If you entered your healthcare facility with no one aware of your executive status, would you be met with kindness, courtesy and compassion? Or would you be just another face in the crowd walking through the halls?
Everything patients experience at your site creates an opportunity to be lifted when they’re feeling most vulnerable. Those touchpoints also carry the risk of increasing their anxiety and fear. While each interaction will be perceived uniquely, depending on the person, the best way to develop a sense of empathy for what your patients and employees experience is to discover what they see, hear, taste, touch and feel yourself.
In an attempt to experience as close to the patient experience as possible firsthand, some healthcare executives regularly practice “mystery shopping” within their own organization. To have the most authentic experience of what takes place on any given day, you’ll want to arrive unannounced and navigate your time there alone. Your goal is to see through the lens of your patients and employees, paying attention to both the physical environment and employee interactions taking place.
- Are the waiting areas, exam rooms, etc. well-kept and welcoming?
- Are garbage cans overflowing, wheelchairs left in the middle of the hall and bathrooms in need of servicing?
- Are staff members smiling, making eye contact and initiating conversations to assist patients and their families?
- Or are they busy with their phones, chatting with colleagues and avoiding contact unless they’re approached
Your day as a medical mystery shopper will help you determine if the culture is one where everyone acts with intention to deliver excellent service and compassionate care, or if there’s a need for cultural transformation.
Jake Poore, president of Integrated Loyalty Systems Inc., is passionate about elevating the human side of healthcare and reminds us in his article “Become the Next-Tier High-Reliability Organization” that little gestures, such as sitting with patients, making eye contact, listening, holding a hand (with permission), speaking in a language they understand and explaining processes, can have a big impact and greatly enhance the human side of healthcare.