Don’t drink your data through a fire hose
Q: Physicians know there is nothing worse than walking into clinic each day intent on practicing good medicine only to be told that your HCAHPS are not up to snuff. A physician I recently met shared, "I work hard for my patients. I often spend extra time with patients… and I'm not sure why my patients feel they aren't being listened to?"
Quite a common story for providers these days, reinforcing the world-view that we're data rich and insight poor. You know the story, the technically proficient doc giving it all he's got, administration hits him with 6 month old lower than expected HCAHPS, then leadership weighs in with a top-down initiative met with reluctant participation, and well… you know the rest. While there are a number of factors that should be addressed, only one solution get’s to the root of the problem.
A: I asked him to focus on the value of not just receiving feedback — but asking patients for it. Asking for feedback is not only a patient centered skill that physicians must learn to incorporate into their practice, but an essential skill for every leader looking to build influence and trust with their team.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, titled “Overcoming Feedback Phobia”, leadership experts Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman share their findings on the importance of asking for feedback.
The findings show a strong correlation between leadership ability and willingness to ask employees for feedback. Leaders who ranked in the bottom 10th percentile of asking for feedback were rated at the 15th percentile in leadership effectiveness. While those in the top 10 percent of asking for feedback were ranked in the 86th percentile for overall leadership ability. The key takeaway from their research: the more a leader asks for feedback, the higher their leadership effectiveness.
The idea is for leaders to rely less on faceless metrics and more on their own intelligence gathering skills. In doing so, physicians/leaders benefit from rapid cycle feedback for improved interactions with patients and staff and a better experience for all.
As I shared with this physician, “Don’t run out and try to capture feedback from every patient today.” It’s more important to patients and staff that we we create comfortable conditions for sharing feedback. And that may be as simple as asking a question like “Tell me what matters most to you right now?”
Tune-in next time to discover simple tactics that can help you deploy and benefit from this skill.