In our quest for creating the ideal healthcare organization, we compiled a set of ten questions that can serve as benchmarks. Simply by asking such questions, all healthcare workers can contribute to improving the system.
The first question on our list is “Are we providing patients with all and the right kind of healthcare they need?” Data on this topic is partially collected via HCAHPS, the federally mandated patient review system. But of course the patient viewpoint, however important is not the whole story.
Patients may not always understand what care is actually best for them and may be guided by subjective considerations such as the presence of television sets. Empowering and educating patients so that they can have informed participation is important and clearly, if they are dissatisfied, there is a problem that needs to be corrected; still, even a high satisfaction score does not provide a “yes” answer to the question just put.
Two obvious groups who have insight on this matter are doctors and nurses, and those evaluating medical care should be considering their views as well those of patients. Indeed, anyone in the healthcare environment – administrators, orderlies, food service workers, chaplains, visitors and so on – have observations and opinions that ought to be captured in answering such an inquiry.
Any organization that wants to be excellent, ideal, in line with the times, or successful in today’s environment needs to strive for continuous improvement. This is not a matter of just systems and processes: there must be a goal of continuous development of the organizational culture. In healthcare, improvements in respect, teamwork, and compassion, for example, are just as important as advancements in technology and treatments.
For there to be such improvement, everyone in the organization needs to be committed and to have their input solicited. Asking everyone to answer this question is thus a good way to promote that process.
No matter where you are in the organization, you can ask the question and act on the answers you get. Of course if you are a patient advocate, chief patient satisfaction officer or the line, this subject is “in your job description”. But even so you need to consider perspectives besides those of patients.
If you are a CEO, you can create a team to consider it. The team can use HCAHPS but also conduct further and more far reaching surveys, do research, and encourage ongoing discussion on how well patients are being treated.
Or if your role is that of, say, a nursing manager or another supervisory position, you can promote discussion on this question at unit meetings. You can consider your own unit’s effectiveness as well as overall organizational issues.
Should you be “staff” – doctor, nurse, technical, attendant, cafeteria worker, or whatever – you can still ask the question in your interactions with coworkers and patients and bring it up at whatever meetings you attend. Indeed, why not take the initiative and start a discussion group or study circle on the topic – just post a notice on a bulletin board and form your team!
Patients probably aren’t reading this blog (though of course many readers have been or will be healthcare patients). But besides answering HCAHPS questions, they might well want to discuss this question with other patients and with caregivers.
Everyone agrees that our healthcare system need systemic change. Such change will occur if and only if all those in the system demand it and act to bring it about. One way to initiate such movement would be for all of us to continually and consciously raise this number one discussion question, to be reflect on the answers and ideas it generates, and to act accordingly for productive improvement.
–Jim Murphy has a solo consulting practice called Management 3000, focusing on organizational development and change management. Formerly he led the Massachusetts Bay Organizational Development Learning Group, was Human Resources Director for the City of Boston Assessing Department, and served as a consultant with the Boston Management Consortium. His consulting practice includes management coaching as well as research and writing on employee relationships, leadership, healthcare and collaborative practices. Having produced newsletters for several organizations and being a frequent content writer for the”Confident Voices in Healthcare” blog, he is interested in writing and research opportunities, as well as consulting and coaching. www.manage2001.com email@example.com