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Fostering 'Mango-Moments‘ – Developing and Evaluating a Health Care Management Tool to Improve Patients’ Experiences Through Small Gestures
Authors: Maarten Volkers (University of Hagen, Germany)
A journalist asked Viviane, an enervated cancer patient, if she could do anything to make her feel better. Viviane answered: „I would like to taste a mango again.“ The journalist brought a mango, and Viviane said: „I will never forget this“ (Vanhaecht, 2018).
Based on this story, researchers adopted the term ‘mango-moments’ to describe small and unexpected gestures by health care workers towards a patient. Such gestures go beyond general medical care but cost little time and resources. Mango-moments are performed spontaneously during normal day-to-day care activities, which distinguishes them from external care programs such as ‘make a wish’ (Vanhaecht 2018).
Mango-moments performed by health care workers can have a positive impact on multiple levels:
First, mango-moments increase patients’ psychological well-being by giving them hope, joy and warmth (KU Leuven 2018).
Second, mango-moments increase a patient’s trust in health care staff. Previous research suggests that trust is crucial for patients to participate effectively in the health care process (Berry 2017; Hall et al. 2001).
Third, enabling a mango-moment may feel rewarding for health workers and can therefore increase job satisfaction (Vanhaecht 2018).
However, enabling mango-moments is a type of extra-role customer service (Bettencourt und Brown 1997) that not all health care workers can perform intuitively (Grove et al. 2004). It requires them to be receptive for patients’ preferences and act spontaneously and creatively (Daly et al. 2009). Moreover, health workers usually have limited time and resources to spend on a single patient and sometimes need to deal with stressful circumstances. Hence, performing such gestures requires training as well as a supportive organization climate (Morrison 1996).
Research on how patient experiences can be improved is limited to communication skill training, which mainly concerns general medical care, e.g. delivering bad news and setting up health care plans (e.g. Haidet et al. 2009). Not much is known regarding the improvement of patient experiences through non-medical interactions. Literature regarding extra-role customer service has generated useful insights regarding general organizational climate factors that support such behaviors (e.g. Coelho et al. 2011; Maxham and Netemeyer 2003). However, research regarding how service providers, and particularly health care providers should foster and train such “creative extra-role service” is lacking (Wilder et al. 2014).
We aim to fill this gap by answering the following research question: How can mango-moments be fostered within health care organizations? To answer this question, we conduct a case-study in various hospital departments, consisting of observations, interviews and focus groups with health care workers, managers and educators as well as interviews with patients. The goal is to harness health workers’ and patients’ experiences as well as experts’ knowledge in order to develop, implement and evaluate a management tool that helps fostering mango-moments.