For years now, I’ve had the honor of working with healthcare organizations in shifting and aligning their cultures to be more patient and family centered. It’s no secret that in order to be successful, we need to start with the inside and work our way out. The process can be slow. It may feel even more painfully slow when there’s pressure for immediate HCAHPS improvement. But remember; you didn’t shape the existing culture in a month so don’t expect to permanently change it in a week.
I was recently visiting with one of my clients who is exuberant about the changes he’s seeing. He admitted, “I was getting tired out, waiting to see the change, but now it’s hitting and look out!” He went on to tell story after story of what he was learning on his rounds and how staff were seeking him out to share successes. Incidentally, one year ago, staff would duck and cover when he made rounds. When he’d ask for updates, all he’d hear was complaints. But instead of giving up, he kept going and sending the message that when they spoke, he listened, and took action. The rounds, in addition to other leadership behaviors, were pivotal in setting the stage for change.
What I’ve learned about creating a patient-centered environment parallels the classic story of the tortoise and the hare. You can rush in with tons of tactics that you’ve heard have worked for others then sit back on your laurels [think hare], or recognize that, like the tortoise, slow and steady wins the race.