“The patient was cold and left alone with no blanket.”
“Everyone was personable.”
“The family was frustrated.”
“The nurse never smiled.”
“I knew he was busy but he took the time anyway, and that meant a lot to me.”
Read on, please, and you’ll see that these are some of the positive and negative comments that we share with our staff of employees, volunteers and physicians.
This transparency is contrary to what some organizations do. Some organizations, I know, want to hide negative customer comments from the world, including their own employees. That type of tactic makes it challenging for an organization to improve system-wide.
In my last blog, I discussed the importance of listening to employees to make an organization successful, especially in the healthcare profession.
I want to emphasize that it’s just as important to hear back from your customers—in the case of health care, from our patients and their family members.
Since the time when I started this blog in 2010 (this is my 211th blog), I’ve written now and then about the formal patient satisfaction survey that a private surveying firm conducts on an ongoing basis for us.
Typically, the feedback we receive through these survey shows most of our clinical efforts meet or exceed the expectations of most patients. We share survey results with all of our staff members every month. Employees in departments and work units use the results to create improvement plans for their areas.
There’s another form of customer feedback that I think is extremely important: unsolicited letters or comments that we receive from patients and their family members.
It’s just as important for our staff members to learn how they have done things well as it is for them to learn which areas they can improve in. So we share letters and comments—both positive and negative—by posting them in a standing column named “Kudos and Raspberries” on our employee intranet.
We share this information as a way to help spark our staff members’ creativity for developing ways to maintain high quality and continue to make improvements.
The following are a few examples of kudos and raspberries that we have now or have had recently posted on our intranet.
You’ll notice each comment is preceded by a quoted phrase in boldface. The phrase is taken from a toolkit, Every Person Every Time, which we provide to employees, volunteers and physicians to remind them about important aspects of customer service. (I’ll write about the toolkit in my next blog. It’s an important component of our customer service standards!).
Please note, too, that we keep confidential the identities of patients and family members whose comments and letters we share. In this spirit of confidentiality, sometimes we might summarize a comment as accurately as possible or insert “he” or “she” or other words in a letter to maintain the author’s anonymity.
Success: “Compassion and courtesy before efficiency”…
• “I had so many questions about my discharge and the doctor took the time to give me more information so that I felt comfortable before I left. I knew he was busy but he took the time anyway, and that meant a lot to me.”
Success: “Commit to excellence by owning every encounter”…
• “The lady at the registration desk took me to where I needed to go even though it was not an area where she worked. I don’t come into hospitals often, and it can be overwhelming to figure out where I need to go. I appreciated the assistance.”
• “Everyone was so personable. The man who came in to clean my room always introduced himself before he started working. It made me feel like I was not just another patient in a bed. He made me feel like a person.”
Failed: “Commit to excellence by owning every encounter”…
• Better communication was needed around scheduling. The patient waited in surgery for three hours in the prep room since the doctor was still busy elsewhere. The patient could have been more comfortable waiting in her own room. Today she was supposed to have physical therapy but again no communication about when this would happen.
• The family members were frustrated because they saw the doctor in the morning, but not since then. No one had given them the lab results yet, even though the results are in.
• The patient noted when she was left alone she was cold, with no blanket and no call light nearby. She was not sure what was wrong with her. She recalled the nurse never smiled at her.”
Such feedback is important. It helps to remind our staff members—through examples—of what they can do individually to provide quality service to our patients, family members and others. I think other organizations would benefit by sharing, too.