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This month's blog post extends from both my January and February posts. In January, I shared how short-sighted financial decisions hurt patient experience.
In February, I discussed my new role as primary caregiver to my mom, suggesting that instead of focusing on patient experience, we should look at the human experience.
One comment on the January post serves as a good segue for the rest of this piece.
"Health and wellness, just as death and dying, affect all of us. Clinicians and administrators share in the wins and defeats in healthcare. As nurses, we need to be in the mix, collaborating with various stakeholders, while holding the hand of another human being to ease their suffering."
Since last month's blog post, things only worsened. My sister, whose experience of care I wrote about, passed away Jan. 15, less than a month after her cancer diagnosis.
In some ways it was like two people died. My mother not only lost her daughter but also now faces the reality that after a decade of living with her daughter in Florida, she has to move to North Carolina. My wife and I spent our time in Florida grieving for my sister while starting to pack up mom for a move to an independent living residence not far from us.
I work in both the hospital and the long-term care/aging space. And I know a fair amount of what it takes to be a family caregiver--Heck, Forbes cited me in an article about turning caregiving from a burden into an opportunity.
Well, I thought I knew.
I have spent a lot of time in hospitals recently as my sister was diagnosed with an aggressive lung cancer.
One observation that should be of no surprise - you wait and you wait and you wait. That has been the experience of care for her in two different hospitals in the Melbourne, Fla., area over the holidays. Waiting--an extra hour beyond when your pain medications are due. Waiting--more than an hour after your respiratory treatment was due.
Make no mistake. The staff is apologetic and overworked. Without saying it in words, they know delays impact care, outcomes and ultimately patient experience. And they are quick to volunteer the reason why--understaffing.
At a meeting of the Healthcare Planning and Marketing Society of New Jersey, I spoke about the intersection of patient experience and marketing and why they are tied at the hip. When all is said and done, word of mouth (WOM) is your most important marketing tool.
"In many cases, WOM isn't actually "marketing" at all. It's great customer service that earns customer respect," according to Andy Sernovitz, author of "Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking."
Change customer to patient, or better yet "person," and respect to loyalty and you have the essence of the connection. The experience of care is the marketing.
I and other authors here on Hospital Impact spend a lot of time preaching about the experience of care and how we should approach it and why we need to pay attention to it. Perhaps there is a simpler way to get both leadership and front-line staff engaged. Tell them they are both chief experience officer and chief marketing officer for the organization. Because you know what, they are.
Working on both sides of the aisle so to speak, I get to see the best and the worst of both the hospital world and the long-term care world. And recently long-term care has gotten beaten up, more so than usual.
Hospital folks you need to take note because increasingly you are looking for partners in skilled nursing, rehabilitation and assisted living who can provide high-quality care while reducing readmissions.
When doing your homework, you may want to get a primer on what has been happening lately. First there was a scathing Frontline report on life and death in assisted living. And the largest assisted living chain was severely thrown under the bus.
That is important to note for a few reasons. As the largest chain, there was an expectation of quality and a perception of quality. Those positive perceptions would typically make it easier for hospital administrators to choose partners. Yet with one airing of a television program, those perceptions and warm and fuzzy feelings went bye-bye.
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