Hi, I’m Allison.
Understanding and acknowledging the experience of healthcare professionals is key to improving the patient experience. I help organizations to use the Experience-Based Co-Design improvement model, to give a voice to those who long to be heard, to foster authentic partnership between healthcare professionals and community members, and to develop patient experience solutions
Real-time, unbiased information on the staff & patient experience
Sustainable, cost-effective solutions that benefit patients, families, and staff alike
About Allison Chrestensen, MPH, OTR/L
As a healthcare professional, I found it difficult to navigate a constantly changing environment and to remain connected to my desire to improve quality of life for my patients. I felt like the wind was always blowing against me, rather then pushing me along. Ultimately, I pushed myself beyond my boundaries and suffered from professional burnout.
As a quality improvement specialist, I often found large-scale challenges like health inequality and system inefficiencies daunting. And while QI methodologies helped me to create process and structure around large-scale projects, I observed that the solutions we created to address issues affecting many people were based on the perspectives and ideas of a select few. Most often, the people directly affected by the challenge and by the solution were not at the table.
As a patient in the Emergency Department, the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, and on an inpatient cardiology step-down unit, I was in awe of the miracles healthcare practitioners perform. Every hour of every day. While I observed clinicians who are masters of the science and the practice, I noticed a part of the art and the humanity of the healing professions was missing. We’ve lost the human experience that ultimately binds us together and the vulnerability that comes with being a sick patient or a clinician who doesn’t have all the answers.
I believe the power to transform the experience of providing care for our healthcare practitioners and of receiving care for our patients and families is at our fingertips. By changing the way we conduct clinical conversations, we shift the patient/provider relationship from conflict-ridden to collaborative. By opening seats on planning committees to the community members we serve, we establish trust and invite new ideas. By showing compassion for ourselves as caregivers, we replenish our energy resources and reconnect to the purpose that brings us to this difficult work. That’s how we reconnect to the human side of healthcare.
I founded Tandem Healthcare Solutions to help healthcare organizations re-establish trusting relationships with their staff and the community members they serve. I’ve worked with over 100 hospitals around the country: from large, academic health systems to small, critical access hospitals to build innovative and sustainable models for partnership with patients and to restore joy in work for staff. Let’s start where you are.
The Letters and The Numbers
I am a licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L) with over 10 years of experience specializing in cancer rehabilitation. After earning my Masters of Public Health (MPH) degree, I began working in healthcare quality improvement, leading large-scale projects for Medicaid waiver programs and conducting training programs for providers. Inspired by my own patient experience after a catastrophic cardiac event in 2013, I became a certified Health and Wellness Coach with the aim of helping others to reclaim control over their wellbeing following a traumatic health event.
I went on to develop the Patient/Family Advisor Program at Duke University Health System and to co-create a highly-rated Patient/Family Engagement-focused workshop series, showcased by the Beryl Institute and the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care. I currently serve as faculty for Duke University Health System’s Team STEPPS Master Trainer program where I teach organizations from around the world how to partner with patients and families to provide safer care.
I live in the Research Triangle Region of North Carolina.
- BS in Occupational Therapy from the Medical College of Georgia
- MPH in Health Policy and Administration from the University of Georgia
- Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Wellcoaches
- Team STEPPS Master Trainer
- Advisory Board Member: Canadian Patient Safety Institute
- Advisory Board Member: The Institute for Patient and Family-Centered Care