More than a mantra
How healthcare providers can develop a culture of service
“Happy people beget good experiences.”
That’s one of the primary conclusions of the latest patient experience benchmarking report from the Beryl Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on improving the patient experience. For the study, “The State of Patient Experience 2017,” Beryl also surveyed more than 1,000 clinicians, middle managers and executives of hospitals and health systems across the United States, asking them to list their top three priorities for the next three years.
With healthcare awash in consolidation and increased competition for patients, it’s not surprising that quality, safety and service sat at the top of their list of concerns; after all, healthcare today is a consumer-focused, retail business and, as a result, the biggest market share often goes to the provider with the most polished or convenient product. Even more, Beryl researchers identified what it deemed the “most significant discovery” of its latest research: the rapid rise in recent years of engaging employees on the patient experience and, most importantly, deploying strategies for them to address patient concerns.
This sharp uptick in employee engagement, the researchers concluded, likely reveals an underlying culture shift at many hospitals and health systems towards “addressing the delivery of care as central to addressing the experience of those receiving it.” That said, changing an organization’s culture is easier said than done. In a June 2018 Chilmark report, one chief experience officer went so far as to characterize the challenges of retooling a healthcare provider’s culture around the customer experience as “slow pick-and-shovel work.”
Is your organization ready to start swinging the ax? If so, these are the first three steps to implementing cultural change within a healthcare organization, according to an October 2018 Harvard Business Review essay:
- Understand why staff think proposed changes are inconsistent with the status quo.
- Support the new policies with data detailing the urgent issues and how these efforts will fix them.
- Decide what behaviors will be OK — and what will not be.
Another engagement strategy for shifting an organization’s culture is by implementing service recovery. Pioneered by the travel and tourism industry decades ago, the practice means stepping in to address an issue or concern in real time. Often times, patients and their families who are encountering a stressful healthcare situation only want to be heard, and service recovery is a way for providers to engage them directly while attempting to meet their expectations.
Still, many providers don’t know where to start; they lack either the ability to identify customer service needs or they don’t have the right mechanisms in place to take real-time corrective actions — or both. In either case, here’s how providers can start the feedback loop:
- Set a goal: What is your organization trying to achieve, e.g., higher volume or better customer satisfaction scores? Identifying the goal will help your team pick the right technology tools or manual processes for achieving the desired result.
- Pick the right tools: There’s a variety of technology applications and strategies for gathering consumer data, so it’s critical to select the right one for the specific organization.
- Commit to seeing it through: Continuous improvement should be made a priority once the service recovery feedback loop is operational. Similarly, facilities should have a plan that emphasizes the following five service recovery best practices: listen, offer a blameless apology, offer to help, follow through and keep it professional.
Interested in learning more about how service recovery can help shift the culture at your organization? Let’s talk. Based in New York, Quality Reviews, Inc., was founded by leading healthcare providers and entrepreneurs with a combined 30-plus years of clinical, healthcare administrative and technology building experience. We help healthcare provider organizations capture and analyze real-time patient feedback to facilitate service recovery.
With hospitals today operating on the narrowest of margins, losing even one patient over poor customer service is too many. Complicating matters, most healthcare organizations still use traditional surveys to track and monitor patient satisfaction metrics, putting them at a considerable disadvantage in terms of identifying service recovery opportunities.
We make it easy for patients to provide real-time feedback — and even easier for healthcare leaders to improve service based on this feedback. Utilizing real-time feedback, our service recovery and daily performance improvement tools help shift the focus onto the patient and promote a culture of service excellence.