Success and failure are often separated by the slimmest of margins. Sometimes success hinges on how you present your idea. It is possible to force the circumstances via rapid evolution to pass from problem, to possible solution, to believable, to heroic? I believe so.
Permit me to illustrate with frozen chicken. Several hours before dinner I threw the frozen chicken breasts into the sink, choosing to thaw them with water instead of the microwave. Some twenty minutes later while checking emails I wondered what we were having for dinner. Not to be outdone by own inadequacies, I remembered we were having chicken. I remembered that we were having chicken because I remembered turning on the hot water. The only thing I couldn’t remember was turning off the hot water.
I raced to the kitchen. My memory of having forgotten to turn off the water was correct. Grabbing every towel I could find, I soaked up the man-made lake that had appeared on the hardwood flooring. While draining the lake I thought about how I might answer to my wife if she happened to return to a kitchen during high tide. My first reaction, admittedly poor, was to tell her that I thought the countertop wasn’t level and that the only way to know for sure was to see which direction the water ran. Telling her the truth never entered my mind.
Once the major puddles had been removed, I worked on version two of the story, quickly arriving at a version of the truth that seemed more palatable—tell her I decided to wash all the towels. Why not get bonus points instead of getting in trouble? Version three looked even better. Since I was wiping the floor with the towels, instead of telling her I washed the towels, why not double the bonus points? I decided to wash the floor, and wash the towels. Husband of the year couldn’t be far off.
A few hours have passed. The floor is dry—and clean, the towels are neatly folded and back in the linen closet, and the chicken is on the grill. All the bases covered. A difficult and embarrassing situation turned into a positive by quick thinking.
A few of you have asked, let’s say we buy into what you are saying, how do you propose we create a remarkable patient experience? All kidding aside, it comes down to presentation. Clearly you can’t walk into a room with a bunch of slides showing that with all of your hospital’s efforts you have only managed to improve the experience of the patients from 7.25 to 7.27.
The first requirement to turn stalled patient experience scores into a remarkable experience for every patient and every prospective patient every time is to quit focusing only on HCAHPs. Think of it as a patient experience 12-step meeting; “Hi, my name is Paul, and my patient experience scores have flat-lined.” See, that was not so difficult.
And what needs to be done? Why not take a deep breath and decide that the time has come to lead and innovate, and to stop relying on CMS to define what patient experience means for your hospital?
Here is a start for those looking for the first step.
Define the Total Quality of a person’s Experience (TQE). I use person instead of patient because prospective patients also have experiences when they visit family members, when they call the hospital and are on the web trying to decide where to buy healthcare.
TQE = Patient Experience (think HCAHPs) + Persons’ Satisfaction (all other touchpoints)
So, how did my chicken dinner turn out? I was feeling confident that I had sidestepped to worst of it. Overconfident, as it turned out. My son hollered from the basement, “Dad, why is all this water down here?”