I dropped by the Minute Clinic for my flu shot. The forty-something woman ahead of me, whose purse was the size of a small Winnebago, stepped up to the kiosk to sign in. I may have mentioned in a prior post that I was at the back of the line when God was handing out patience. After five minutes I began to get a little exasperated. Her ability to interface with technology reminded me of a chimp learning to play the bagpipes. Knowing she was going to be a while I retreated to the shaving aisle, grabbed a can of shave cream, a razor, and cleaned myself up a bit.
While the Minute Clinic may be a Godsend for parents in terms of convenience, cost, and immediacy, the user experience (UX) could be improved. What user experience? The one that has to do with their automated sign-in. The user interface (UI), although childlike in its simplicity takes more time to complete than the exam. Your hospital’s website is probably chocked-full of UX and UI opportunities.
Observation may be one of our best teachers, but by failing to observe what we see every day, what is commonplace, we often miss what can be learned from it. Here is a real-life example that occurred to me from having watched a human interest story on the local news about neighbors banding together to try and rescue someone’s pet cat that was stuck in a tree.
Ladders. Catnip. Clawed rescuers. The cat eventually came down of its own accord.
Here is the observation; have you ever seen a cat skeleton in a tree? What can be learned? Maybe cats do not need rescuing.
Innovating patient experience has many similarities with cats stuck in trees. Somebody overthinks the problem, regulates it, and we throw resources at the problem trying to avoid the regulators. We establish committees, have meetings, and create reports. We discuss the problem, we recall what happened the last time we had this type of problem, we bring in experts whose skills are particularly attuned to solving this problem, and then we attack it.
The one thing we fail to do is to validate whether the problem as defined by Washington, and the solution, as defined by Washington—raising the scores of thirty-two questions—is the right approach. This approach presupposes that higher scores are reflective of higher patient experience. Is it possible that higher scores are simply reflective of having figured out how to avoid CMS’s penalty?
Thirty-two. A very precise number. Thirty-one questions were not enough. Thirty-three would have been one too many. Thirty-two questions was just right—sounds a little like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Those thirty-two questions do not address anything the patient may experience before coming to the hospitals or after leaving the hospital. They do not address what type of experience prospective patients, people who want to buy healthcare, have when they call the hospital or look online for information about the hospital.
This link takes you to a brief deck listing questions about someone’s experience that were not asked by CMS. The answers to these questions affect whether someone will buy healthcare from your organization, whether they will buy it again when they require additional care, and whether they will refer your organization to others.
I have done the math. The financial benefits of getting favorable answers to these questions far exceeds the financial penalty imposed by CMS. The best you can do by scoring well on CMS’s questions is to avoid a penalty. The best you can do by scoring well on my questions is to add revenues.
You decide how you want to play it. Meanwhile, the cat in the tree is doing just fine and does not require any help. If it does, there is always gravity.