The educational system has been criticized for “teaching to the test” in order to improve their standardized test scores. Knowing what the students will be tested on, classroom teachers focus only on parts of the curriculum that will prepare their students to score well on the test and ultimately provide the teacher with job security and the school and the district with necessary funding.
As pressure mounts for improved patient satisfaction, some organizations are essentially teaching to the test in effort to raise CAHPS scores. It started innocently enough with healthcare workers using words like “discharge instructions” in order to keep the language consistent while reinforcing understanding that the teaching is to prepare the patient to care for himself at home. But when I hear leaders tell me that staff is expected to use the word “always” during every discussion with patients, I feel we have reduced their behavior to the car salesman who blatantly asks for a score of 5 out of 5 so he can get his bonus.
How about hiring for compassion and empathy traits, then teaching our staffs to be great communicators? If we focus on the right things, the scores will follow.