Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Communicate at Top

Hospitals and Corporate America;
Communicating with Those at the Top

As part of my Patient Safety Leadership Training I have to read many articles and stories about patient safety, statistics, corporate America and human life. The information isn’t often directly related to me or my work as I don’t work inside a hospital or corporate America, although I have in the past.

Hospitals are really no different than other corporations and the hard work that goes with being at the top. You have to be smart, strong and stable to make your way to the top of, and succeed in a corporate world. The problem is the layers in between. How difficult is it for the people who make the rules to decide what rules need to be made? Do they have access to the problem that needs addressing?

In the grassroots world, our work is often scattered amongst the most knowledgeable and those willing to help. The same people who see the problem also address it. The difference is we don’t always have the power or the money to make the changes in the larger world, so it often stays at ground level and like grass seed, will flourish and make a beautiful lawn, but maybe not a complete garden.

I think the most successful corporations are the one’s that allow the staff to have some control. The most successful leader is the one who allows others to lead and are willing to follow. In corporate America, egos are very tender. After all, they work hard to get to where they are and want to feel confident that they will stay there.

I see many conversations among hospital leadership still doesn’t include anyone from the outside. As an “outsider” there are things we can do to help improve care. We, the patients and the families see things differently than the staff do. Each person in the hospital has their job and takes pride in their department but as guests or visitors we see many departments and the services we use spread over many different areas.

Sometimes it’s as simple as looking at the website of the hospital. How easy is it to find someone to answer a question at 9:00 at night or 8:00 in the morning? Websites are often the place a family member may go to find a contact to help respond to a problem when they can’t be there. Is the name and contact information easily accessible to the CEO or Executive Director? If the patient wants someone in charge, how can they find them within the hospital?

When a call comes in with a problem, how good is the person taking the call listening? Do they ask irrelevant questions or are they trying to address the problem at hand?

Is the social worker, nursing director, pastoral care or patient representative easily accessible or are their jobs described for the patient? Who would we go to if we have an immediate concern about a family member in the hospital? If we want to know if we can stay overnight or if we want to know how a patient with special needs will be addressed?

These questions can be the start of a relationship between the hospital and the patient or family and may not be addressed if the people who make the rules don’t know if there is a problem or concern. A simple letter or reminder about how to improve services is always helpful to the person who wants to know “how are we doing?”
Corporate America, and hospitals need to have access to community and rely on their input for improvement. But sometimes we have to know what we are looking for and what questions to answer. That has to come from the top.

1 comment:

simplydelicious said...

Your post is a very important topic for corporations like mine - a 52 bed private psychiatric facility. We take pride in our Service Excellence standards towards the patients and their loved ones and I am printing out your posting and bringing it to our next mgrs meeting! Very important topic!!

Nurse Manager