Each Moment Counts Patient-Centered Care that WOWs
As the product of the Baby Boomer generation; my expectation of healthcare is a little different than those of my parents. I expect to be WOW’d at every point of contact throughout my clinical experience. From scheduling an appointment to being discharged as an inpatient; my experience should leave me confident that the care received was genuine and expert AND always exceeded my expectations. Not too much to ask for? I am an informed patient with high expectations! But a huge chasm exists in the delivery of a wow experiences throughout the realm of our noble industry. There appears to be disconnects from point A to point B.
Recently I scheduled an appointment with my primary care physician. The scheduling process was uneventful with the normal challenges of agreeing on a date and time that worked for us both. I was instructed to be 15 minutes early to my scheduled appointment and as a classic example of my generation; I arrived the day of my appointment 30 minutes early. As the clock ticked past my scheduled appointment, I inquired at the desk how much more of a delay would there be? As the receptionist rolled her eyes at me her actions spoke volumes. I could almost imagine her internal, inaudible conversation, “Don’t you see how busy we are? Can’t you see we are doing our best? This isn’t a resort.”. Now granted I was not in pain, nor stricken with a tropical disease, but the point is I should have been informed.
Each interaction we make throughout our clinical journey is a moment that matters. Moments that Matter is instances when an individual comes into contact with a person or organization and an impression is formed. Words, attitudes, and behaviors impact each patient’s experience and identify three factors that patients use to judge health care quality and two specific behaviors that impact a patient’s perception of service
So the clock continued to tick and I was finally taken back to the exam room. Vitals were checked, weight, blood pressure, the routine, and the technician said, “the Dr. will be in to see you shortly.”. Being the baby Boomer that I am I needed more information so I asked, “What is shortly?”. By the time I got the question out, I was left alone in the exam room to define it for myself. Although this example is not life altering, let’s put it into the context of what “might” have occurred. There are three factors that patients use to judge health care quality the customer’s perception of service.
By identifying these factors; staff is reminded of the importance of service excellence and the importance of a consistent language and behaviors within your organization. It also heightens the level of awareness of how each person impacts customer’s perception.
Meeting expectations is good but it won’t get us the kind of loyal patients that we need in our world of healthcare today. The kind of loyal patient’s that continue to come to our organization for services that go out and tell others about their experiences. To do that we have must exceed expectations.
Now I hear the groans, patients are unreasonable, their expectations are not realistic, it’s the doctor’s fault, he needs to be on time. Sound familiar? Have you ever heard the statement that it only takes 30 seconds to form a first impression? Actually, that statement is not far from the truth. It is just human nature that we judge a person or situation from an initial look – even before we have an interaction with the person or situation. It’s called a first impression and our patients are making many, many first impressions every day. A third concept to touch on is called “cycle of service”. This is basically the patient’s total healthcare experience equals the sum of the all the experiences that the patient has on any given occasion. Let’s suppose my experience was in a hospital setting versus a physician’s office visit. The patient doesn’t see the hospital as a set of distinct departments and services but as one entity. Because of that, the perception of the care provided at every touch point of the hospital can be dependent on the experiences that the patient has with one department or one person. The alarming component is that someone may experience four or five very positive moments that matter during a visit to the hospital and only one negative interaction. What impression do they walk out the door with? That one negative perceived experience can undermine all the best intentions by the rest of the organization.
So, the bottom line is that the staff of any organization has the most influence on the patient’s experience which in turns leads to patient preference, which leads to quality of service, which leads to volume and profitability. Moments that Matter are each person’s responsibility. We choose our approach, attitude, and commitment each day. As for me, I am fine, and I love my new doctor and his team