Relying on a Single Strategy
Often when we visit hospitals looking to improve patient satisfaction and experience, we hear, “This year we are going to focus on (fill in the blank)." Generally, we do not hear discussion about multiple initiatives to drive improvement. It is certainly true that there are 'low-hanging fruit' - so go grab them quickly. But don’t believe for a minute that this type of harvesting will provide significant lasting improvement, because it won’t.
There are at least 9 initiatives that all need focus and improvement. Be sure that you have an accurate picture of your total system and that you have improvements targeted in all areas. The good news is that many people in hospitals are working diligently at improving patient satisfaction. The bad news is that if you don’t improve at a rate faster than the industry, you will, at best, look like you have made no improvement at all.
"A bad system will beat a good person every time."
— Edwards Deming —
When Leadership Is Not Committed
Unfortunately, just about everyone says “it won’t work unless leadership is committed” about everything. To some significant degree, this is true and is an untamed affliction that healthcare allowed to fester with a “program of the day” approach to improvement. In fairness, the demands on leadership increase daily; and expecting significant support from leadership for deployment has become a drumbeat, whether it’s an electronic health record installation or a change of thread count on the towels. We have done the damage to ourselves.
Frontline staff and managers have grown very resistant to the “program of the day.” This eye rolling and resistance is not unreasonable. Hospital staff have seen a lot of new programs introduced, only to fail, that have never been thought through and are not sustainable over time from a resource, benefit, or cost of operation perspective.
Gaining leadership commitment for patient satisfaction and experience improvement initiatives, while not easy, is typically attainable as this issue often falls in the top five of management major concerns.
You want to get senior leadership committed and are not sure how to get started. Without significant leadership involvement, progress will certainly be slow and difficult.
Most importantly, work at gaining commitment from senior leadership to insist on the correction of systematic issues.
“If a mistake happens once it may be fault of employee. If it happens twice, it is most likely the fault of the system.”
— Ritz Carlton —
Focusing Only On The Data
The data is important on many counts. It will allow you to:
- Identify major issues quickly
- Demonstrate results
- Gain support for your efforts
But it's not about the data. Hospitals continue to view a large chunk of patient satisfaction and experience on the data. It seems we are very slow to shake off the habit acquired over the years of looking at post discharge results 4-6 weeks after discharge. While this data is certainly worth a look, it is only a scoreboard and tends to distract from deploying real-time efforts.
FOCUS ON REAL-TIME SERVICE RECOVERY AND EVERYTHING ELSE WILL FOLLOW
If you don’t have real-time service recovery design, no amount of data is going to help.
- When a patient does not understand their medication, FIX IT IN REAL TIME
- If a communication board is not current, FIX IT IN REAL TIME
- When a patient bathroom needs attention, FIX IT IN REAL TIME
- When a ceiling tile is stained, FIX IT IN REAL TIME
- When the food is unsatisfactory, FIX IT IN REAL TIME
- If an outpatient has an issue, FIX IT IN REAL TIME
- If a discharged patient needs social services support, FIX IT IN REAL TIME
- Etc., etc., etc...
"Don't dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer."
— Denis Waitley, Author and Motivational Speaker —
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