Appreciative Inquiry Explained

So how does this "patient interview" work? Sibley's Innovation Hub is located on the ground floor. We take the elevator up to 4th floor (for orthopedics) / 5th floor (for oncology) / 6th floor (med-surg). We sanitize our hands, breathe in, enter the unit, and head to the nurse station. We smile, introduce ourselves (that we are from the innovation hub, doing a study on patient experience with sound) and we ask if there are any patients with whom we may be able to do a quick interview. We receive suggestions. Then we go to those rooms and we knock. The first ten seconds, while we introduce ourselves and ask for permission to interview, is the most intimidating. Being a combination of extrovert / introvert, there are days that it feels extra uphill - in a way not much different from going on stage and letting it flow. At the end it is (almost always) the most rewarding, transforming experience, despite everything.

Soon I find out that starting the question with sound/noise makes most patients feel a bit stumbled. In a visually-oriented culture, hearing is sort of a minority of all the senses - it is so subliminal that most of us don't even think about what we are hearing on day to day basis (that's probably why some traditions use the focus on sound as a tool for meditation/mindfulness). So we start the questions with something simple - "Ms. ___, how did you sleep last night?" "Was there anything that you noticed?" "Can you walk us through all the sounds/noises you hear? Of all the sounds, which one is most irritating to you?"

Following the guideline of appreciative inquiry we always end the interview with positive questions - do you like music? What kind of music do you like? What is your favorite place to relax (outside the hospital)?