By Jay Juffre

I was recently talking with a director of a large regional health system. She was lamenting the fact that throughout the division she manages, there is a huge bell curve in how doctors, nurses and the general staff treat patients. Whether it be a last-minute cancellation (or rescheduling) by a doctor, how a nurse handles a particular situation, or a staff member who makes a patient wait forever without a simple update. Despite years of beating the ‘patient first’ drum, she has mixed results. She asked me, ‘How do I get everyone to give the same excellent patient experience?’ My response was simply, ‘That is impossible.’ There is no way your worst team member can ever be as good as your best. However, what is possible is to narrow the gap, by focusing on being more consistent. Most organizations, whether they are in health care or not, have clear, non-negotiable, standards which are clearly spelled out and the team knows they need to follow. For example, try being and employee and using “No Problem” (vs. “My pleasure”) at Chick-fil-A, pointing with one finger (vs. two) at Disney World, or not using a guest’s name when greeting them at the Ritz Carlton. The most difficult part of this is getting buy in. The easiest way to do this is by doing two things: First, assume that everyone on your team wants to do a great job when it comes to patient care/experience. Secondly, parlay that desire into conversation that will drive consensus on the fundamentals. Focus on best practices, simplicity, and common sense. Come up with a short list of things the team agrees to never do when dealing with patients and their families. Share it. Train to it. Hold each other accountable to execute. You can narrow the gap and that will result in a consistent overall experience. Your scores will soon reflect your efforts.

Jay Juffre is Executive Vice President, ImageFIRST. For more information on ImageFIRST, call 1-800-932-7472 or visit www.imagefirst.com.