If you ever find yourself rolling your eyes at all the endless reports on process improvement or the meetings devoted to business restructuringall of it in incomprehensible business speakyou might want to take the time to sit down and read a new book called Masterpieces in Health Care Leadership. Edited by Vince Pelote and Lynne Route of daVinci Consulting, the book is powerful because of its clarity and simplicity of approach.
Of singing and foot rubs
And other crazy things behind good hospital service
It reveals how masterpiece healthcare institutions are doing such a wonderful job of taking care of patients. The many contributors to the book spent quite a long time visiting with and talking to the people who work in and run these organizations.
It is one of the most powerful, first-hand testaments from real people who share their philosophies, fears, experiences and passion for what they do. Once you start this book, you will have difficulty putting it down because these stories are about how people in the industry think and feel and about how much better things would be if everyone would only follow the keep it simple dictum.
For instance, in the section devoted to
41-bed Clinton (Mass.) Hospital, there is an interview with one of the managers about follow-up phone calls by the nursing staff members. The manager states in the book that, My vision as manager was to enable the staff to see how their work made a difference. When I first introduced the idea of follow-up phone calls, the staff replied, I cant believe you want us to do this now. What are you talking about?
The manager replies by telling the staff, I think its a good thing. It gives us a chance to see whats going on. Are the patients okay? Do they still have chest pain and need to come back? She reinforces her belief by telling them, Come on. We have to do it. Lets do it. Eventually they all began to do it and to no ones surprise the response from patients was very favorable.
The manager gives her assessment: The staff reports that it is a little time-consuming, but assuming I was the patient on the other end of the phone, I would be happy to hear from the nurse that saw me. Also, we realize that it is a big, big plus for this place. ... I hear people say, I cant believe you guys do this; it is so fantastic!
Staff at 373-bed Fairview Hospital, part of Cleveland Clinic, describe the little things they do to make patients stays easier. One talks about a housekeeper who buys reading glasses and carries them on her cart as she makes her rounds. If she sees someone is struggling to see, she gives the patient a pair of glasses. Then there is the housekeeper who sings to her patients. Another Fairview staffer says, When we see someone who is hopelessly lost in the hospital, our people dont point him or her in the general direction. Rather, they walk them down the hall to their intended destination.
One housekeeper went out of her way to protect one of the nurses. It seems a patient was very upset with the way she was being treated by the nurse and let everyone know she was not happy. After a short conversation, the housekeeper asked the patient if she had ever had a foot massage. The patient said no and the housekeeper then told her she was going to give her one. After the massage the patient forgot all about the problem she had with the nurse.
The richness of this book comes from people in the field telling personal stories about what they do and how it affects patients. What comes through is a total commitment to making the patient the center of the universe. Everyone, nurses, housekeepers, administrators and workers on the dock, knows that what they do plays an important role in the hospitals reason for existence, taking care of people.
Simple stuff, really!
Charles S. Lauer is the former vice president-publishing and editorial director of Modern Healthcare. He now is a consultant to the healthcare industry and also serves on the boards of healthcare companies.
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