My Websters dictionary defines culture as the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought typical of a population or community at a given time.
Our healthcare community is focusing on many differing cultures these days, and many people are struggling to find which one fits each organization. There is the culture of service excellence, the Lean (manufacturing) culture, the culture of safety, the patient-first cultureall of which have their place. But they also can send conflicting messages to staff about the hospitals true mission.
Our healthcare delivery systems need to have a culture of people. People are our business and they run our business.
If we start by employing our people based on their abilities in this industry and design their work environments to make the most efficient use of their time, we meet the requirements of the Lean process.
If we instill in all of our employees that they have the right and obligation to listen to and learn from customers, and let them know that they are accountable for their actions and that we will be fair in evaluating their performance, we will have embedded service excellence, safety and meaning into our business.
Unfortunately, all of this is easier said than done. Healthcare administrators are businesspeople who are hired to make money. That is not a bad thing by any means, but executives and boards tend to focus attention on no margin, no mission.
What if we changed that old adage to no mission, no margin? Staff could make decisions to fix problems in the care environment or in customer service without having to worry about being second-guessed solely because of money issues.