As stated above, “the lack of teamwork and communication kills.” It kills profits, it kills service quality perception, it kills staff retention, it kills clinical care quality, it kills brand value and sadly, occasionally it also kills patients.
Today’s healthcare leaders are busy--perhaps busier than they have ever been. Top leaders (including CEOs) have many competing issues, risks and challenges that keep them up at night.
They are also less likely to boomerang back into the hospital as a re-admit or worse.
While CEOs have historically put their attention on other hospital practitioners and the latest state-of-the-art tools, the group that needs more leadership and CEO attention is Nursing.
When skilled nurses, nurses-aides, and support staff are not engaged, they cannot effectively engage patients. More importantly, as numerous studies affirm: “a lack of teamwork and communications kills.”
Meanwhile, perception matters because it determines whether doctors actively use a hospital, and how many patients select those affiliated or captive physicians. In a study by Otani, Waterman, Faulkner, Boslaugh, and Dunagan (Journal of Health Management, Jan 2010), three critical items for Hospital CEOs were examined—evaluation of overall quality of service, willingness to return, and willingness to recommend. One Director of Patient Experience said “every bad patient experience costs us 5 future customers.” Healthcare enterprises are recognizing the same consumer forces at work as impact other consumer brands: more power of choice, abundance of competitors, price, service and quality, and brand reputation.
Put simply- consumers are using the same quality, price and service criteria to spend their healthcare dollars that they use in all of their important buying decisions.
The Otani study looked at the drivers of each of these factors by looking at 14,432 case studies. They concluded that the first priority for hospital improvement should be nursing and support staff.
The reasoning is that nursing and support staff are the biggest drivers of quality of care, willingness to return, and willingness to recommend.
Physicians and the exam room were much further down the list. This is not surprising given the rapid shift in care to outpatient and ambulatory, where skilled nursing and staff provide the majority of face-time treatment, consultation and overall interaction.
Top leaders need to put their attention into the people, process, and technology of nursing. According to Sue Ehinger at Parkview Hospitals “the drivers that have patients rate us as excellent are time spent with the patient, control of pain, explanation of medications, tests and communication, and overall communications about the services being provided.” Understanding the patient’s perception of care has become for Sue a priority for achieving her hospital's success.
Given the importance of the nurse in this process, it is critical to bring the discussion of nursing and support care staff engagement to the forefront. This includes the ability to commit to building new types of processes and initiatives.
What's your view?