Creating a Moment of Truth

March 16, 2015 in Best of Both, healthcare, leadership, management

Welcome back to Management Mondays!  Patient Loyalty Creating a Moment of Truth equals Patient Satisfaction.

As managers today we are faced with many complex obstacles to providing healthcare services such as Medicare and Medicaid cuts always looming on the horizon, ICD-10 coming fast and furious, the ever-increasing regulatory demands, and staffing shortages just to name a few.  There’s always something. Even with all of these issues we still must ensure that our most important resource is protected – our patients.  Without them we can’t provide any of our services.  We must make sure they are satisfied and will be willing to come back for more, so building a loyal customer base is yet another challenge we must try to accomplish.

In today’s healthcare environment, there are about as many ways to describe patient satisfaction as there are tools to achieve patient satisfaction.  Some of the more familiar customer service buzz words are service excellence, the moment of truth, wowing the patients, delightful patient experiences, great first impressions, striving for five.  The list is endless.

In the book written by Fred Lee, If Disney Ran Your Hospital, 9 ½ Things You Would Do Differently, he describes an experience he had through story telling.  Lee relates in his book that during a trip he stayed at a national chain hotel and as he was walking to his car discovered a note on his windshield that said  “Have a good day. Windows on us! Maintenance Department.”   He looked around at the other cars in the lot and they all these business cards too.  He describes this as a “Moment of Truth” an experience beyond what is expected.  This made a great impression upon him, he was wowed.  And going forward this particular hotel chain was his first choice each time he traveled.

The $64,000 question, for those old enough to remember is how do we create moments of truth in our own facilities?  Believe or not, they happen every day.  We need to recognize when they happen and tell our own stories.  As leaders we must share them and repeat them so others have similar experiences.

My Mom was in for arthroscopic knee surgery a while back at my hospital as a day surgery patient.  Being that she is my mother she happens to be an exceptionally savvy and educated patient, due to our extensive healthcare related conversations.  She knows I am very involved in providing service excellence in our organization and we are actively rounding in all areas of the hospital to interview patients as well as observe our staff members providing care.

So coming in she already had a preconceived idea of what to expect and how things should proceed.   Technically everyone did what they were supposed to do, used the correct patient identifiers to ensure the correct site surgery, time outs were performed appropriately, the essential equipment was available, all those staff members that participated in the admission were technically competent and did their jobs well according to the patient. So is she satisfied?  You bet—she woke up from the anesthesia, the surgery was a success and she would soon be going home to recuperate.  However that is what she expected. More importantly was she wowed.

photo credit: Morguefile.com

Yes and it happened when a nurse in the recovery room spoke to her about how good a cup of coffee would taste after being NPO for so long.  So this nurse created a moment of truth by simply brewing a fresh pot of coffee and giving it to her they way she liked it.

This small act is what my Mom talked about when asked about her stay.  Of course we let the nurse know what an impact she made, as well as the nurse manager of the recovery room unit.

photo credit: Morguefile.com

We have numerous opportunities each day to make a memory for someone.  It’s finding these chances and exploiting them in a positive fashion that can make all the difference.  During our service excellence rounds, I have heard many patients’ stories about how an employee has touched their life or the life of a family member that they will never forget.  Last week I met the brother of a patient, he was coming to visit his sister everyday.  He related that his older brother was here last year and finally succumbed to his illness after three long months.  During that time, he said one of nurses saw him in a local market and expressed her sympathy and hugged him.  He said that would always stay with him.

photo credit: Morguefile.com

Another patient related her own story that she was so cranky, grumpy and sore that she knew she was being a difficult patient.  She explained that she was also very hungry and her lunch had just arrived, but she was being shipped off to x-ray.  I braced myself, but she surprised me when she stated that it didn’t stop our tech from being a “ray of sunshine”, keeping up a light hearted banter making the test seem to go quickly.  The real moment of truth arrived when the tech who knew about the waiting lunch tray transported the patient back to her room without delay, rather than calling a transporter and making the patient wait.

It’s the little things that make a big difference.  In the end the patients won’t remember the exact words you spoke, or what you did to obtain that view or scan, but they will always remember how you made them feel.  So strive to help your staff create those moments and memories for your patients-so they keep coming back.

Creating a Moment of Truth equals patient satisfaction and customer loyalty please share how you’ve done this at your workplace?