“We need to take immediate and aggressive action to improve our patient experience, but we’ll have to wait until after the New Year.” This is an actual statement made to me by a COO in October!
One thing I know for certain is that regardless of the date on the calendar, your patients still need kind, compassionate, and attentive healthcare services. And staff need to hear a clear, consistent message from leaders that the standard cannot slump just because of the holidays.
When did healthcare start taking cues from retail? Halloween displays start in August and Christmas promotions start the day after Halloween. It seems that the moment the holiday catalogs start arriving in the mail and the stores begin displaying holiday decorations, healthcare organizations slip into holiday sabbatical thinking.
Could it be that we are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by starting the “holiday hold” on initiatives weeks or months before the actual holiday? I have to think that when leaders slide into this thinking, it sends a message to their staff that the patient experience isn’t as important in November and December as it is in the other ten months of the year.
One hospital that wanted a mystery shopping assessment got set-up and decided to wait until after the first of the year because the holidays (late October through December) wouldn’t give them an accurate reflection of the “normal” performance. That’s nearly one quarter of the year. What happened to being patient centered and focused 24/7 and 365 days of the year? Your patients have the same expectations of your organization 365 days of the year. Why not evaluate your performance on any one of the 365 days. If you’re open for business, you should be delivering the same level of quality regardless of the date.
How about sending the message to the staff that we’re digging in now, so that 2016 will be the best year ever? The patient experience never sleeps and neither should you.