Does the Squeaky Wheel get the Best Patient Experience?

Posted by Kristin Baird on November 4th, 2014 • 1 Comment »

When does the patient experience matter most? The simple answer is; when YOU are personally impacted. I can’t tell you how many times my team has encountered and reported lousy service conditions that were refuted with statements like, “That was one time.” Or “That isn’t normal.” Or my favorite, “That is an n of one.” If real life stories can’t ignite action or at least attention, what will? The truth is that when poor service happens to a VIP (however that is defined in your culture), stuff hits the fan quickly. And even though it may end with a positive outcome, the source of influence won’t go unnoticed among your staff.

A few weeks ago I was delivering the results of a culture assessment spotlighting less-than-desirable service situations. The executives literally rolled their eyes and scoffed at the information espousing the same dismissive comments cited above. Part of the same assessment revealed that the front line staff had been reporting poor service situations and nothing had been done. Yet within one week of our report, a board member was admitted to the hospital. His experience, although subpar, was nowhere near the level of what we had reported. Yet, because the board member was a VIP who talked with the CEO, swift action was taken to make necessary changes and shed light on the underlying processes.

Personally I was glad to see the team taking action. But the frontline staff was even more keenly aware that their comments and concerns were ignored until “someone that matters” spoke up.

This reminds me of the old adage that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Does it take a loud squeaky wheel to get the grease in your organization? Or is it the gold-plated squeaky wheel that gets attention? If your organization espouses patient-centeredness then attention should be given to every patient, every concern, every time regardless of status.

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Baird Consulting

One Response to “Does the Squeaky Wheel get the Best Patient Experience?”

  1. Elizabeth Krestick says:

    This is unfortunately all too common and very dismissive to the actions of front line staff that are diligent about being responsive and proactive in the face of ineffective systems. Once it hits the door of the Senior Leadership/Executive team the tenure is that none of us ‘regular’ folk have a finger on the pulse or really care. This perspective is not in sync with the true meaning and engagement of the Patient Experience Cultural renewal.


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