Yearly Archives: 2017

Creating and Sustaining a Service Culture: Acknowledge your Colleagues and CustomersPosted on December 24, 2017

Kara Redoutey, MBA & SOMC Service Team Members

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

We get focused on the task at hand, often meticulously entering information into the medical record. We get distracted putting out fires or handling issues. We are focused on correcting mistakes and training co-workers.  In all of this hustle and bustle, we forget to properly acknowledge the person in front of us with eye contact, a smile, and a warm, friendly greeting.  We often have good intentions, but good intensions are not enough.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Everyone deserves to be acknowledged. Nothing makes you feel more like you are not being cared for than when you are being ignored or not acknowledged.  Whether in person or on the phone, we should acknowledge customers so they know they are not an interruption to our day, but the reason for it.  When we take the time to acknowledge the people we serve, patient or colleague, we let them know through our behavior they are important and we are present and available to take care of their needs.

How can you do it? 

  1. Make eye contact and smile with a warm, friendly greeting.  A genuine smile goes a long way. Meet their eyes with “warm” eye contact, just as you would greet your family member, remembering, quite simply, this person is someone’s family member.
  2. Meet and greet customers and colleagues within 3 feet.  Look up as you walk or as you are working at a desk as someone is approaching within 3 feet.
  3. Practice a “Heads Up” policy when interacting with customers. It is impossible to do this properly when our heads are looking down on our devices, so “Heads Up” out of the cell phone and other devices.

In what unique ways do you remember to kindly acknowledge your customers?

 


Creating and Sustaining a Service Culture: Lead by ExamplePosted on December 17, 2017

Kara Redoutey, MBA

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

At times, we forget how important it is to set an example of behavior for our teams.  We may get distracted and fail to give someone our full attention.  We may be busy and answer the phone sounding annoyed to the person on the other end.  We may be tired from having been up all night with our child and, in turn, been short with a team member or failed to really listen to their concerns.  We are human and there are a variety of reasons why we don’t always lead by example. No matter the reasons, we should always do our best to give perfect service despite how we feel.  We should also own up to our teams when we fail to give them the service we expect.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

This John Wooden quote really makes the case: “The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own example.”  Your team is not likely to follow you if you aren’t willing to do the things you are asking them to do.  If you want your team members to develop and improve their service to your teams and patients, you must first show them how it’s done.  The example should always start with you. Even on the days we feel tired, sad, or overwhelmed, we have to push service to the forefront of our brains and deliver to our teams the level of service we expect them to deliver to our patients.

How can you do it? 

  1. Remember that you are always on stage.  No matter who you are interacting with, as a leader and service role model, you must consistently demonstrate the behaviors you are expecting from others. Someone is always watching you and will remember how you handled the situation.
  2. Model giving perfect service as often as possible.  When in situations, show your team how to do it. We want to change the old adage, from “do as I say, not as I do,” to “do as I say and do what I do.” You have a great opportunity to set the example for your teams and colleagues.
  3. Welcome constructive criticism when you are not delivering on your service commitment.  We all have moments or times where we fail to deliver perfect service to someone. Own up to it and ask your team members to call you on it.  We can make mistakes, but it’s best to make mistakes from which we can all learn and grow in an open environment where speaking up is encouraged.

When your day isn’t going as planned, how do you push yourself to make service a priority?


Creating and Sustaining a Service Culture: What is the SOMC Way?Posted on December 15, 2017

Kara Redoutey, MBA

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

An article in The Harvard Business Review shared a quote from a professor at Columbia University saying, “It’s all too easy for businesses to become inward focused, to think about their own activities rather than what the customer is going through. They think they’re focused on the customer, but they really aren’t.”  This quote was a great reminder that we don’t always put ourselves in our patients’ shoes.  We often focus on our own processes and outcomes, rather than thinking about how our patients feel in the interactions with us. At times, we don’t really think about the overall impact that our everyday service has on our patients and the long term effects of failing to deliver on our commitment of giving perfect service.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Our mission to make a difference in our community is served in part by providing excellent service to our patients.  The more consistent we are in delivering positive patient experiences, the more patients will support the organization and continue to choose us for their care.  It is an amazing feeling to have made a hard, time consuming, or difficult situation just a little bit better for our patients by demonstrating to them how much they matter to us through our service to them.

How can you do it? 

Do your best to model The SOMC Way in every interaction with our patients and co-workers.  We will all be better for your commitment to focus on making each patient experience a positive one.

THE SOMC WAY

  1. I will acknowledge my customers with a warm smile, friendly greeting and eye contact.
  2. I will introduce myself to my customers, sharing my name and my role in caring for them, and I will call my customers by the name they prefer.
  3. I will make a personal connection with my customers by treating them like I or my family would want to be treated and remembering the “little things” to make them feel special.
  4. I will communicate respectfully with my customers by listening attentively (sitting down if in person) and displaying positive, open body language.
  5. I will explain the tasks I am performing for my customers by narrating while I am completing them, using terms that my customers can understand.
  6. I will keep my customers informed of the duration of their tests and treatment and up-to-date on any delays in their care.
  7. I will thank my customers for choosing SOMC for their care, and always ask if they need any additional assistance when my interaction with them is ending.
  8. I will take ownership of issues or problems for my customers, apologizing for the concern, working to find a solution or someone who can help me, and following through to fix the situation.
  9. I will be professional while representing SOMC through my neat, clean appearance and professional conduct.
  10. I will be a respectful team player at SOMC by anticipating my co-workers’ needs, helping where and when they need help, and acknowledging that all jobs and departments are important in delivering a positive patient experience.

What are some of ways you personally use “The SOMC Way” strategies to deliver perfect service to your patients or colleagues?


Creating and Sustaining a Service Culture: Why is Patient Experience so Important?Posted on December 3, 2017

Kara Redoutey, MBA

SOMC has recently started an organization wide journey toward Giving Perfect Service.  We engaged front line and provider service zealots to get their input into the consistent behaviors they demonstrate every single day with their patients and customers.  We then developed The SOMC Way, which has become the organization’s expected service behaviors for every interaction.  The next 16 weeks of the SOMC Blog will be focused on delivering perfect service to our patients and colleagues.  It is my hope that you will start commenting and sharing specific stories about how you deliver a positive patient experience, so we can all learn from one another about the different ways it can be done well.  I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

We sometimes lose sight or focus when we are performing better than national averages.  Why fix something that isn’t broken?  We are busy.  We are focused on so many things already, such as quality, patient flow, coordination of care, data tracking, documentation, and the list goes on and on. Our teams have enough to focus on without the added worry of ensuring they are doing all this work with a smile on their faces. It can be difficult to confront members of our team, who are extremely busy and performing their work exceptionally well, for not meeting the organization’s service expectations.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

There are a number of reasons for delivering a positive patient experience in every interaction, whether it be in person, on the phone, online, or any other way we are communicating with our patients.  First, patients who have an exceptional experience will choose our organization again for their care, meaning that we have helped to create a loyal customer.  We have discussed word of mouth marketing on this blog in the past.  Remember that loyal patients will talk to other potential patients and bring new customers to our organization.  The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has shared that positive patient experiences increase patient engagement in their healthcare, ultimately improving overall quality of care.  Reimbursement will be impacted by the hospital’s service scores.  But the most important reason for focusing on giving perfect service is that our patients, friends, neighbors, and family members, deserve for their experience to be as pleasant as it can possibly be.

How can you do it? 

  1. Learn from staff on the front lines doing it right.  Most team members aren’t shy about sharing ways that they deliver a positive patient experience. We can learn from them and find new ways to connect with our patients.
  2. Re-educate your teams on service expectations.  We all need reminders from time to time. Simply taking the time to talk through different service expectations in a staff meeting can be a great reminder to team members.  Also using an opportunity when a situation didn’t go well to educate your teams can be a wonderful coaching moment.
  3. Hold leaders and staff accountable for delivering exceptional service.  We all have the opportunity to deliver excellent service, whether we are serving our colleagues who are directly serving patients or directly delivering care to patients. If you see an opportunity to coach a colleague on giving perfect service, take a moment to do so.  A coaching conversation could positively impact the care that patients receive every day!

How do you deliver a positive patient experience?


Process Improvement: How To Sell ItPosted on November 12, 2017

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

As a leader, you are no stranger to making decisions. You have built your team and you have been the architect of the culture in your department. With this in mind, you should have no problem making the decision to try and hard wire a mindset of process improvement into your team. If successful, you and your team would have achieved better results that you’re currently seeing. What leader wouldn’t charge head long into this effort? I would challenge that the answer to that question is any leader who wants this changes to be sustainable and most effective. If that is you, then you must sell your team. Their buy in will be the key to lasting success.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Process improvement is more than a series of tools or techniques that help you achieve better results. It’s a culture itself. It is a mindset. In order to achieve success, you have to find a way for the concepts of process improvement to be woven into the fabric of your team. The best way to do that is to sell your team and gain a consensus on the value that this will bring. A fully committed team will find success in places and in ways that a fragmented or disengaged team will never realize.

How can you do it?

  1. Identify key leaders. Find your allies on the team who will see the value you see.
  2. Welcome questions. Be open to feedback and constructive criticism from your team. They have to know that their opinions are welcome and will be heard.
  3. Seek the best idea. The best idea must win. If a team is going to work together, they must all believe that the objectives are worth striving for.

Thanks for journeying with me through this discussion about process improvement. I hope that you and your teams are able to take some of this information and help drive your culture to seek a better way.


Process Improvement: Lean Isn’t For MePosted on November 5, 2017

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

If you have been following along with this blog series, you have probably thought that some (or a lot) of what I have been talking about sounds an awful lot like a manufacturing concept called LEAN. That’ because, process improvement is the singular objective of the lean concept. Many people have heard about lean. It isn’t all that new, but it is less common in industries outside of manufacturing. Someone might be tempted to think that lean won’t work for them because they work in healthcare. Or, even if one sees the value of its application to healthcare, they might be intimidated by the idea of lean. Perhaps they have heard people refer to it and use language that seems odd (Lean has its roots in Japanese culture) or its statistical applications seem over the head of many folks with a clinical background.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

I hope to convince you that by following the steps laid out in this recent series on Process Improvement that you can apply lean principles to your work place within the healthcare setting and achieve excellent results. I intentionally waited until the end of my series to make this case because I didn’t want you to be discouraged by any preconceived notions about lean. Instead, I hope that you have been able to see that there are many simple concepts that you can use to fill your leadership tool box that might help you and your team work to improve processes in your areas. Here at SOMC, a group of key leaders has worked hard to integrate these and many other principles into our areas of influence. We believed that a grass roots initiative of implementation was the best method to achieve cultural buy-in to these concepts. We also intentionally stay away from the work lean as well as the common language used by many organizations to describe lean and its associated processes. Instead, we use the phrase “A Better Way” as a cultural mantra to inspire leaders and teams to pursue excellence in their areas.

How can you do it?

  1. Understand your culture. A key to successfully establishing these principles is understanding how best to present them within your workplace. At SOMC, we felt simple and common language were keys to success for our efforts.
  2. Identify champions. Find a team of people who will embody the methodologies of process improvement. Insist that they lead within their areas by walking the talk of process improvement.
  3. Start small. Pick easy projects and get some wins under your belt before tackling broader organizational opportunities.

Next week I will talk about how to sell these ideas to your team directly. 


Process Improvement: Types of WastePosted on October 29, 2017

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

When you boil it down, process improvement is about identifying waste and removing it from your processes. We dont always think of it this way, but once we do, we are able to see the opportunities right in front of us. Sometimes, we get so focused on a specific type of opportunity that we dont look for wastes that are right in front of us. This type of thinking can lead us into a process improvement rut. Once we are in the rut, we might even become very successful at identifying certain types of opportunities, but we can become blind to others that are right in front of us.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

In order to combat against this opportunity identifying rut, we can use an acronym to help us try and identify all the different types of waste that are robbing our processes of their productivity. All you have to do to remember the types of waste are to remember a name, Tim Woods.

T – Transport – The movement of people, products, and information.
I – Inventory – The storage of parts, pieces, and documentation in excess of what is required.
M – Motion – Any unnecessary physical activity.

W – Waiting – Time spent without one or more key components needed to complete a task.
O – Over production – The process of making more than is immediately required.
O – Over processing – The process of doing more than is required to complete the task.
D – Defects – Anything that results in a having to do rework or does not contribute to an acceptable outcome.
S – Skills – The act of under utilizing capabilities and/or delegating tasks to someone with inadequate training.

How can you do it?

  1. Get to know Tim Woods. Familiarize yourself with the different types of waste.
  2. Educate your teams. Introduce the people you work with to Tim Woods.
  3. Empower people. Give your staff permission to identify wastes in their areas.
  4. Involve them in the solution. Guided team participation in removing wastes will result in the best outcomes.

Have you ever used the Tim Woods method of identifying waste?


Process Improvement: PDSA Cycle (Act)Posted on October 22, 2017

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

Taking action is what we are called to do as leaders. The final step in the PDSA cycle is action. It is easy to want to jump directly to this step, but the purpose of the PDSA cycle is to facilitate an evaluation and decision making process that produces the best action. As leaders, we can be hesitant to let this process run it’s course. We must be intentional about following the steps to make sure that we make the best decision.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Some times we will do a PDSA and the outcome will be exactly what we had anticipated. We will have a seamless transition to our new process and everything will be better because of it. However, the PDSA is even more valuable in scenarios where the initial outcome of our study was something other than what we anticipated. In these cases, we must take the proper action of starting the PDSA process over. Doing so will help us drill down into what caused the unexpected outcome and will get us back on the path to improvement.

How can you do it?

  1. Understand what your analysis is telling you. Having conducted the first three steps of your PDSA, you should be able to identify if your plan was successful.
  2. Choose between proceeding or rebooting. In most PDSAs, you’re left with two options for action. Continue with the new process or restart the PDSA to continue to seek a better outcome.
  3. Act. Once you know what you want to do, go for it.

Have you ever used a PDSA cycle?


Process Improvement: PDSA Cycle (Study)Posted on October 15, 2017

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

We are committed to producing results. We observe. We interpret. We take action. That is what we do as a leader. In some cases, we identify our opportunity, we solicit input from key stakeholders, we develop a plan, and we implement the plan. The temptation might be to think that our work is complete with respect to this specific opportunity. However, when using the PDSA cycle, we have two more steps to consider. The third step is the study step. Study is a hardwired check and balance for our interventions. It forces us to study or observe our change to make sure that it is in fact achieving our desired outcome. Some leaders may have already moved onto the next project before completing this phase.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

The study phase is vital to the success of intervention. It requires us to determine how to measure the success of our plan. If we fail to complete this phase, we will be placing all of our trust in the assumptions we made in developing our plan. This is why taking the time to analyze our outcomes is so important. It allows us to assess the success of our intervention and make an informed decision about whether or not to roll it out to all areas or pull it back and tweak the process again.

How can you do it?

  1. Know your plan. Be sure that you understand what you are trying to address and how your plan will help you achieve success.
  2. Know what you’re going to measure. What does success look like? How can you measure it? Be sure that you have measurable indicators related to your plan so that you can clearly analyze it.
  3. Collect data. Collect the data from your test.
  4. Analyze your data. How does the data stack up to what you expected? Is it evidence of a successful test? Did something happen that you didn’t expect? The answers to these questions will lead you into the final step of the PDSA cycle.

Have you ever used a PDSA cycle?


Process Improvement: PDSA Cycle (Do)Posted on October 8, 2017

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

Do we have the right plan? What if it could be better? Are you second guessing yourself? We are all prone to this second guessing. Perhaps it’s a fear of failure. Perhaps it’s the perfectionist inside of each of us. As leaders, this paralysis by analysis can cripple us and ultimately submarine our efforts to produce excellent results.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

If time wasn’t working against us, we might have a case against doing something until we have the perfect plan. As we know thought, time is a resource that we can’t make more of and for this reason, doing is our priority as a leader. Once you and your team have developed your plan, proceeding with the plan is the only way you will be able to further evaluate your performance.

How can you do it? 

  1. Choose your plan. Work with your team to determine the best plan to evaluate your process.
  2. Identify who is responsible. Be sure that your plan has a responsible party. Someone who can enact it and be accountable for how things unfold.
  3. Take action. Leadership is defined by the actions we choose in light of our responsibilities. In this case, enact your plan.

Have you ever used a PDSA cycle?


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