Excuses are a funny thing when it comes to patient satisfaction scores. I never hear anyone lambasting the tool, the methodology, or the validity when the scores are in their favor. Yet, those who fall below their own expectations have a litany of excuses. I could write an entire book on the excuses I’ve heard.
What I’ve learned about excuses is that the more people shell out and discuss the excuses, the more they start to make sense to everyone involved. Excuses will take root and flourish if you let them. So the challenge is to be aware of people slipping into excuse mode and then to dispute their logic.
It’s particularly important for leaders to challenge excuses because they can prevent you from achieving the desired culture. I’ve seen people rally everyone around a seemingly feasible explanation like, “Our patients are sicker than others in the database.” Or, “We have a lot of drug-seekers.” Accepting these excuses as truth can fuel a victim or defeatist attitude. When that happens, your team may stop trying their best because, after all, they’re dealing with tougher than usual circumstances and there’s nothing they can do about it.
Excuses about the patient experience (when widely accepted in your culture) give everyone a “pass” because, after all, there’s nothing that can be done. To quote one of healthcare’s greatest leaders, Florence Nightingale:
“I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse.”