Hospital and other healthcare leaders have put the focus on service front and center, as quality and patient experience have become the two major drivers for census, revenue and customer loyalty.
Many hospitals have increased focus on a myriad of training activities around service improvement. Organizations have proudly pointed to the fact that their entire organization was trained on XYZ approach to customer service.
However, the training was, many times, a one-time event of smile lessons that had occurred at some point in the past — sometimes the distant past. There was no effort on how existing employees would be provided with service booster shots, or ‘revalidas’ over time.
Another issue: the training was generic. In healthcare, different units require different types of training to serve customers. Sometimes those customers are patients, sometimes they are family, sometimes they are just people in the market for a lower cost procedure.
There were no metrics to measure effectiveness of the training. Once concluded, it was assumed that employees would simply go forth and provide good service.
Because it was a one-time-big-time deal, there was no sustainability. Training is important. But to sustain behavior changes, managers and supervisors must also have the tools for coaching, mentoring and modeling for service behaviors.
Further, only administrative front liners were provided training for service. The assumption was that clinicians and medical staff were providing the service of healing, the very purpose of why patients went to hospitals. This is a misleading assumption.
Quality accreditation organizations such as Joint Commission International, and other global and local quality accreditation bodies such as ISO have put metrics behind the methods that hospitals use to enhance their patient satisfaction scores, highlighting the importance of ensuring great care, every time at every point of encounter. Patients measure their experience not based on the same types of clinical measures that hospitals or clinics use. Rather, they define quality on more qualitative assessments that tend to be related to their interactions at every point in the care process, like a cold meal.
Effective health leaders must set clear expectations and put in place methods to monitor whether those expectations are being met through an integrated and ongoing process to measure, analyze, adjust and monitor what drives patient satisfaction and loyalty. When all workers in the organization focus on providing quality care for those they serve, success inevitably follows.
Great physicians, nurses, technologists and staff are only part of the equation. Talented staff members are necessary but not sufficient for the success of a healthcare or business enterprise. Talent without collaboration produces limited results. Overall success is a result of organization-wide collaboration that is driven by leaders with a shared vision of unyielding excellence in clinical quality and patient experience.
The greatest measure of success, however, will be the degree to which compassionate care matches or exceeds the quality of the clinical outcomes, and a continued adherence to “making the best better” — from administrative offices to operating rooms to teaching settings.
With over thirty years of experience in patient care, healthcare marketing, business development and administration, Marilen Tronqued-Lagniton is also a Certified Lead Auditor for ISO 9001:2015. She earned a MBA for Healthcare Administrators at the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA; certificate for Patient Safety Officer Course, Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI, Cambridge MA); certificate for Advanced Leadership Course, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University (Evanston, IL).