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Make Hospital Staff Accountable for Patient Experience

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media, March 4, 2013

An organization's culture, despite what's written on its mission statement, is the collective body of its staff's behavior. Patients' ongoing interactions with hospital staff create hundreds of opportunities to leave impressions, both positive and negative. It's in these "moments of truth," that an organization's brand is forged.

In six out of ten "moments of truth" the attitude of healthcare staff defines the experiences—twice the amount of banking or hospitality, according to a PwC report (PDF).

"In some ways, it's an apples-to-oranges discussion because in hospitality and banking, I have an employee that is replaceable," says Paul D'Alessandro, a principal in PwC's Health Industries Advisory and the firm's U.S. customer impact leader.

Coach, Measure, and Hire Well
"We hold people's feet to the fire in all of those different industries. If they mess up, they are held accountable for it. But there needs to be more accountability in healthcare as well, but with a sensitivity to the fact that they aren't necessarily an interchangeable employee… There needs to be work put into place into the way our teams are coached, teams are measured, and the teams are hired quite frankly, as well."

In healthcare, the staff is on a stage, and the patients are the judging audience, armed with patient satisfaction surveys. According to the PwC report, 72% of consumers ranked provider reputation and personal experience as the top drivers of provider choice.

Physicians, nurses, medical technicians and other clinicians can become unaware that their level of compassion is waning when they're under pressure, but it's up to the organization to renew their awareness and hold them accountable.

"[Clinicians] end up focusing after months or years of doing things in a given way, numbing themselves to the fact that what they just did, hurts." says D'Alessandro.

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