In today’s competitive healthcare market hospitals must improve. Healthcare executives and managers should constantly be searching for better and faster ways to deliver efficient patient care. Lean Healthcare principles challenge us to continually remove waste and improve our processes—it also challenges us to focus on improving the patient experience.
So how do you track patient experience? How fast can you respond to negative (or positive) patient incidents? While there are numerous ways to collect and analyze this data, one of the simplest is to listen to your patients. Do you know what they are saying about your hospital to their friends, acquaintances, and even strangers?
Remember the days when we used to have time to solve problems and let solutions develop? Well, those days are long gone. We live in a world that moves quickly. Not only do we have access to virtually all the public information we want, we have it whenever and wherever we need it. Social networks like Twitter and Facebook allow the world to read other patients’ experiences and share information in real time.
The game has changed. Healthcare organizations cannot afford to take a “wait-and-see” approach. The culture of social media is here to stay and the sooner your organization includes a strategy to use social media data to improve, the less distance you will have to make up later.
Here’s a potential situation to consider: a patient tweets about a terrible experience in a hospital emergency department. In a matter of seconds hundreds of potential patients are alerted to this patient’s dissatisfaction. The message gets retweeted, and suddenly thousands of people know of the bad experience.
Why not leverage social media to enhance operational efficiency and patient satisfaction? You can capture social media in real time, alert the proper process owner to mitigate the process breakdown, and create a near instant dialogue to solve a problem. This can be an operational game changer.
Change your Buzz
Process Improvement and Lean Healthcare methods will provide the framework within which to define the most appropriate use of social media data. Teams can learn how social media tools can be used to improve patient care by collecting and monitoring information your organization has available through HIPAA-approved blogs and social media posts. Here are a few strategies to get you started:
- Acquire Data: Appoint a manager of social media information. Define what data is available and how easy is it to access or acquire from your organization’s social media channels.
- Identify Trends: Look for trends that are satisfiers and dissatisfiers, identify what process or parts of the organization get highlighted the most.
- Transfer Knowledge: Define who in the organization would benefit from the information. Develop a process to transfer knowledge and learning. Use the information for continuous improvement and best practice development.
- Support Collaboration: Encourage teams to support a dialogue of thinking, collaborate with process owners, management and physicians. Create dialogue for thinking together, capturing group ideas, and putting them in to action.
- Integrate Lessons Learned: Tell the stories, and learn from the positives and breakdowns. Make the lessons actionable.
- Use the Knowledge to Educate: Learn from the voice of customer and educate the organization.
- Repair Process Breakdowns: Use the information to remove waste, redesign or realign processes.
- Be Cautious: While almost all industries are communicating with their customers via social media, the healthcare industry must factor in an added layer of patient privacy. Make sure your social media standard work (i.e., responses to patient posts and comments) are HIPAA compliant.
The only thing we know for sure is that healthcare is changing. The culture in which we live impacts our life and job. Whether you like it or not, there is no doubt that social media has changed the way we think and share. So, what do we do? We start with one step forward. Just make sure it’s 140 characters or less.
Today’s blog was written by Jack Datz, Executive Director at HPP.
Jack has a 20-year successful track record in healthcare consulting, industry management and leadership experience. He has successfully implemented many programs that focus on process efficiency, management development, and patient satisfaction in clinical and non-clinical settings. He is recognized nationally as a change leader with extensive background in turning healthcare organizations into best-in-class operations, cost and quality. He has extensive experience in the implementation of process transformation, Lean and Continuous Improvement.
Jack received his B.A. from University of Northern Colorado. Additionally, he is trained in GE leadership and is certified from GE as a Six Sigma black belt.