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Ask Yourself Two Questions about Nursing Behaviors and Patient Satisfaction

December 17, 2015

Proven service excellence programs like Disney or the Studer Group, have moved hospitals light years ahead of where they were a decade ago. Many hospitals have gone from bad to good, but many still struggle getting to excellent. From a recent article in FierceHealthcare: “If you want to go (if you'll pardon the business cliché), from good to great, the key is not to focus primarily on . . . service excellence, argues Fred Lee, a patient relations and service consultant and author of "If Disney Ran Your Hospital."

You read that right: The author of one of the best-known books on service excellence in the healthcare industry says you should not focus solely on service excellence in your quest to improve patient satisfaction scores … read more.

Lee . . ., said hospitals that "hardwire" patient satisfaction and service excellence and concepts such as courtesy have maxed out the potential of these efforts."

A service of courtesy is not enough in our business if we are not also meeting people's emotional needs," Lee said.

hosptial questions 92211370It’s one thing for the concierge at the Ritz to go above and beyond, but he doesn’t need to connect to a customer’s emotions or calm him in naturally unsettling situation. In hospitals, emotions and behaviors have a big impact on the patient experience. Two nurses can use the same treatment technique or read from the same baseline script. The one with higher emotional intelligence, awareness and compassion will do a better job making the patient and family comfortable or pick up on non-verbal cues as to their needs. Great examples from the article:

Patient perceptions are based on nonverbal cues that the patient doesn't even know they're picking up on," Lee said. A nurse who's frowning as she concentrates on finding a vein? That tells the patient that if this nurse finds a vein it will be pure luck.

On the other hand, a nurse who comes in and, as she's looking for that vein, assures the patient that she's accomplished and that although it might hurt a bit she's going to be as gentle as possible? That patient's perception will be quite different--and his outcome and experience will be more positive, too.

Behavioral assessments and structured interviews have an important role in nurse staffing.

  1. How would you identify the nurse in the second example during the traditional hiring process?It’s a trick question. You can’t. Using the science of selection, though behavioral pre-employment assessments and structured behavioral interviews – you significantly increase your odds.
  2. What training would change the behaviors of the first nurse?

You can only give her so many scripts. At some point, her levels of awareness, patient-focus and empathy come into play. Training only has a chance if it is built on her baseline behavioral makeup.

Reducing Turnover in Healthcare

Bryan Warren Bryan Warren is the President of J3 Personica, a consulting, assessment, training, and coaching firm, and a guest blogger for PSI. Bryan is an expert in progressive talent strategies, with a particular focus on leader and physician selection and development.