I continue to visit healthcare organizations and engage with leaders globally
there are clear emerging trends at the heart of effective efforts to address
the patient and family experience. In my recent series of blogs I suggest we
must recognize the implications
of patient perceptions as a focus of our patient experience efforts. I
support this by reinforcing that culture is a critical choice for organizations to consider in
terms of how they look to shape those perceptions. In fact we cannot overlook
the centrality of culture to the very definition of patient experience overall. I add that it is on a
strong cultural foundation that we can then ensure a sense of engagement for our staff and
missing piece in this important dialogue is that of building a foundation of
accountability in our healthcare organizations. It has been identified as a top
issue for healthcare leaders during my On the Road visits and at our Regional Roundtable gatherings. In looking at all
the suggested paths and plans to accountability some general themes emerge.
a basis for accountability in organizations requires a number of committed
actions. Without these organizations run the risk of falling short on their
defined patient experience objectives. They include:
- Establish focused standards/expectations – Determine and clearly
define what you expect in behaviors and actions as you create a culture of
- Set clear consequences for inaction and rewards and recognition for
action – Be
willing to reinforce expectations consistently and use as opportunities for
- Provide learning opportunities to understand and see expectations in action – Ensure staff at all
levels are clear on expected behaviors and consequences.
- Communicate expectations, reinforcing what and why consistently and
– Keep expectations top of mind and be clear that these are part of who you are
as an organization in every encounter.
- Observe and evaluate staff at all levels providing feedback and/or
coaching as needed – Turn actual encounters, good or bad, into learning moments and
opportunities to ensure people are clear on expected behaviors and actions.
- Execute on consequences immediately and thoughtfully – Respond rapidly when
people miss the mark (or when people excel) to ensure people are aware of the
importance of your expectations.
- Revisit expectations often to ensure they meet the needs and objectives
of the organization – Remember standard/expectations are dynamic and change with your
organization’s needs. They must stay in tune with who you are as an
organization (your values) and where you intend to go (your vision).
has been tossed around more and more in conversations today in healthcare
organizations as something that leaders want to see more of. The reality is
that accountability is not just something you simply expect and it just
miraculously appears, it is something you must intentionally create
expectations for and reinforce. As with patient experience itself,
accountability needs a plan in order to ensure effective execution.
often speak of patient experience efforts as a choice; one that requires
rigorous work. This is overcoming something I call the performance paradox, which helps us recognize that many things we
see as simple, clear and understandable are not always easy, trouble-free and
painless to do. Yet I would suggest we have no other choice. As a positive
patient experience is something we owe to our patients and their families in
our healthcare settings, creating and sustaining a culture of accountability is
something we actually owe to our staff in supporting their ability to create
Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D.