Hospital Execs: See and Be Seen

Posted on December 19, 2013


As competition increases and patient safety becomes even more critical, hospital executives are literally "making the rounds" to make sure patient satisfaction is on the upswing.  If your C-suite team and senior managers aren't doing the same, it could be sending the wrong message to your patients and your staff.

An Executive Rounds Program can help build trust, promote change and establish meaningful relationships between frontline staff and top management.  When your senior leaders are seen on the frontlines, they're visibly demonstrating that patient safety is a top priority - to everyone.

Here are six tips for developing and implementing a program in your hospital:

  1. Get everyone on board: Get commitment from executive leadership as well as the board. Also be sure to inform all staff of the purpose and process of the "executive rounds program" so they feel comfortable sharing information with executives.
  2. Schedule rounds in advance: (e.g., up to six months) so they are completed on a consistent basis. If a scheduled round is cancelled, it can give frontline staff the impression that patient safety is not a priority. Also, try to schedule rounds to avoid high activity times or shift changes.
  3. Provide execs with a template: Develop a template that allows executives to communicate in their own style but provides a format that helps keep each round/session on track.
  4. Document key findings: Create a standard form for documenting issues and feedback during conversations with staff. Also consider developing a database that includes feedback by category, date, time, location and other pertinent information. This can be used to help track events and follow-up steps.
  5. Implement a process for timely feedback: This critical component of the rounds program is often overlooked. Strategies for communicating feedback could include emails to individual staff members; thank-you cards for staff who participated; newsletter articles; monthly departmental reports; town hall meetings; celebrations to highlight successes related to the executive rounds program.
  6. Measure effectiveness: Use evidenced-based tools to help you measure the effectiveness of your executive rounds program, e.g., perceptions of management, safety, willingness to report errors or fear of reporting errors.

Now more than ever, it pays (in the form of patient safety and satisfaction scores) for executives to see - and be seen - making the rounds.

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Where Does Your Brand Stand?

Posted on December 6, 2013


I like to keep up on the latest studies and trends in rural healthcare, even those that are state-specific. My philosophy is, the more you know - the more you know.

That said, I was reviewing a study by  BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Institute that compared the use of rural vs. non-rural healthcare facilities. The results showed that more than 43 percent of consumers surveyed do not use the rural hospital closest to them. They prefer to get care from larger, non-rural hospitals - even when the same services are available locally.

Even though the study was limited to data from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's commercial membership, rural hospitals across the country are experiencing similar challenges. This bodes the question, "How will your CAH compete in the years ahead?" More specifically, how will you:

  • Differentiate your CAH from bigger hospitals when it comes to quality of care and treatment options?
  • Promote your patient satisfaction scores and other strengths to consumers?
  • Promote service lines that are as good as - or better than - larger hospitals in your area?

The common denominator for all of the above is: Brand. So before you start developing your 2014 marketing plan, take a good hard look at brand. It may be time to refresh it if:

  • It's no longer relevant or outdated - logo, colors, tagline, etc.
  • There are inconsistencies in how you brand yourself (e.g., different logo used on print materials than on your website).
  • Your brand messaging no longer reflects who you are or the expanded services you offer.
  • You're preparing for growth, a merger, partnerships or other "game-changers."
  • You're not reaching your target audience. For example, have demographics changed in the communities you serve? Have you added service lines that target a broader or different audience?

Only after careful review can you determine if it makes sense to refresh - or stand with your brand.

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