Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Going from Good to Great

Going from good to great….all it takes is a willingness to want to be the best.
March 16th, 2009

Today was a good day. A colleague told me about a personal health caring experience regarding herself and one of her family members. Overall everything was really, really good….but yes; there was a but.

Treatment in the ER was appropriate and comforting…her relative was admitted and the family was advised that the surgeon would be in very early in the morning to meet with patient. Expectations were set and the whole family organized themselves to help. All their planning didn’t work out as well as expected and many things had to be rearranged because the surgeon’s and hospital's timetable changed by almost five hours. I am not sure whether the timetable could have been adjusted. Perhaps the only thing which might have helped would have been an explanation about the reason for the delay as soon as it could have possibly been communicated, so that the patient and their family would have been expecting the delay.

Is there a learning lesson here?

Having this discussion reminded me about something that is special about the way we practice here at ACH.

What is interesting to me is how often patients and members of their family use the words “I really don’t want to get anyone in trouble” and truly, they don’t. However, they do want someone to understand what dissatisfied them and didn’t meet their expectations -- or why their expectations were not met. Just as often when I follow up on a complaint (which I consider a great opportunity to do something better), I here these words from a colleague or a physician: “You have to hear my side of it”. Usually they are a little startled when I say that I don’t.

Then I go on to explain why. I let them know the reason I don’t have to hear "their side," is because I believed whatever they were doing, they were trying to do the right thing. The point is the customer, or in this case the patient, is always right. What is most important is that we have an opportunity to figure out what we could have done to meet or exceed their expectations.

Time is critical, especially if the patient is still at the hospital -- and the focus should always be on how could we make it better. If we are willing to accept constructive criticism, knowing that no one will get in trouble, and focus on what could we have done differently rather than worrying about explaining what happened, we are well on the way from going from good to great.

Below is a message we give to patients when they come into our facility. I think it is worth repeating. We actually tell our patients our expectations of them. We encourage them to express their complaints to us.

A Welcome To Our ACH/Planetree
Customers and Guests, Families and Friends
We, the Colleagues, Physicians and Volunteers are striving to help Alliance Community Hospital (ACH) become the Premier Community Hospital in the State of Ohio, which means:

The Best People Providing the Best Service and the Best Place To Work

As a Planetree Hospital our models of “Health Caring” are cultivating an environment and service philosophy that combines the best of hospitals with the best of spas and hotels…where just being here begins the comforting or healing process.

Our Expectation of You, our Customer and Guest
We can only achieve this vision with your help. Throughout your visit or stay here you will constantly be asked “Is there anything else I or a fellow colleague can do for You?” This is your cue to let us know how we could go from being good (in your eyes) to being great, or if we haven’t met your expectations, how we might do so. Other hospitals may view your advice or suggestions as "tattle tales" or getting someone into trouble; we view them as free consulting advice.

So please when you are asked, let us know the little things that you would appreciate to make your stay or visit with us special or more comforting.

Every department or service you visit or use has their Vision and Health Caring Standards posted or published. Please look for them and read them. We know we are not perfect and there are times when if you were rating our service you might not be able to say it was excellent. Please take the next opportunity when one of our colleagues asks “Is there anything else I or a fellow colleague can do for You?” to let them know what would help you or perhaps the next customer or guest. We thank you in advance for helping us help others.

During your stay or visit with us any of our colleagues may offer you their business card. On the bottom of their card is the leader of the service or department with whom the colleague works. If the colleague can’t respond to your request directly, their boss is available to help back them up. If for any reason they might not be able to respond to your need, feel free to turn the card over and contact me directly, Stan Jonas, CEO, Alliance Community Hospital. My direct business and home numbers, along with e-mail, are also listed. We know every one of our customers and guests are individuals and everyone may have different needs.

Again, we value your opinions and suggestions and for helping us to continually improve and pay attention to the things that are most important to you our customer and guest.

Stan W. Jonas, Chief Executive Officer
Alliance Community Hospital

Sometimes people still are hesitant to express their dissatisfaction until after they have left the hospital. So, if the patient or the family member is hesitant to express their feelings, how might we encourage that?

The easiest way is to always ask our strategic question. "Is there anything else I or a fellow Colleague can do for you?" It is what differentiaties us from our competition each and every chance we get.

Thanks for listening.