Nearly every day I have the pleasure of talking with healthcare leaders about their patient experience improvement efforts. I see a huge amount of effort going into implementing best practices, but when it comes to measuring results, I’m still surprised to see them solely focusing on HCAHPS or CG-CAHPS scores. Of course those are important metrics, but they are lagging indicators. Frontline staff who are putting in the effort need to know that their hard work is having an impact. We can all benefit from feedback, so it’s important to have leading indicators as well as lagging indicators.
Imagine going on a diet to lose weight. You are committed to following the diet and exercise plan but are not allowed to weigh yourself for six months. Sure, you may feel your pants getting looser, but you have no solid information about how many pounds you’ve lost. Without this feedback you may lose interest and your commitment wavers. The scale is immediate and tangible feedback on your efforts.
When working on improving the patient experience, find incremental measures of success so that you can celebrate along the journey.
I was working with some nursing units in a large hospital that had poor HCAHPS scores on responsiveness. The nurses re-committed to hourly rounds and were highly motivated to make a difference. They knew that they needed more real time evidence of their efforts so we came up with additional metrics that would indicate that hourly rounds were having an impact on the patient experience. They decided to measure the number of call lights per shift and compare it to their baseline. That way they could report the data in daily huddles. This gave them tangible evidence that their hourly rounds were reducing call lights. They also felt that anecdotal comments would be useful in measuring the impact. Both the staff and manager shared patient comments about responsiveness during huddles as well. Sharing successes provided them with immediate feedback and encouraged them to keep up the hard work.