Most of the clinics I work with or visit share the fact that they do everything for their patients, and that their main goal is to make sure their patients are happy. However do we know how we could create an experience that makes our patients happy and turn them into loyal patients? I strongly believe to achieve this, great leadership is necessary in driving a patient focused culture. Your culture is made up by your people. Do they know what needs to be done? Do they know how to do it and more importantly do they want to do it? This can be achieved if your staff’s behaviour is guided by the right protocols and processes and in the right setting:
There are a few but key essential leadership elements we have identified that you can apply with your staff in order to create the Patient Experience Culture:
HIRE FOR THE RIGHT REASON:
One of the biggest arguments about hiring practices when it comes to achieving the desired culture is hiring reasons, whether to hire people because of their skills or because of their attitude. Which is more important and takes presidency over the other between the two? It is understandable that you want to have skilled and competent staff members, be it regarding clinical care or patient support team members.
My argument is that skills are something that can be taught however with attitude it is nearly impossible to change. It either you have the right attitude or you don’t, you cannot teach somebody to be more caring, empathetic or compassionate. These traits are what you need to give particular focus and attention to during the hiring process. One way of making it easier for yourself to identify these traits would be through the use of behaviour based interviews during the recruitment process.
INTRODUCING YOUR CULTURE TO YOUR NEW EMPLOYEES
One of the things we often see with managers is the on-boarding and inducting of new employees into the organisation which they do through showing them around, introducing them to the rest of the team and sharing the business’ vision, values and mission. However in some cases once employees start working full time and are embedded into the organisation they realise that the reality of the organisation and culture is different to what had been previously presented to them. This reality shock makes them question their trust in the management’s abilities as well as wonder what else might not be as previously presented. That is why it is critical and imperative that management create an open and honest environment where providing both positive and constructive feedback is the norm and they model behaviour that enables for a Patient focused culture.
How is your on-boarding process? How long do you spend on Patient Experience Education in your healthcare organization? What on-boarding training do you provide to your team members?
STRUCTURE – SETTING
So now you have hired the right candidate with the right attitude and you have trained them well on the expected behaviour for your Patient focused culture. The next question to address should be do you have the right operational process in place to support your Patient focused culture? I still come across clinics where they are still grappling with making operational decisions for example clinic opening times, these seeming to be more driven by the staff’s availability and convenience. This is an example of how sometimes clinical processes do not give enough thought to patient involvement and focus on element including the importance of communication strategies, particularly how they are non-existent here. It is important that when you are designing your processes, protocols you keep in mind the ultimate goal. That goal being to not only meet the expectations of your patients but exceed if possible.
Last but not least is the setting, it is important to be able to create the right ambiance for your patients through the healthcare facility you provide to them. You want to create a relaxing, positive and welcoming environment.
There are three key elements that will help you to achieve the right Patient Experience culture and these are your staff, your organisational structures/protocols and your setting. It is your responsibility as the manager of a healthcare facility to realise and that you need to “do the right things” in order to ultimately get the right result.