Archive for October, 2007

A Fresh Look at Standards of Behavior

October 9, 2007

Is it time to review your organization’s standards of behavior? 

Standards of behavior are developed with the goal that, if followed, several critical results will follow: 

  • Patients will perceive excellent care
  • Staff will feel positive about organization
  • Physicians will find the practice of medicine efficient and effective

Given the importance of having standards that directly support your organizational goals, is it time to take your standards to the next level?  To update them?  In organizations across the nation we are beginning to see the next generation of standards of behavior.  

At Delray Medical Center in Florida, some of the units have reviewed the organization’s standards and made commitments on how to implement them within their unit. For example, their Med/Tele unit has such commitments as, “I will take responsibility for hourly rounds to assess my patients’ needs” and “I will round with the attending physician when requested.” 

Standards are put in place so staff can have input into the type of work environment in which they work best. Thereby, expectations are clear.   There is consistency in performance so patients receive better care, and departments and staff work well together. 

When standards are used well, patients, their families, physicians and the staff benefit. When written but not followed, the standards become one of those ideas that made sense, took time and effort to write, had promise, but are sitting in the program/buzzword graveyard. 

If your organization is not achieving your goals in these areas, it is a strong possibility that the standards are not being followed by some within your organization. To see if this is the case, have Human Resources audit the departments that are not achieving positive staff, patient and physician satisfaction. 

Oftentimes these audits will find that the standards are not being addressed.  Staff is either not being written up for not following standards, or not being recognized for following them.  There is usually little proof that the standards are being emphasized by the leader at all, which means that there could be a leadership problem in a low performing department. 

What is permitted is promoted. You may have a leader who needs more mentoring, coaching or, in some cases, removal. 

In summary, we all get off track. This may be a great time to assess how well your organization is using the standards of behavior. The insight you gain may help you take your standards to the next level.

If you are using standards well, please let me know. There are always organizations looking for better or best practices.  If you have a success story, please share.  If you need advice or have a question, please ask. 

Thank you for your commitment to making health care even better.


P.S. I know that many readers of this blog are concerned about whether their organization is ready for the increased transparency of information that will be available to the public through the HCAHPS survey. We recently taped a webinar on this topic that shows how to use specific, field tested tools to increase patients’ perception of care in your organization and how to impact HCAHPS with evidence based practices.  You can learn more here HCAHPS Update 2007 Webinar.

Please add your comments to this blog and share your thoughts with our readers. We can all benefit from each other’s experiences.