The following Coach Leader is part of our ongoing series based on the characters created in my book, Heroes Need Not Apply, “How to build a Patient-Accountable Culture without putting more on your plate.” The book shows how focusing on what matters most to patients, having the right mind-set and a common direction can bring people together to ignite an entire organization.
When we last left Angels of Seattle, CEO Jane Carolli and VPMA Dr. Jack Martin, they were continuing to craft a strategy to improve their culture by developing a cultural tool to help drive change.
As they build the tool, the day-to-day issues of running a hospital couldn’t be put on the back burner. Our current issue finds the two coming out of a board meeting…
Walking down the hall, Jane spoke first, “Jeez Jack. I was prepared to talk about our new insights on improving our culture, but everyone wanted to talk growing revenue and the brand research.”
“I hear you Jane, but I get it.”
Jane shot back, “I do too, but we just spent 45 minutes listening to a marketing consultant school us about growing brand equity - don’t they realize that this culture must be the basis of improving our brand in this community… to shaping how our patients and potential… I hate to use this word… customers think of us?
Jack smiled, “ It makes sense to me Jane… and we need customers. Have you looked at the advertising lately? We do a great job focusing on state of the art equipment, new surgical techniques, awards and new OB suites… when we should be selling the state of the art experience our people provide. Sometimes it feels like our industry takes the ultimate human experience and reduces beneath a transaction into a commodity.”
“I know” said Jane, “It is interesting…here we are in the most human of industries and our marketing mailers look like they come from a lawn care company… not too emotional. We’re not going to build lasting relationships with patients if we don’t put the value of their experience first. It seems like the only way to truly differentiate ourselves from other systems is to focus on the quality of each and every interaction we have with patients.”
“You nailed it Jane. It would be interesting to ask patients what matters most to them and build a marketing campaign around that. Do we really think we’re going to build trust in this community by touting national awards? Patients I talk to already expect clinical proficiency…what they really want to hear is that our physicians are going to be accessible when their family has a question, that their care team takes time to huddle on their behalf, and that everyone in this new finely decorated building is easy to approach.”
“You know Jack,” said Jane, “ Everything we’ve been doing with our cultural strategy - especially crafting this assessment tool, is all about helping us build better relationships with patients. There are no short cuts when it comes to building a trusted brand. It must flow from focusing on the human factors that matter most to patients in our community.”
Jack smiled. “Let’s get back to your office and talk about the next couple of assessment questions - lets write a couple that ask just how accessible our care teams are around here… “
“And maybe one about how approachable they are…”
The board’s concerns at Angels of Seattle is far from unique. But as Jane explained, their concern about the bottom line is connected at the hip with having a trusted culture that’s accountable to what matters most to patients. And one of the first things you can do to promote moving in that direction is to start having the same discussion Jack and Jane just had. We all have to look at how we interact with each other and our patients more closely. What do your patients value?
See you next time.
Is your culture aligned to what matters most to patients?...