Once A Riley Mom, She’s Back To Make Hospital Experience Superb

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Her 6-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2005 and Tracy Miller remembers every experience and interaction she had at Riley during those days. Now, she’s back as director of patient and family experience.

Sitting in the lobby by the glass elevators, Tracy Miller can drift off to another time – a time when she sat in this exact same spot scared, anxious and not sure of what was to come.

The year was 2005 and her 6-year-old daughter Elizabeth had started walking oddly; her gait was off. Three days later, tests revealed a brain tumor.

Surgeons at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health immediately removed Elizabeth’s tumor. Later, she went through 70 weeks of chemotherapy, coming to Riley every Thursday for treatment.

Miller remembers many hours spent sitting in this lobby (the Simon Family Tower wasn’t built, yet). She remembers the teddy bears hanging about. She remembers Elizabeth getting to meet racecar driver Danica Patrick in this lobby. 

And she remembers exactly what each and every experience and interaction she had at the hospital was like. So, it makes perfect sense that Miller is back at Riley, now as director of patient and family experience.

And she’s back with a positive outcome. Elizabeth, now 19, is doing great and attends Purdue University.

Miller sees this job as another way to give back to the hospital that did so much for her family.


Besides being a Riley mom, Miller has the ideal career background for her new position.

She spent more than 20 years in strategic marketing, working for Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies like Nabisco and Heinz. She had her own consulting business, as well.

Miller knows how to position brands and make the consumer experience better. Now, instead of crackers and ketchup, she is doing it for patients and families at Riley.

“In healthcare, it’s really just responding to consumer insights,” she says. “What are they telling you? And then turning it into actionable changes.”

Within days of taking the job, Miller figured out exactly what Riley was doing well.

“Our families are really pleased with the attitude of the staff and the caring aspect. They feel like they are treated with courtesy and respect,” Miller says. “They feel like their clinicians are experts and they know their stuff, which they do.”

Miller is weeding through patient and family response and feedback, looking for areas of focus and needs at Riley.

“That feedback is a gift and so what we do with that gift is key,” she says.

Recently, Miller received a comment from a mom who had taken her child to the emergency department. While she was given great care, that mom said, should she have been in a crisis situation and panicked, she wouldn’t have been able to find the ED.

Miller took that comment and, first, walked the ED area herself. She noticed signage could be better marked, placed higher up and, perhaps, use icons versus words. She then passed the feedback on to leaders in the ED. 

“I am here at Riley to help spread the ‘voice of the customer,’ which, in our case, are families,” she says. “My goal is to share broadly their feedback, which is a gift, with our team members. My role is to promote what our patient families are telling us is important to them and how we can best meet their needs.”

More with Miller

Personal: Miller is married to Andy and has three children, Elizabeth, Drew and Grace.

IU Health career: Miller started as a system brand manager with IU Health in 2010. She worked in that role for three years, helping with the rebrand from Clarian to IU Health. The next five years, she worked at IU Health North in the philanthropy group before coming to Riley in January.

Giving back: Through the years, Miller and her family have been actively involved in fundraising and giving back to Riley. Elizabeth is involved in the Riley Dance Marathon at Purdue and is co-chair of a committee to recruit dancers. Miller is a founding member of Women for Riley.

Miller’s call for help: Riley needs volunteers. Individuals must be 18 and older. If interested, they can email volunteer coordinator Susan Schwarz at sschwarz@iuhealth.org.

-- By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Benbow via email dbenbow@iuhealth.org or on Twitter @danabenbow.

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