Over the last twenty five years, I’ve often felt like a stranger in the heatlhcare world. Each day I coped with rooms filled with individuals who had finely tuned left brains that were bathed at every opportunity in quantitative information. This was such a phenomena to me that I became a student and then somewhat of an expert on this topic. What made them tick? Why did we see the world in such diametrically opposed ways?
Working in that environment often took me to the precipice of despair as my ideas were dismissed as frivolous, my thought patterns seen as radical and too progressive and my career opportunities stomped on by leaders who, for the most part, saw the world in a very similarly left brained manner.
At each meeting, a history lesson revolving around previously memorialized numbers was the primary topic of discussion. Most of the time, these numbers simply raised more and more questions, but, regardless, were seen as the most important part of these sessions. When ideas were presented regarding impacting these numbers that were not quantitative and linear ideas, the rejections could not come fast enough from the lips of the various levels of leadership. And when qualitative solutions were added that worked, they were still seen as the first thing to be cut in any budget crises. (What ever happened to mission?)
Well, as with Karma, sooner or later life throws changes at us, and to many of my former peers, these changes have been incomprehensible, overwhelming and completely stiffling. Why? Well, for the first time in my adult life, quantitative is equally as important as qualitative in the world of healthcare. Think of it. Your patient goes home from the hospital and in the safety of their own house gets a survey from CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) that asks them, (Are you ready for this?) qualitative questions. If that isn’t bad enough, depending upon how these questions are answered, your budget could be disrupted horribly, and it won’t be a matter of just lowering the quality of toilet paper to make up the difference.
HCHAPS are making hundreds of my former peers ask questions like, “How much are we going to be cut this year due to poor patient responses?” More importantly, many of them are finally asking, “How can we change our scores?”
Like I said, it’s Karma.
My formula was relatively easy, but it took a balance of right and left brain to implement it. You see, no matter what you think, life is emotional, and when we base decisions on emotions, entirely new challenges appear? “Did your nurses treat you nice?” “Did you get any sleep?” “Did your doctor explain things appropriately?” These types of qualitative questions require a different approach to life and to care . . . it’s “Not just the facts!”
In order to be successful in this new healthcare environment, there is a tremendous need for you and your staff to stop and act like human beings on all levels, to reach out to people, to build relationships, to nurture relationships, to mingle, to care, to be transparent, to pay attention to the root causes of numbers that may evolve from something other than algorithms and more numbers.
It’s time to consider balancing right with left brain; to do exercises that challenge your creative and humanistic deficiencies; to realize that it is not your full time job to simply react analytically. We are now in an era of qualitative and quantitative like never before, and if you want to thrive and survive, it is not good enough to have HCHAP scores lower than the average prison hospital.
It is time to look at how you treat your employees . . . do they have HOPE? Do you ever embrace their ideas and dreams? It is time to embrace the families with transparency, honesty, openness, and, when appropriate, sympathy. It is time to wake up and pass out the roses.