better health outcomes and higher levels of satisfaction.

Although nothing can replace face-to-face communication, busy hospitals can supplement their efforts by using engaging, real-time digital communication tools that improve patient engagement and clinical staff efficiency. For example, with E3, hospitals can offer:

  • Personalized Education – Nurses can automatically assign patients educational videos tailored to their individual care plan. Patients watch at their leisure, and then nurses can review during rounding. Since that activity is automatically written back into the EMR, nurses across shifts have 360-degree visibility into the patient’s engagement with education without ever leaving the EMR platform.
  • Digital whiteboards – Digital whiteboards give patients 24/7 access to relevant details surrounding their care plan. Using an E3 digital whiteboard, the hospital can customize the information presented to the patient, including things like their care team, medications, test results, daily goals, dietary plan, and more.
  • Digital signage – Digital signage can be incorporated throughout a hospital – or delivered to specific units – to share hospital news important for patients, visitors and staff.

#3 Involve Patients in their Care

From admission to post-discharge, patients must be involved at each step of the clinical care experience. But their involvement is especially critical when it comes to discharge planning.

For a discharge plan to be successful, it needs to be conveyed in clear and concise language that both patients and their family members can understand and then follow. And hospitals require processes that reinforce and then assess a patient’s overall comprehension.

With E3, providers like Banner Page Hospital can create custom discharge plans for each patient with auto-assigned videos and interactive educational materials. Patients can even email assigned materials to family members or caregivers to further improve their post-discharge care understanding. As the patient’s discharge date nears, E3’s automated workflows improve efficiency for the discharge planner to track and confirm the patient’s discharge readiness.

#4.  Make the Hospital Room Comfortable and Welcoming

Healthcare providers must expand comfort capabilities to put hospitality back in the hospital room.

When patient experience improves, patients have less anxiety and stress and greater satisfaction in their stay.  Additionally, as Planetree notes: “A greater sense of control over their environment can translate into a greater sense of agency in patients’ own care, setting the stage for more effective partnership in all aspects of treatment.”

Sentrics E3 gives patients control over their in-room experience—whether it’s selecting from a wide range of entertainment options, controlling their room comfort settings, requesting housekeeping services, listening to relaxing music, or ordering a meal.

By incorporating this technology into its hospital rooms, Banner Page Health was able to make its patients active participants throughout their stay.

5. Don’t Overlook Your Caregivers

While a hospital’s first concern should always be the patients it serves, equally important is its staff’s health and happiness.

Nursing is a stressful, demanding, and high-pressure job. Per My American Nurse, “43% of newly licensed nurses who work in hospitals leave their jobs within 3 years, another 33.5% resign after 2 years, and 17.5% work for only 1 year.” Add the recent pandemic to the mix and it’s little surprise that the nursing turnover rate climbed to all-time highs of 17.2% nationwide.

Nursing turnover is costly for hospitals. It creates inconsistent care provision and places additional strains on existing staff. Plus, there are the costs of hiring and training someone new. According to the 2019 National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report, the average cost of turnover for a bedside RN is $52,100.

Unaddressed, this will only continue to be an ongoing problem for hospitals.

By making a concerted effort to support your staff, you can improve nurse satisfaction, reduce turnover, and improve the quality of care provided.

With Sentrics E3, Banner Page Hospital was able to help relieve its nurses of many of the non-clinical tasks that once caused frustration and took time away from clinical care. By automating several routine processes, Banner optimized its operations and ensured that nurses were spending time on what they do best —caring for patients.

Paving the Path to a Person-Centered Care Plan

With the help of Sentrics, Banner Page Hospital applied these best practices along its journey to Gold Certification. In the process, it proved that even a small hospital could be globally recognized for excellence by partnering with the right technology.

And they’re not the only Sentrics success story. Northern Westchester Hospital also used E3 to establish new benchmarks for patient-centered care. It received a Gold Certification for its outstanding efforts.

Want to learn more about how they did it? We encourage you to read their case studies:



Planetree. Person-Centered Care Certification™ Program Manual.

Allen. How E3 Interactive Patient Experience Platform Helped Banner-Page Hospital Achieve Planetree Gold Certification.

NCBI. Patients’ complaints regarding healthcare encounters and communication.

Becker’s Hospital Review. Patients’ No. 1 complaint? Front-desk staff.

NCBI. Reducing Hospital Readmission: Current Strategies and Future Directions.

American Nurse. Nurse turnover: Understand it, reduce it.

2019 National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report.