Is perfectionism destroying your patient experience?

Posted by Kristin Baird on February 3rd, 2015 • No Comments »

I was at a conference a few months ago and heard Seth Godin say, “Destroy the perfect to enable the impossible.” This statement stopped me in my tracks when I applied it to the patient experience. Just imagine how that motto could change the patient experience forever if only we could get past the need for perfection!

Over the years I’ve worked with a number of teams at various hospitals and health systems. One constant among them has been their desire to improve the patient experience. In spite of this commonality, there has been vast differences in how quickly they managed to achieve their goals. Some have been able to move quickly to do what is necessary while others are paralyzed with fear. Why? Science and culture.

The healthcare industry was founded on delivery of medical services. Medicine is based on science and is risk-averse. For good reason. You can’t afford to place lives at risk for the sake of experimentation when it comes to medical treatment. Quality and safety standards are necessary for patient safety. But here’s the thing; taking a new approach to improve the patient experience isn’t the same as a clinical trial for a brain surgery technique. Lives won’t be lost when you implement a quiet zone or hold people accountable for introducing themselves. So that’s the science part. But culture plays a big role in this too.

I’ve seen teams get stuck for weeks over some of the most minor decisions. When I peel back the layers beneath their heated debates, I usually find a solid core of fear. There is a fear of making a mistake.  In many situations, this risk aversion stems from a punitive culture that demands perfection and doesn’t embrace innovation and the growth realized from experimentation.

Take an honest look at your organization and the approach to change. Is perfection getting in the way of the impossible?

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Baird Consulting


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