Blog #3 on Culture: A culture of Service Delivery in every corner of our Profession
Updated: Jun 28
In my previous two blogs on culture, I have discussed why culture is so important for leadership to focus on. Simple ways to begin the process of changing culture to reflect new realities are being driven by several variables. They include the nature of work and the expectations that come with the younger workforce. I have suggested the younger workforce is looking for more engagement, flexibility, recognition and the ability to contribute. The focus is on helping the colleague appreciate what the organization is prepared to do for them, as opposed to the traditional "what can I do for the organization". That's a tough one to grapple with for baby boomers. We often stayed with the same company for many years, contributing as best we could and getting a pension and perhaps a gold watch when finished!
Let me go out on a limb here. One of the casualties of these changes, particularly in healthcare, is service. This is important in Healthcare because most of us are unable to make immediate judgements on the quality of care we are receiving, but to be sure, we make judgements about the service surrounding that care.
SOME EXAMPLES OF SERVICE FAILURES:
> 'YOUR CALL IS IMPORTANT TO US. ALL OF OUR REPRESENTATIVES ARE BUSY RIGHT NOW. YOU ARE NUMBER 9 IN OUR LIST AND WE WILL GET TO YOUR CALL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.... IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEAVE A VOICE MESSAGE, PRESS 2 AND WE WILL GET BACK TO YOU AS SOON AS POSSIBLE'
> 'OUR PRACTICE IS CLOSED TO NEW PATIENTS RIGHT NOW. OUR NEXT AVAILABLE APPOINTMENT IS' (SEVERAL MONTHS OUT).
>'WE HAVE A CENTRALIZED SCHEDULING PROCESS AND ASK THAT YOU HAVE YOUR PHYSICIAN SEND HER ORDER THE THE FOLLOWING FAX NUMBER . WE WILL THEN CALL YOU AND SCHEDULE YOUR TEST'.
These are just some of the examples that I hear from my clients on the deterioration of service in our profession. We often make these changes in service in the interest of more efficiency and productivity. Both probably occur, but what about the number of potential patients that we loose or anger in the process?
As we travel the halls of the hospital or physician's office, we can find more evidence of deteriorating service levels. Especially for the elderly. We are caught int the transition to a digital world. Pre-registration is often required giving several sources the same information. Scheduling a routine appointment is often automated. When we do finally get to our appointment, the provider is as handcuffed as we are by the computer. Have you spent time in your Drs. office with the nurse and the doctor spending as much time looking at a screen as you?
WHAT CAN WE DO TO MITIGATE SOME OF THESE ANNOYANCES? The concept of Service Delivery Standards.
Earlier in my career, I was hired as the Vice President of Operations and was given the opportunity to fix a seriously broken service culture. The process we went through was simple, but had some vital steps. They were:
Dialogue with front line managers and staff. Find out their thoughts about service and what would be needed to improve it.
En-power the team to make changes and give them some resources if needed.
Require 3 things from each and every team or sub-group:
a. That each team identify, decide and document who their customers are.
b. Discover (by asking) the 3-5 most important things to that group of customers. Some teams involve patient focus groups to accomplish this.
c. Turn those his is somewhat facetious: Go ahead and spend a lot of time cleaning up after poor service and losing the loyalty of your patients.
It is as simple as one of my heroes, John Wooden famously said. "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"