No one would argue the value of quality assurance in healthcare. It has proven to be absolutely essential in achieving high clinical standards. Because the stakes are so high it is important to be sure things are done right the first time and every time. Patient experience should be treated with the same stringent standards and validated through observation. Mystery shopping is a reliable method of validation of human behavior and environment. Yet some healthcare leaders shy away from mystery shopping because it implies spying. Let’s take away the term mystery shopping for discussion purposes and replace it with the term quality assurance assessments. Does it feel different? Perhaps.
A few weeks ago we were reporting out on a mystery shopping project where there was a high sensitivity to the term mystery shopping. Leaders preferred to call it service observations. Their culture accepted this term more. I applaud them for presenting the work in terms their team would hear and be open to.
Call it whatever you want, but the fact is that unless you do regular quality assurance checks or validation, you just won’t know how consistently everyone follows the standards. If staff know you are observing, you get the Hawthorne effect. Conversely, if the patient does the assessment, you get more objective observations of how things really happen.
Baird Group offers mystery shopping or quality assurance observations in inpatient and ambulatory settings including phone calls. For more information contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and download our free whitepaper. What you learn may just surprise you.