Talk is not enough. "Patient focus" is more than just a pleasant slogan.
World-class healthcare organizations are redefining the idea of patient focus. They know that true patient focus is not passive—it is active, aggressive, passionate, fervent, energetic, and tireless. You must have an unconditional commitment to your patients.
The patient is not just involved in the process—the patient is an indispensable part of the process, and it doesn’t work without the patient's involvement. Care cannot be delivered or innovated in a vacuum.
This means inviting patients into their care. This means pursuing what the patient wants—chasing down what they need both in terms of medical care and in terms of the atmosphere, logistical processes, and family support that may be involved—until you get it right. It also means leaving behind attitudes such as, “That’s the way we have to do it,” and “Look, this is how we do it around here,” or worse yet, “Patients may not like it, but it works better for the doctors or staff this way.”
The best intentions in the world mean nothing if your patient isn't satisfied with and impressed with his care. Patient satisfaction is the key measure of performance.
This focus on patient satisfaction does not compromise medical care or organizational efficiency. It enhances both.
Patients are at your doorstep because they need your help. They are hurting. They are going through medical crises they can’t solve on their own. But at the end of the day, you have to believe that the patient ultimately knows what is best for them. The patient — and sometimes, their loved ones — can and should collaborate with you on their care.
How are the best organizations focusing on their patients? First, they include the patient in the process of collecting information about his needs and expectations. Next, healthcare professionals analyze what that information means and learn to understand it in the context of the medical situation and care environment. Then, they implement the results by creating the care plan that best meets patient expectations, needs, and preferences. Finally, they measure patient satisfaction, including the medical, emotional, and logistical aspects of their care. From start to finish, the approach is true patient focus.
When world-class Lean leaders focus on their patients, they achieve real results. They put patient input into action. Take a look at the experience of Ted Gachowski, a patient at Virginia Mason when JBA was consulting there.
Every week, a patient suffering from lymphoma had to make a three-hour drive from his home to receive a six-hour chemotherapy treatment. The travel and treatment was worse than the disease, at least initially. Because of the travel and treatment time, he stayed overnight in Seattle
The staff listened to the patient’s needs and went to work to cut his treatment time at the hospital. They cut his time at the hospital by 2 hours and 40 minutes (25 percent), his lead time by 2 hours and 30 minutes (63 percent), his in-hospital travel distance by 567 feet (76 percent), and his non-value-added time in the hospital by 142 minutes (73 percent). Bottom line, instead of checking in at 8 a.m. and completing his treatment at 6:25 p.m., he checked in at 8 a.m. and left the hospital at 3:45 p.m
Patient focus, front and center, put into action by Dr. Henry Otero, a world class leader who gets it.
If you missed it, be sure to check out my first post on world-class healthcare organizations here.