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by Lynn McVey
My intention here is to discuss evidence-based management practices. But first, I want to discuss Beyoncé. I was fortunate enough to see her show at The Barclay Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., last week.
The show sold out in 60 seconds but amazingly, I was able to buy the very last seat in the house, so I went by myself and arrived early.
The employees wore very large name tags. As I entered Sharon extended her hand to shake mine. "Welcome to Barclays!" she said with a smiling, proud face. "Thanks!" I replied with as much enthusiasm. Sharon was certainly infectious. I was immediately impressed with the Barclay culture.
"Know where I can find a cup of coffee, Rondell?" I asked another employee upstairs near my section. "Sure," he said and gave me perfect directions.
As I waited for the Starbucks kiosk to be set-up, I asked Brenda how she liked working at Barclay's. "I love it here!" she gushed. "We all love it here!" She explained that Barclay's held group interviews and by process of elimination, they selected the new employees.
Apparently, they chose correctly. "You've waited too long for your coffee, this is on the house," Brenda said. As a hospital CEO, I was so amazed by what was happening to me.
As I walked back to my section, the hallways were now crowded and buzzing with excitement. I hear, "I'm glad you found the Starbucks without any problem." I look up to see smiling, proud Rondell. I would give up a kidney to have those smiles and that pride permeate throughout my hospital.
When we talk about culture, or service excellence, or customer satisfaction, or the patient experience, we are not using evidence-based language. Any of those words are open to personal interpretation. All of those words are emotional and cannot be visualized. When we tell our staff we want them to have a positive attitude, what do you think that means to them?
The foundation of management is to define, with crystal clear clarity, the goals we want met, and the consequences for not meeting those goals. We need to write scripts for our employees so they know exactly what to say. We need to instruct them to look up when approached and to maintain eye contact. We need to tell them to smile at the patients. We need to practice this with role playing. We need to empower them to say "You waited too long. Please accept this box of homemade cookies." Evidence-based management means using objective language.
When a physician tells me, "The nurses on the 3rd floor suck." Immediately I know he hasn't yet been baptized by evidence-based management. After I drill down his statement several layers, I ultimately discover he could not find nurse Janie Friday morning when he needed her. I then explain I can actually help him when he uses evidence-based statements, but nobody can do anything with, "The nurses on the 3rd floor suck."
Donald Berwick claims there is 30 percent of waste in our healthcare system. I agree with him. Evidence-based medicine is hoped to be the Holy Grail of the Affordable Care Act. Well, evidence-based management can do the same to uncover inefficiencies in our hospitals.
We have a choice. We can allow 30 percent of our hospitals to close. Or, we can use evidence-based management practices to unearth 30 percent of efficiencies and keep them all open.
Lynn McVey serves as CEO and president of Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, an acute care, 230-bed hospital in New Jersey
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