Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tip 7: "I can't get no satisfaction."

What does culture have to do with patient satisfaction?

Everything... According to what my clients management team concluded when their CEO asked them to determine how best to improve overall patient satisfaction. Was their diagnosis right? I congratulate them for responding to the overwhelming evidence; to improve patient satisfaction and experience, we need to stop treating the symptoms and address their root cause. If the word "culture" feels too all encompassing let me simplify their conclusion: Patient satisfaction, like most of the challenges we're dealing with, has more to do with how well we all work together than anything else.

We healthcare leaders tend to get a little nebulous when talking about culture. We're more comfortable dealing with the concrete nature of operational initiatives instead. As I shared in the last issue, J.D. Powers, Bloomberg and many others are starting to pay more attention to human factors as the root cause of most of our challenges. And regardless of how abstract modifying a culture may sound up front, having a concrete step-by-step plan that does just that, makes all the difference in the world... especially to our patients.

In our last issue, we also identified the impact physician leaders (coaches) have on improving patient value... and how a culture that emphasizes physician coaching will significantly impact care. Notice the word "culture," in the previous sentence. Teaching your physicians to leverage their coaching abilities to create more productive teamwork... teams that solve problems together... is purely relational... and a concretely teachable practice, that will significantly modify your culture.

The goal of the following tip is to help you establish a relationship between how you personally lead, your organization's leadership approach, and how it affects your culture. Because whether or not you set out daily to improve your culture, whatever you do will affect it one way or the other. The way you interact and lead has direct implications for building a patient centered culture. That's why empowering physician coaches, and instilling a practice of coaching in general, generates the teamwork and group problem solving skills necessary to create a culture that's always focused on improving patient care.

Tip 7:  "I can't get no satisfaction."

Whether you're working to improve the performance of your leadership team or patient satisfaction, it begins with understanding that your challenge is cultural, not operational.  We need to ask ourselves, "Is our culture aligned with, and based on, what matters most to patients?" or "Is it perfectly aligned to get the results we're currently experiencing?" Once we accept a cultural solution as the only sustainable solution, we then need to stop talking about transforming cultures and actually take the steps needed to affect cultural change. To do this, we must first understand the components of a patient centered culture.

As you review these three key ingredients , I ask that you consider how they could help build consensus for your leadership team (and eventually your entire workforce) when it comes to defining a healthy patient centered culture. And consider this, each of these key ingredients has implications and relevancy at the individual, team and organizational levels.

1) Role Design: Creating a patient centered culture begins with designing our roles based on what matters most to patients: TRUST.  An Organizational Role Description is the starting point to improve patient care and a prerequisite for improving team function.

2) Focus Leaders on Coaching: Coach Leaders create the conditions needed to improve patient care and trust. Each of your leaders will need to develop the one-to-one coaching skills necessary to create patient centered relationships, a prerequisite to teamwork and essential to improving organizational culture.

3) Mobilize Problem Solving Teams: To best improve patient care, leaders must focus their time on creating the conditions necessary for improved team problem solving. Improving patient care is dependent on this essential leadership skill and your organization must recognize this competency as a measure of a high performing culture.

Summary: Improving patient satisfaction and solving most of your operational challenges depend on modifying your culture based on what matters most to your patients.  By designing and leveraging your newly established role description/coaching culture, you'll have the tools and knowledge to mobilize Patient Centered Problem Solving Teams, and realize the measurable relationship between team performance and improved care.

Over the next several months, I'll be drilling down on each of these 3 key ingredients to building a patient centered culture, and sharing strategies, tactics and tools that will help you have the greatest impact on your culture

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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