Raise Patient Experience or Raise Patient Experience Scores?

On Friday I had a chance to speak with someone who reads this blog.  He mentioned that my style of writing seemed a little edgy.  I appreciate that he chose such a polite word.

The Science Channel advertised a show regarding an update about how the universe was made.  Maybe it is the cynic in me, but all I could think of was whether someone had sent Morgan Freeman an email dated a gazillion years ago describing a littler bang that preceded the big bang.

It was too cold to go out, too cold to play ball.  So we sat in the house and did nothing at all.

So starts The Cat in the Hat.  So started my day.  For those unable to recall the book, a cat enters the kids’ home…yada, yada, yada…and pretty soon everything in their home is covered with pink stains.  The kids know that their mom will be home soon and that the house must be spotless before she arrives.

I am the Rain-Man of parenting, an idiot savant.  My cat-in-the-hat moment occurred this morning.  Permit me to set the stage.  Last night our fifteen year-old had his friends over for a party.  I was flying solo; my wife was out of town.

The first indication that something was amiss was when I tried to find the kitchen this morning.  From what I was able to recall the kitchen was somewhere beneath the compost pile and Williams-Sonoma warehouse that covered every inch of granite countertop.  The aura was a combination Snapple—Utz—Buffalo Wings.  The entire first floor looked like Animal House’s Delta Tau’s frat house run amuck.

My son was twenty-four hours away from being sent to boarding school in some country not covered on the National Geographic channel.  My message to the boys was simple, little cat Z was about to have a very long day. Mom was one her way home.  You need to be as frightened of her as I am.  I have your phone, I told my son.  You will get it back after you graduate Georgetown Law.

If I’m lucky a month from now I could be managing a Cin-A-Bun in Omaha. No, that is not a quote from the last person who tried to improve patient experience; it was Saul in Breaking Bad.

Improving patient experience.  Improving patient experience scores.  Two entirely different missions.  They involve different teams; different tasks, different scorecards and they have different outcomes.

One scorecard enables you to declare victory if you can spend a few hundred thousand dollars and bump it up by a tenth of a point.  The other measures success in two hundred thousand dollar increments.  A retained patient, a referred patient.

The focus on most hospitals is getting the next tenth of a point.  The focus of most hospitals ignores their largest stakeholder, prospective patients.

Perhaps there is merit in refocusing.

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