What does it take to bring about change in an organization? With the importance of reimbursement and HCAHAPS, we know healthcare executives are placing a greater amount of attention on patient satisfaction. While acknowledging the need for improvement is half the battle, bringing about an actual change is quite another. In the 2013 HealthLeaders Media Survey, healthcare executives ranked patient experience as their number one priority, with the goal of improving the experience being to improve upon HCAHAPS scores.
After reading the Health Leaders article, “New Approaches to Patient Experience” my greatest takeaway was a line relating to healthcare executives and the acknowledgement of a need for improvement in the patient experience. Kevin Gwin, VP of Communications for Ardent Health Services stated, “If our hospital leadership interacts with patients and they hear complaints, they act immediately, but for some reason, when it’s on paper or it’s on your computer screen, it becomes a little less real.”
Improving the patient experience and overall satisfaction cannot be done by simply acknowledging there needs to be more done. Leaders and executives must believe in the change they preach and get their hands dirty along the way. Employee buy in and increased engagement is necessary for staff members to jump on board and work toward meeting the ideals put forth by upper management. If staff members merely feel they are being told to “nicen up” they are much less likely to do so than they would be if leaders appeared in the battlefield alongside them and put an effort in themselves to truly improve the way patients feel about the levels of care and customer service being provided.
Change will first have to be created at an individual employee level, the team and healthcare system as a whole cannot improve customer service unless everyone is on board with the idea of improvement. Once individuals embrace a need for change, a culture shift will then follow. When leaders can sense a shift in culture, this is when true change can begin. Leaders must ensure employees do not feel as though they work for the company, but rather are the company.
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