Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tip 8: "But that's not my patient."


"But that's not my patient."

We've all heard that line before... and when working with a medical staff recently, it raised its ugly head again. I say "ugly head," because it immediately tells me that whoever said it is focused on his/her job description, and not their role description, which is what guides us to giving our patients what they really need.

Comments like that or "That's not my job," speak to a dire need for an organizational role description. When you're not cognizant of your organizational role, or when we fulfill our job as if that is the only thing that matters, patient care won't improve, and the idea of truly being patient centered will always remain an unattainable goal.

In my last issue, I highlighted the three ingredients required to design a patient centered culture:

  • Role Design
  • Focusing Leaders on Coaching
  • Mobilizing Problem Solving Teams

Role Design is not a new business concept, nor is it a complex solution to dealing with cultural challenges.  The most innovative consumer-facing businesses outside of healthcare focus on Role Design to improve team collaboration and performance, instead of using many of the institutional carrot and stick strategies we've historically relied on in healthcare.

In healthcare, we haven't taken the requisite steps needed to design an organizational role that informs leaders, physicians, nurses and staff on how to work together to improve patient value. Instead, we've overwhelmed ourselves with an array of initiatives that only target the symptoms of a suboptimal culture, resulting in overburdened, disengaged physicians and staff, higher operational costs, and inferior patient experience and quality. An Organizational Role Description is the starting point to improving our culture and driving a new standard for how we show up and work together. More importantly, Role Design is the cultural foundation required to make teamwork possible.

Consider how your job description sets the standard/tone and focuses us on our duties/tasks, to make us accountable for our job performance. We must be just as intentional about designing our role description.

To do this, our organizational roles must be attached to a systematic process. We have systems in place for hiring and evaluations (job description), we have checklists for safety, and process improvement, but until now, we've lacked the equivalent process needed to understand our roles (Role Description). When leaders and physician leaders adopt Role Descriptions, everything changes... beginning with improved patient care.

Tip 8:  The prerequisites to an Organizational Role Description

Before you discuss developing an Organizational Role Description with your team, let's be sure we have a consensus for what really matters most to patients.... agreeing on that is the starting point to recognizing an organizational wide role that improves care and team performance.

Surprisingly, I often discover a lack of consensus related to ideas on what constitutes quality patient centered care (or what matters most to patients). If we are going to design a culture that reduces errors and prevents harm, physicians and leaders must be able to consistently communicate what constitutes patient centered care.

Trusted CardCreating a patient centered culture requires us to help our teams/staff discover and differentiate the critical difference between Role vs. Job. Our roles based on what matters most to patients: TRUST. As I've shared before, not only are these patient values (what patients need most) but they are values highly relevant to us as physicians and leaders and more importantly reflect the conditions that must exist to deliver better care and reduce errors.

In the next issue I'll continue to share road-tested tips that will help you build consensus and help you define an Organizational Role Description that sets us on the path of team problem solving based on what matters most to patients.

Feel free to join me on Facebook to further this conversation - I'd be happy to visit with you about how you'd see your organization implement a role description.

Visit the Patient Driven Leadership Site.
Brian WongThe Coach Leader is a bi-monthly series of ready-to-use tips to assist you in developing a concrete leadership practice that has the most impact on improving patient care.  Why become a Coach Leader?
  1. Patients expect us to work as teams.
  2. Patient centered teams need a coach.
  3. Every leader has a coaching role.
It's a straightforward point of view that focuses on best utilizing your time as a leader by emphasizing your role as a coach. As a Coach Leader, you'll gain the ability to mobilize your people into patient centered problem solving teams and have the most impact on improving care.

Brian WongEveryone is looking forward to Dr. Brian Wong's upcoming book.After years consulting with hospitals across the country, Dr. Wong's unique perspective and deft storytelling takes us inside a hospital fraught with the day to day challenges Physician Leaders, Managers, and Nurses all face, and introduces cultural strategies to overcome them without adding more work to our overburdened days. Dr. Wong has created memorable, real-life characters illustrating today's most pressing challenges in a dramatic hospital setting every reader will recognize.

Billing's MT session video.For those of you who would like to learn more about our statewide Patient Driven Leadership program we will soon have the entire video uploaded to thanks to the Billing's Clinic for making this video production possible.
Visit the Coach+Leader Blog
and the Patient Driven Leadership Site.

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