It’s imperative that leaders set goals for the organization. We need metrics that serve as vital signs of the overall wellbeing. The problem is, many leaders set a numeric goal, and then pressure everyone (often the nursing staff) to meet those goals. In these cases, well-meaning patient experience managers hustle to help nurses to implement best practices, but nothing sticks. Why? Because the culture has still not embraced the essentials.
Think of it this way. The culture is a living breathing organism – like the human body. And, like the human body, all systems must work together to support optimal health. When one system breaks down, it places the rest of the body at risk.
Imagine a system where the CEO says, “We must hit the 90th percentile this year.” Jobs are on the line so the nursing managers are scrambling. They work with the nursing staff to implement hourly rounding, leader rounding, GREAT communication and more. At the same time, the nurses don’t have supplies they need and spend their time running around trying to secure supplies. Or they don’t have the medications needed and must personally run to the pharmacy to get what they need to serve the patient. It’s exhausting and they burn out, disengage or leave. I’ve seen it.
The patient experience is a downstream result of what is happening upstream. I ascribe to the belief that; if you’re not taking care of the patient – you had better be taking care of the ones who are taking care of the patient. And, in this case, you had better be checking in with your customers regularly to see how you are serving them. The nursing staff is the customer to Materials Management, Pharmacy and more. Consider this:
The patient needs ostomy care several times per day. The nurse only has enough supplies on the unit for one change and must leave the unit to find the missing supplies in Materials Management for two additional treatments. This causes delays in care and leaves the patient with the impression that the nurses are disorganized. This happens day after day in spite of conversations with the Materials Management director. And maybe the Materials Management director is pressured to keep inventory low to control costs. While the nurses are struggling, the Materials Management director is praised for keeping costs down. Who loses? The patient, the patient experience, and the nurse caring for the patient. This dysfunctional thinking is at the root of many organizations.
Every department must be crystal clear about who their customers are. The leaders in those areas must continually reach out to their customers to find out how their department is doing in serving them. And senior leaders must keep a finger on the pulse of these conversations. It’s the difference between lip service and real service.