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 having a common direction can bring two people together to ignite an entire organization.
Jack knew from previous experience that he needed a strategy for improving culture. So he and Jane set about at developing a cultural assessment tool that not only took the temperature of their culture… it could be used as an ongoing tool to measure change and progress.
The first question they developed for the tool, “Does our organization’s culture make patients safer?” connected the dots between patient safety and having a safe, trusting culture. They confirmed that “Culture is no longer about the soft side of business. Without the "right" culture, the best-laid operational plans will stagnate.
Which led them to their second assessment tool question…
Jane was looking over her notes from her last meeting with Jack when he sauntered in with a couple of Tall Starbucks cups. Engrossed in thought, she barely noticed him when he said, “Earth to Jane - you look pretty deep into something… what are you thinking about?”
“Oh Hi Jack, ooh, double non-fat latte?”
Jack smiling, “Of course.”
Jane continued, “Well the conclusions we came to last time had me connecting the dots all the way around.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, when we talked about how patient safety is compromised by a lack of trust and communication between staff members, it set me to thinking about the next question on the survey, and how the patient safety conclusions relate to it.”
Jack prodded her on, “You have my attention.”
“Well, I wanted to talk about care coordination… more specifically, how does our culture contribute to improving care coordination.”
Jane hesitated, then continued, “Look, we have the best systems in place here at Angels… cutting edge EHR, checklists in place… you know the drill. But we’re still not doing a great job with handoffs, amongst other things…”
“Jane, I see what you mean by connecting the dots. Obviously, having all of these great assets and processes is great and necessary, but if we don’t have the right culture in place, the prospects of improving care coordination is dead on arrival.”
“I hear you Jack. When I was completing patient rounds the other day, I talked to a patient who was recently transferred. All her records got here in one piece, but nobody handed her off properly and the hospitalist didn’t take the time to talk with her primary care physician. She was scared to death that no one called her doctor. This internist left his phone number with a nurse two days ago. A successful handoff requires constant communication and respect.”
“You mean we need to make sure we treat people like the humans that they are, right?”
“Exactly. Doctors, nurses, therapists, pharmacists… whoever is involved needs to follow through all the way down the line.“
“You know Jane, I can’t remember the guys name, but a rocket scientist once said that it was his job to get the rocket into the air, not to worry about where it’s going to come down. That’s what we’re talking about here. We’ve got to get everyone involved with our patients to hold themselves accountable to what matters most to patients… again, they just want to trust that everyone is on the same page when it comes to their treatment.”
“It’s crazy Jack, here we are in the most human of businesses, but we don’t treat each other like humans… it’s just another transaction.”
Jack thought a minute and replied, “Jane, as long as our culture has a silo mentality, patients won’t get a better standard of care, period. We need to change the paradigm around here…”
Jane interrupted, “Exactly Jack. Because at the end of the day, with all the great systems we have in place, the only thing that will curatively change how we care for patients is improving how we work together.”
“You’re right Jane. With everything we’re in the process of doing here, job one is to start changing the mindset of the staff. We have to get people to realize that if people don’t feel safe about sharing and working together… like you said, care coordination is dead on arrival.”
See you next time.
Is your culture aligned to what matters most to patients?...