What are your “Never Events” in the Patient Experience?

Posted by Kristin Baird on December 10th, 2009 • No Comments »

The term, “never events” strikes fear in the hearts of anyone in health care. High quality, safe care means that certain things should never occur on our watch. The never events that we have determined in health care are all clinically based. But imagine if we could apply the same concept to customer service and the patient experience. What if reimbursement was tied to certain events? What would we identify as the &quote;never events&quote; in the patient experience? I have pondered this a bit and come up with the Baird top 10 list of “never events” in the patient experience. Could these events be happening without your knowledge? What you don’t know, could be hurting you.

Like the Letterman top 10, the Baird list goes from least offensive to most offensive.

10. point with directions instead of escorting someone to his destination.
9. take personal calls on your cell or send texts when in the presence of customers.
8. transfer a phone call without telling the caller that you are going to transfer then and to whom they are being transferred.
7. talk about your personal problems to the patient/customer
6. say, “I don’t have time”
5. say, “You’re not the only patient (customer)here. You’ll have to wait your turn”
4. malign the doctors or your co-workers(other shifts, departments or staff) to the patient and family.
3. speak negatively about the patients with your co-workers.
2. say, “You’re not my patient.”
1. say, “It’s not my job.”

Just imagine what the patient experience might be if we could guarantee that none of these things would ever occur in any of our health care organizations. It may not be the answer to every customer service challenge, but it would be a good start.

Everything about the patient experience must instill trust in the organization, the care and the people. The examples cited above are real-life observations that I have made while either a mystery shopper or as a consumer. During each occurrence, I have reflected on my own reactions and the implications these remarks might have for other patients. In each situation, they erode trust or have a negative impact on the culture by promoting apathy toward the customers’ needs.

Leaders who are serious about fostering a culture that promotes a positive patient experience can start by creating a clear service vision and your own list of never events.

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Baird Consulting

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