Is the system of patient feedback and caregiver engagement stuck in the horse-and-buggy era?

In 2014 are we using a horse-and-buggy system of caregiver team engagement and patient feedback?

Is it possible that living in the most highly connected, wired and always-on world, we persist with processes and business customs that were “current” at the turn of the last century?  (no, we mean 1900 not 2000). 

Those were the days when feedback and communication flew at the speed of horses or trains (feedback in weeks or months via letter and courier).  With secure mobility, real-time feedback and instantaneous results a reality (and not Dick Tracy or Flash Gordon-style fantasy), why would we ask less of ourselves in the most important industry and processes of all—keeping our loved ones healthy.

Geoffrey Moore used the term “Systems of engagement” to describe how employees communicate with one another, which he believes is driven by technology in new ways. Gary Hamel suggested that the industrial age has reached its limits of improvement. What does this mean for nursing and other healthcare leaders?

Just listen to several recent real-life discussions at a major hospital nursing counsel and with their executive team, on driving real improvement in engagement and quality:

Nursing Individual Contributor
“I don’t get to spend enough time with top leaders.  The organization has grown so large that I no longer have the access I had, and I feel I can’t share my big ideas about ways to improve.”

Nursing Unit Manager
“We have employee engagement surveys, but they’re too infrequent, the information is dated and the working groups change by the time we can see the results.  We want to work on “continual improvement” but our information won’t support this.  We’re stuck. “

Nursing Individual Contributor 2
“Why do we have to have infrequent surveys that have stale questions?  Why can’t we collaborate on the questions, conduct shorter surveys more often, and use technology more effectively?”
-And elsewhere in the healthcare organization:

Chief Patient Experience Officer:
“I want to know right away when my patients are thrilled and when they are angry, not two or three weeks later or months later when feedback trickles in via email or paper. And I can’t easily tie the response to a caregiver shift or team or set of circumstances.  There’s no context.  It’s very frustrating not to be able to address issues when they first pop up, and are simple to fix with a few adjustments or quick communications.”

“I can’t see what’s happening in real time below the first level of my management team.  I need something that gives me a daily pulse, both in patient feedback and in caregiver team engagement”
What are some of the take-aways from these discussions?
a)  Caregiver teams, managers and patients have a common interest in driving better quality, better employee engagement and better methods of feedback. They have just not had the tools to manage this process in real time (always “looking in the rear view mirror”) with a unified view of all factors.
b)  All parties recognize the value of more current, (optimally something closer to real-time) information to drive continual improvement efforts
c)  It is widely recognized that the current feedback “systems” are broken, outdated and provide stale and relatively non-actionable data.  Universal recognition that today’s feedback systems suffer from the “Yelp” effect (extremes), and at any rate are out-of-date and disjointed – all “looking in the rear view mirror.”
d)  Patient feedback coupled with caregiver team engagement level (in real time) is the last missing factor in service quality assurance in healthcare.  Until now, there has been no simple and “fun” solution to this vexing issue.  Everybody wants it—patients, caregiver teams, healthcare organizations and payers.  Now it is here.

It’s not all bad news.

WorkersCount real-time Patient feedback and caregiver team engagement services
What we call “the daily pulse of healthcare service quality and engagement” and WorkersCount is inside these meetings with daily feedback from caregiver teams and patients, using mobile technology and friendly, simple check-in style behavior.  Our real-time services including NursesCount, PatientCount, and others, provide this “daily pulse” that leadership is using to manage looking forward, not backwards, to drive and sustain quality and engagement excellence and world-class service.

Look out Geoffrey Moore, we’re about to leverage small technology (phones and tablets) to drive big changes in the “systems of engagement” across caregiver teams, managers and patients in real-time.  It’s about time we started acting like it’s 2014 and not 1914.  Fossils?  No more.
And for Gary Hamel and having reached the limits of the industrial age’s improvements?  We think he is spot-on.  We’re moving on to what’s possible with the tools and behavioral customs in our new digital and mobile age.  Lots of room here. 
More like a wide open road.
What do you think?

If you would like to discuss this further, come join us in our LinkedIn group and exchange ideas and experiences with others working to improve the patient experience and overall healthcare industry.