We’ve all heard the adage, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” But let’s place a respectable amount of importance on the last impression as well. The last impression should be a fond farewell that leaves the patient with a sense of clarity, security and overall good feelings about the organization.
I was working with a long term acute care hospital where patients stayed for months. With that length of stay, the patients and staff bonded, becoming like family after a while. When it was time for a patient to leave, the staff would line the halls to say goodbye and wish them well. They would applaud and wave as the patient was wheeled down the hallway and out the door. This was a heartwarming event for both staff and patients.
Compare that to one of the most common service debacles in hospitals – the delayed discharge. Families are waiting, bags are packed, the patient has been dressed and ready for hours but the doctor hasn’t written the orders. All plans come to a screeching halt. And after days of impeccable care and positive experiences, this becomes the last memory the patient and family have about their hospital stay. Worst of all, it’s preventable.
Discharge plans begin at the time of admission and yet, poor processes create the last minute scramble and resulting chaos. Organizations that prioritize discharge as an integral part of the patient experience have mastered the process with the goal of making the last impression a good one.
What are you doing to create a fond farewell and a lasting last impression?