Narrating Care: Why the Words You Say Maximize the Impact of the Care You Provide

April 6, 2011

Often after I do a speaking presentation, people will come up to me to ask questions and share steps they are taking to improve performance. Some of the saddest moments are when it’s evident that someone is working very hard to serve patients and it appears many of the right steps are being taken—but the objective results are not there.

I’ve identified a common theme in these situations. Even when many of the correct steps are being implemented, one critical step often is not: explaining what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Sometimes explanations have more impact than behaviors. That’s why narrating care is so powerful. Here are several examples:

Example 1: A hospital wanted to improve the patient’s perception of speed of direct admissions. Through process improvement it had reduced the average time to around 20 minutes from a previous average of over 40 minutes. Yet, patient perception of the speed of admission process stayed the same. The issue was that the change was not explained to patients—so they had no basis for comparison. It simply seemed slow.

The recommendation was to say to each patient: “The admission process you are going to go through used to take an average of 47 minutes. However, we’ve worked hard to speed up the process and now it should take less than 25 minutes. When you’ve completed the process, we’d like your feedback on it.” The hospital implemented these key words and patient perception of care went up.

Example 2: An Emergency physician told me the story that while he tried to make all the patients comfortable he was not explaining the actions he was taking. For example, “I want you to be as comfortable as possible—would you like a blanket?” or “I have ordered pain medication to make you more comfortable.”

While he and the other physicians had always done these behaviors, they had not connected the dots for the patient. Once they started doing so, the patient perception of care (satisfaction results) improved.

Example 3: A hospital’s HCAHPS result on noise was not good. To remedy the problem, the organization had put softer wheels on carts, eliminated paging, and even purchased quieter keyboards and put up signs asking people to keep noise levels down. Unfortunately, no improvement was experienced in the HCAHPS.

Here is what took place next. The staff explained to the patients and family members that they wanted the unit to be as quiet as possible so the patient could get rest. They even explained the steps they had taken, such as the softer wheels and the elimination of paging. They added: “While we do all we can, we are a hospital and some noise is inevitable as we’re caring for patients. Still, if it’s too noisy, please let the staff know and we will do all we can to keep things as quiet as possible.”

Guess what? Perception of quietness went up and noise went down.

I see healthcare professionals working very hard, taking many of the right steps, and I see their disappointment when those results are not there. Often, they end up trying even more actions—which may still not make a difference.

My suggestion is this: before you make even more changes, first take the time to better explain what you’re doing and why. The patient’s perception of care will improve and you’ll have a new appreciation for the true power of words.


Quint Studer

Quint Studer, CEO
Studer Group


The Art of Physician Courtship: Five Things Healthcare Leaders Can Do to Lay the Groundwork for Physician Integration

April 4, 2011

Click the link for a video going into more detail on this topic. Blog Response

It seems we in the healthcare industry constantly hear about the upcoming “marriage” between hospitals and physicians. And while it’s not yet clear exactly what form this partnership is going to take—ACOs, physician employment, or something else entirely—the people in suits and the people in white coats are about to get a whole lot closer.

This raises a very logical question: How can you ever get married when you’ve never enjoyed dating?

No one knows what will happen as pay-for-performance really gets rolling, but it doesn’t matter. Organizations need to get focused on building strong, healthy relationships with their physicians, however they work together right now. (If you don’t lay the groundwork for a solid partnership, can you imagine how unhappy the marriage will be—and how much the divorce will cost?)

The idea is to become the kind of organization that physicians want to partner with. Even if the “marriage” ends up not happening, everyone will be a lot happier in the present.

At Studer Group®, we work with plenty of organizations that get physician integration right. These organizations do very specific things that set them apart:

They understand that, in the hierarchy of physician needs, great patient care comes first. Physicians care about clinical outcomes. Other things matter, too (workload, reward & recognition, the ability to make a living), but knowing patients are well taken care of has to come first. Providing exceptional quality care—every patient in every department every time—can happen only when you have the right culture. And that “culture of always” can happen only when you get the foundation right.

It’s Evidence-Based LeadershipSM—a foundation that gets their goals, behaviors, and processes aligned and working together—that allows them to reduce variances in leadership skills and processes and helps organizations achieve predictable, positive patient outcomes.

They measure physician satisfaction. It’s very simple: If you want to know whether your physicians are happy with your relationship, ask them. It’s amazing how many organizations don’t take the obvious step of diagnosing physician satisfaction. And what’s even more amazing is how many do diagnose it but then fail to act on the results—or even switch vendors rather than look for ways to improve the situation.

If it’s really important to you, you measure it. You diagnose. And you don’t run from the answer.

Once they’ve measured it, they take action to improve it. Rochester General Health System in Rochester, NY, is a great example of physician integration. RGHS took its physician satisfaction results from the 11th percentile to the 90th percentile in a very short amount of time. It did so by measuring one domain at a time—administrative response time, communication, tools and equipment, ease of practicing medicine—and by working with physicians to create a game plan on improving each one.

Their leaders keep in close touch with physicians. Leaders cannot engage their medical staff from an office. To build solid relationships, they need to establish sincere, face-to-face, two-way communication with physicians. This doesn’t just happen. Leaders have to make it happen. That’s why we recommend that leaders build time into their schedules to round on physicians.

We’ve found that when leaders round on physicians once a month, satisfaction results will be in the 87th percentile for likelihood of recommending the hospital to a colleague or patient. If you round quarterly, satisfaction is in the 75th percentile. If you round every six months, or never, it’s in the 50th percentile. So if you’re going to round, you have to do so at least once a quarter to make an impact.

They look for ways to make physicians’ lives easier. Two simple tools we recommend are Got Chart and physician preference cards. The first is a checklist nurses use when they need to call a physician about a patient. It lays out the information the physician wants to know (and in what order) and makes these interactions more efficient (and safer for the patient, too). The second is just what it sounds like: a card the organization creates for each physician to let staff members know which rounding time he prefers, how he prefers to be contacted, and so forth.

As you can see, both tools are very low-tech and easy to use, but they make a big difference in physician satisfaction.

Physician integration isn’t really about ACOs or any other financial structure. It’s about making sure hospitals run well. It’s about making sure patients are given exceptional care, not just some of the time but every time. It’s about creating solid relationships with physicians, so that they want to join forces with you in whatever form the partnership takes.


Quint Studer

Quint Studer, CEO

Studer Group

What Physicians and Others Can Do to Celebrate National Doctors Day

March 30, 2011

Physicians do great work every day. I know and work with many extraordinary healers, and I see their dedication and diligence firsthand. And yet, so many of us (yes, I am a physician, too!) are so busy caring for our patients and our own families that we have little time to reflect on our own accomplishments. Fortunately, we have Doctors Day—today, March 30—as an opportunity to take a breather and consider what we do well…and what we might do better.

Here are a few of my suggestions for physicians and other healthcare professionals who support them.

For doctors:

  • Take a moment to pause and think about all the good you have done over the course of your career. The lives saved, the lives improved, the care you gave to patients even when you couldn’t cure them.
  • Remember the “big picture” when the frustrations of the healthcare environment start to close in on you. Healing and helping others is a calling, and the good work you do makes up for the headaches that come with practicing medicine.
  • Remember that we have limitations. Make sure that you realize and accept your own.
  • Spend time with your family. They are also important, and time passes much too quickly. Don’t work your life away.
  • Take care of your own health. The phrase “Physician, heal thyself” came about for a reason. I didn’t appreciate the wisdom of this advice until my own health began to suffer.
  • Remember to practice kindness, empathy, and gratitude with patients, staff, and everyone around you. It’s the only way you will ever be happy.

For doctor supporters:

  • Take a moment to think about how the doctors you know have helped patients. Chances are a physician has made a huge impact on your life and on the lives of people you love.
  • Thank them for their work. Doctors don’t always hear those two little words—thank you—and when they do, it truly means a lot.
  • Manage up doctors with patients. This will show that we are all on the same team.
  • Do whatever you can to make a doctor’s day easier. Be as efficient as possible with reports and other information you provide them. In the end, this will benefit patients, too.
  • Remember that treating doctors with kindness, empathy, and gratitude will enhance your own happiness and the quality of the environment you work in.

Of course, you probably have your own ideas to add to the list. Just please do something for yourself or a physician you care about to commemorate this special occasion. Thanks to all of you who work so hard to provide exceptional care every day.

Warm regards,

Barbara Loeb, MD

Three Ways Your ED Can Survive and Thrive in the Future

March 23, 2011

“Excellence in the ED is as much about changing processes as it is about changing behaviors.” – Quint Studer

Last year, U.S. emergency departments served more than 119 million patients. Certainly, the tide will continue to rise in 2011. And with pay-for-performance on the horizon, the performance of your ED—the front door to the hospital—will be critical to your organization’s ability to survive and thrive throughout the rest of 2011 and beyond.

But here’s the thing: There’s no fairy dust to sprinkle. What works? Simple evidence-based tools and tactics that hardwire the delivery of efficient, quality patient-centered care and strong operational performance in the ED.

Tactics That Deliver Results

1. Maximize flow and throughput. What’s the best practice? Many high-performing EDs we coach move patients from arrival to discharge in 120 minutes, although nationally, the ED average is closer to three hours.

To identify your bottleneck, begin by tracking key metrics, like patient arrival-to-discharge and door-to-doc times. Looking for a big impact? Make it a goal to reduce door-to-doc time by 20 percent. (Use immediate bedding and streamline registration. Remember, triage is a process, not a place.)

2. Match staffing to flow and throughput. While many organizations try to change flow and throughput, far fewer ever adjust staffing to match it. Try this: Track patient arrivals over 24 hours. Then overlay your staffing pattern. If you are a typical ED, you’ll have too many staff members working during slow morning hours and not enough during crunch time. No need to add FTEs…just match staffing to patients.

3. Hardwire accountability. To really hardwire processes that drive measurable results quickly, use tools that validate that the prescribed behaviors are occurring with every patient every time. (You can download samples of hourly rounding logs, discharge phone call templates, sample bedside shift reports, and more here.)

And last, be committed to tackling tough issues that are barriers to excellence in your ED, whatever they may be.

In emergency medicine, what we do is never a job. It’s a calling. The good news is we have the answers to the challenges we face. Does it require change? Absolutely! But we’re good at change. Change is about choice, and choice is about us. Ultimately, it’s up to us.

Best wishes on your journey to excellence.

Yours in service,

Stephanie Baker

P.S. If you’re interested in drilling down on these and other tactics, please join me at Studer Group’s two-day Excellence in the Emergency Department Institute, June 29-30 in Chicago and November 8-9 in Las Vegas. Learn more here.

Effective Meetings: Two Powerful Communication Tips to Try Right Now

March 16, 2011

(Don’t miss the link at the bottom to a video clip diving deeper into this topic.)

What separates high performing individuals and groups from lower performing ones? Often there’s a simple answer: communication.

Because leaders are human, it’s unlikely we’ll ever communicate with 100 percent clarity and efficiency. The great news is there are things we can do that will lead to vast improvements in this vital area.

Here are two techniques we suggest leaders try. Both of them involve adjustments to the meetings you’re already holding:

  1. Synchronize meetings between senior leaders and direct reports. During your next senior leader team meeting, ask each leader when he or she meets with direct reports. It will become obvious why there is inconsistency in performance. Let’s say the senior leader team meets weekly on Tuesday afternoons. It is not unusual to learn that some leaders meet with their direct reports on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. Some may wait until Monday. Chances are very few hold their meetings late in the day on Tuesday (right after the senior team meeting).

    There is also inconsistency in how often senior leaders meet with direct reports. Some meet each week; others at least once every two weeks.

    So, what we have is a situation in which important items are being shared at different times (and at different frequencies) with key stakeholders. The result is that some staff members are taking action immediately. Others aren’t. And the staff members who haven’t yet had their meetings hear things through the grapevine from the others—which leads to confusion and misinformation being passed around.

    A good solution is to ask everyone on the senior leader team to hold their direct report meetings on the same day and (if possible) at the same time. This simple change will greatly reduce the time leaders spend reacting to people wondering if what they are hearing is correct. It will also ensure that everyone is taking the same actions consistently.

    Finally, holding all leader department meetings at the same time will make it much easier to pull the entire group together, if needed.

  2. During meetings, clarify exactly what will be communicated afterward. I find that in both senior leader meetings and department team leader meetings, very seldom is time allotted to discuss what needs to be communicated, when, how, and by whom. Taking time to do this will result in all leaders, and thus the organization, being on the same page.

    Experience has shown me that in most organizations it’s not the decisions that are the problem, it’s the communication around them. We spend all of our time and energy reaching decisions, then miss the opportunity to assure the best way to communicate those decisions. It’s this last 10 percent that makes the previous 90 percent pay off.

I urge you to try these two simple techniques. I think you’ll find they go a long way toward ensuring the optimal execution of the decisions you make.


Quint Studer

Quint Studer, CEO

Studer Group

Click the link for a video going into more detail on this topic. Blog Response

MORE Skills for a New Economy: A Message to All Employees

March 2, 2011

(Part Two of Two)

In Part One, we discussed the need for employees to take ownership of their roles and the organization’s mission for all to gain sustainable excellence in the challenging times ahead. We explored ways employees at all levels can show their value across the organization and own their own development.

Here are a few more tips for leaders to share with staff members as they strive to become more valuable (and valued) in today’s tough new economy:

Understand the Connection between Time and Money.

Think about ways to be more effective and help others. When building a budget, consider all factors—including salary (often the biggest expense in a project) and time to complete. Be aware that as a project drags past its deadline, the chance it will go over budget increases.

Here are a few ways to be a good steward of your organization’s resources:

  • Get in the habit of quantifying. Avoid words like “a lot” and other generalizations. Get very specific and require others to do the same. Countless hours (and endless money) can be spent on activities because of reports that there were “a lot” of requests. When we take time to quantify the requests, we often find that “a lot” really means just a few people.
  • Keep things simple. When projects get too complicated, they either don’t get completed, or they result in considerable overruns on budget and missed deadlines.
  • Get the to-do list reviewed regularly. Focus on tasks that connect to the organization’s business goals; reduce the busywork.
  • Get timelines, a deliverables schedule, and a budget on everything you do. This is step one on any project. Creating a framework in the beginning forces an employee to think things through and often eliminates READY, FIRE, AIM problems. Report back regularly as to whether the project is on time and on budget.
  • Learn to ask, “How will we measure results?” Asking this question in the beginning allows us to really evaluate whether the project is worthwhile. It keeps employees from starting dead-end projects with no value…and allows us to showcase successful projects for a nice win.
  • Don’t confuse activity with progress. Focus on what matters. Twenty percent of the work creates 80 percent of the results. Can you move that number?
  • Give regular updates on ongoing projects. Something may have changed, or someone may have a new idea to make it better. Be proactive to stay on course.
  • Review processes regularly to make sure they don’t need updating. Continue to re-evaluate the way things are done and search for improvements. Don’t fall into habits.
  • Ask, “Is there something I do that could be outsourced?” An employee should let leadership know if there is a part of his or her job that the company could do more quickly, more efficiently, or less expensively by outsourcing. In the long run, an employee who thinks like this will show more value to the organization and will soon be on his or her way to bigger and better things.
  • Learn to put the well-being of your team over your own comfort. Think, If it were my money on the line, my future at stake, what would I do?

Remember, Communication Is Everything!

Work to create an infrastructure whereby information can flow. Then, do everything possible to help effectively move that information through the process.

Here’s how:

  • Communicate early and often. It will increase the odds of success exponentially.
  • Be more than an e-mailer. Sometimes it’s best to pick up the phone. It builds relationships. Plus, real conversations spark new ideas, and too much back and forth over e-mail may slow down the process.
  • Share information anytime you can. Ask yourself, What do I know and who else can benefit from it?
  • Think strategically about your e-mail CC line. There’s a delicate balance between keeping busy people in the loop and overwhelming them with too much (unnecessary) information. When copying someone on an email, be sure to let the recipient know what is expected. 
  • Reach out to others. Set aside a few minutes each week to reach out to people you don’t see that often. It creates goodwill and is the first step in collaborating in a meaningful way.
  • When asking for help, give a timeline. It helps busy people know how to sequence their projects.
  • Be clear. It eases anxiety. Before hitting “send” on an e-mail correspondence, review the note to make sure all the questions are answered and there is clarity in the letter.
  • Report the good and the bad. We can learn so much from mistakes. Mistakes help pinpoint areas where we need to get better and create an internal sense of urgency.

Tough times are ahead, and we need to be owners of ourselves and our organization, not renters. Show value. Actively seek personal development opportunities. Maximize profitability. Communicate. Standards have never been higher—and more public—so now is the time for employees to strive for excellence at every level, every time.

Skills for a New Economy: A Message to All Employees

February 23, 2011

(Part One of Two)

We are living and working in tough times. The healthcare industry is changing, budgets are shrinking, and a national emphasis on quality means our outcomes need to keep getting better and better.

Even organizations with a strong culture and talented employees can’t afford to relax. There is an unprecedented need for excellence at every level, every time.

What does that mean for individuals? It means every employee needs to consistently show his or her value—to bosses, to coworkers, and to patients.

Here’s the message leaders need to convey to staff members: To gain the sustainable excellence we’ll need to meet the challenges that lie ahead, we all need to take ownership of our individual roles and our organization’s mission.

So how can an employee show value and do his or her best possible work every time? Here are a few insights and suggestions to share with staff:

Hone Your Ability to Transfer Your Value across the Organization.

As the external environment gets more complex, an individual’s ability to survive and succeed is directly related to the ability to connect the dots, show insight, and communicate well with others. It’s important to show value to peers and leaders, inside and outside of your department.

Here’s how:

  • Understand the group you support. Know your audience. It’s important that we all learn to manage our time with consideration to the time of those we work with.
  • Have a nose for money and opportunity. Be efficient. Look for opportunities and be known as a problem solver inside the company.
  • Periodically attend other department meetings. It’s amazing how a different perspective changes the way we view things. Not only does this help us understand how what we do affects others, a fresh pair of problem-solving eyes in the group may help resolve the problem.
  • Offer insight. Be an active participant and share key learnings with those not in the meeting.
  • Connect what you do to revenue. While it isn’t possible to do with every job, most positions do connect to revenue directly or indirectly. Understanding this and being able to articulate it can help show value.
  • Understand the external environment and the need for a culture of always. Knowing the state of our industry, it’s important to create a culture of always that constantly implements best practices—every time, on every occasion, without exception.
  • Step outside your comfort zone. Sometimes people are too close to a challenge to see a solution. A fresh perspective—yours—can help others in the organization “connect the dots” in a new way. Being willing to boldly offer insights from an “outsider” point of view is a great way to show individual value.

Own Your Professional Development.

When we make a conscious effort to learn new things, professional development happens organically. Seek out structured professional development and training while keeping in mind that some of the most effective growth happens in day-to-day interactions.

Here’s how to make it happen:

  • Evaluate your personal brand. Do you like what you see? If not, it’s time to make adjustments. If you do, it’s time to take your personal brand to the next level. It’s important for employees to be self-aware and to get their unique talents out there.
  • Search out best practices and use them. Studer Group has spent years inside our National Learning Lab of nearly 800 healthcare organizations researching, harvesting, and refining the best ideas for maximizing human potential. Become familiar with the theories and enable them to work.
  • Take constructive criticism well. Honest feedback is a critical part of professional development. Think carefully about how to respond when feedback that is less than positive comes in.
  • Duplicate yourself. Mentor and teach whenever possible. Not only is it good for the organization (it frees you up for other things), it is incredibly rewarding.

The tips noted here focus on an individual’s personal value, brand, and development. In Skills for a New Economy, Part Two, we will focus on how each employee can take these skills to the whole company through maximizing profitability and communication.


Quint Studer

Quint Studer, CEO
Studer Group

Six Days of Suggestions to Keep the LOVE in February

February 14, 2011

I love February! Want to know why? Well, first off, it means we’ve made it through January—and thank goodness, because January is always a tough month with the end of the holidays, putting away the decorations, paying the bills, ugghh…And then of course there is the January weather! Wow, this year has been awful with the record cold temperatures and terrible winter storms. I landed in Atlanta one day and saw big piles of snow on the runways…What’s up with that? So when February 1 rolled around, I said good riddance to January; now we are in the home stretch of winter.

But that is not the only reason I love February: I also love February because as we make our way to spring, we get our shortest month…28 fast days. And to top it all off, smack dab in the middle of those 28 days is Valentine’s Day, the day devoted to love. How magnificent!

I am urging all of you to really celebrate the holiday of love this year, and to use it as the perfect catalyst to chase out any negativity that crept back in during January after the fun of the holiday season or even stuck with you during the first part of February. When I was working at Holy Cross Hospital, we celebrated Valentine’s Day for an entire week, and when you do that, you can’t help but chase away the winter blahs and the negativity that goes with it.

So here are six days’ worth of suggestions to choose from:

  1. Coworkers. Remember how fun it was to get those cute valentines in those little envelopes at school? Guess what: It still is! Can you imagine looking in your mailbox at work and finding ten tiny cards? Encourage your colleagues to pick out valentines that best suit them, like Bob the Builder from the person who’s always remodeling their home, or Snoopy from a pet lover, or Strawberry Shortcake from a petite team member.
  2. Customers. These can be patients or internal customers. For patients, you could give red pens with pink hearts on them along with the hospital’s or department’s name. You also could have something printed on the pens such as, “We love our imaging patients.” Internal departments could do something sweet for their customers: IS/IT Departments could spend time out on the units cleaning keyboards, and Marketing Departments could coordinate a poster contest for support departments to acknowledge the internal departments that they serve. The posters could be displayed and voted on in the cafeteria.
  3. Colleagues. How about those folks in other departments who make your life easier? For example, simple cards signed by everyone in your department given to the cafeteria folks who always wait that extra minute when you are running late to catch the last serving time, or to the housekeepers who know what your floor needs even before you page them are sure to be appreciated.
  4. Physicians. We know that Doctor’s Day is in March, but how about a little preview? You could do baskets of those conversation hearts or Hershey’s kisses in the physicians’ lounge or at the doctors’ entrance if you have a separate one. An amusing heart-shaped sign above each basket (I mean, you want them to know where the treats came from!) could read, “At ABC Medical Center, we love our physicians,” or, “Memorial physicians are really sweet”…Okay, maybe that’s a little too much, but you get the idea.
  5. Families and visitors. Imagine how great it would be if one day during Valentine’s week, visitors were surprised with free coffee and heart-shaped cookies. The treats don’t have to be extravagant or costly—just a cart with some decorations and perhaps a placard that reads, “We love our families and friends.”
  6. Staff. If you are a leader, now is the perfect time to let your team know how much you appreciate them. My all-time favorite, which also became a tradition, were heart-shaped pink bagels…Yep, I said pink bagels. A local bagel place did them every year, and of course they were served with strawberry cream cheese. Baskets of candy also work, as does sending flowers because they last for several days (meaning several shifts).

I promise you, with all this love and celebration going on for a week, it will chase negativity right out of the place. The next thing you know, it will be February 21…Then, poof, only one more week ’til the end of the month. And we all know what that means: March and, hallelujah, SPRING!

Liz Jazwiec is a recognized national speaker and author of Eat That Cookie!, winner of the AJN 2010 Book of the Year Award.

How Much Evidence Is Enough?

February 11, 2011

If it doesn’t directly impact clinical care, is it still worth doing? That’s the question I was recently asked while speaking to a physician group.

(Before I go any further, let me say that I welcome having my beliefs questioned. It’s one of the benefits of being able to travel all around the country and interact with so many wonderful people. I have many opportunities to learn and to become better.)

Anyway, a physician in the room stated that he did not believe the patient satisfaction survey was of much value due to the fact that it does not impact clinical outcomes. He also felt that a patient could be very satisfied, yet not receive good clinical care.

Let me address the second comment first. I agree. It is possible for patients to rate their care high in a survey and still not receive great clinical care. This is where an organization’s values come in. I don’t know of any organization that feels good if patient satisfaction is high and quality is not.

The inverse is also true. Many times an organization’s clinical quality can be excellent but other issues can lead patients to feel they did not receive excellent clinical care.

My comment the other day to a group of physicians in an academic medical center was, “Let’s have the patient’s perception of care match the clinical quality you are providing.”

Now, let’s go back to the challenge that started this blog entry: My first attempt to link the survey to the issue of clinical care was to read the questions. How well was your pain managed? How well were your needs responded to? How well were your questions answered? How well were things explained to you? How well were your home care instructions explained? I explained that I feel each of these can impact clinical care.

The physician disagreed, stating that these issues still may not change the clinical outcome. I then said, “So if a patient’s clinical outcome will not be impacted, then you don’t want your patient’s pain managed? Nor call lights answered?” The physician answered that of course he would want these steps to be taken.

That’s when it hit me. While I can connect the dots and also show more research that indicates a connection between patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes, the evidence really isn’t the point. There are times when even if actions do not impact the clinical outcome, certain behaviors and actions still need to be done.

Hospice caregivers do great work. Do their efforts change the clinical outcome? My first grandchild was stillborn. While the care and support given to my son and daughter-in-law did not change the clinical outcome, were they worthwhile? Yes, without a doubt.

Why do some people fight making some basic changes? I can’t take inventory for others, but based on years of experience, I do have some observations of my own.

For some people, it has to do with not being comfortable. If I am asked to do something that I am not comfortable doing and can come up with a reason not to do it, I have found a way to stay in my comfort zone. For others, I believe it is the fear of failure. They would rather not try at all than try and fail. I believe this is one reason best practices are hard to transfer in healthcare.

Some people may feel they are the voice for others. Have you ever noticed when someone is pushing back, he or she may often say, “Everyone,” “Most people,” or “Others,” rather than coming out and saying, “Here is how I feel.” Still others may feel they need more data before they can make a change.

It’s that last group of people, the data-seekers, who bring me back to the point. How much evidence is enough to make a change worthwhile?

I have come to this conclusion: There are times in life when we do the behavior even though there is not overwhelming research data to support it. We do it because it is the right thing to do. I can think of no reason more powerful than that one.


Quint Studer

Quint Studer, CEO
Studer Group

Analyzing HCAHPS: Two Resources on a Hot Topic

April 14, 2010

In the past, hospitals have used a variety of mechanisms to measure patient satisfaction. That is about to change. The reason? HCAHPS scores. This standardized patient survey tool is the only one that a) provides a true “apples to apples” comparison, b) overtly connects to clinical outcomes, and c) shares its results with the public.

More and more hospitals are taking notice of HCAHPS—and since the results are posted online for the world to see, so are more and more consumers. If you want to know how your organization is really doing, this is the only patient survey tool you need.

Recently, I had the honor of being interviewed by Becker’s Hospital Review on the subject. I invite you to read the resulting article: “Quint Studer: Using HCAHPS to Drive Patient Satisfaction.”

Also, last month on my radio show I interviewed Karen Cook, RN, on HCAHPS results, how they connect to quality and clinical outcomes, and what hospitals can do to effectively use this data.

One of the nation’s leading HCAHPS experts, Karen has more than 20 years of clinical nursing and management experience in healthcare. She has been particularly successful in helping organizations reduce turnover and empower nurses to participate in creating great work environments.

Click here to listen to my interview with her (it’s broken into three segments). As you can see, HCAHPS is a “game changer” for our industry. I hope you will take advantage of these two resources to learn more about it and what it means for our industry’s future.