I ended last week’s blog by inviting people to comment and they did. I stopped replying to every comment as it appeared because I didn’t think that it would be helpful once I saw the emotions that were being released. So, let me try to respond to the comments now.
The blog is a mechanism for communicating. A regular reader of the blog knows that I am usually trying to accelerate change toward our vision of being the healthcare system that treats everyone the way that we would want our own loved ones treated, every time. Sometimes I highlight a “technical” concept, like the relationship between the number of hospital beds in an area and the cost of healthcare in that area, or the ability of the patient-centered medical home to make care less fragmented for people with chronic disease. Sometimes I highlight great work by our people in making change happen, like the blog on standard work and improving our hand hygiene scores, or the one on the great work of the team that created the design for our new inpatient pharmacy (see "What's a 3P?".) Other times I have interviewed patients to let them tell their stories about their care as a way to recognize our wonderful nurses, doctors, therapists, technicians, and other staff (see the February 24, 2012 blog with Chris Brandau’s Mom).
But until last week, I had only used “negative” incidents from other industries to highlight room for improvement, like the blog I wrote in which I talked about the poor (giving the appearance that the Southwest employee didn’t care) service that I saw at BWI airport; or my poor service due to a poorly designed system in getting a hot dog on the New Jersey Turnpike (see the August 24th blog, "Good Leadership, Poor Leadership, Well Designed Systems and Random Behavior"
Last week I took a chance. I decided that we had developed enough as a learning organization to begin to openly discuss negative feedback from one of our patients. I picked the letter in part because the author said many nice things about our people. I removed two names from the letter so that the individuals whose reported negative behavior was focused on by the writer could not be identified. I also removed the name of a nurse who had been complimented so that the floor of the hospital could not be identified by people who did not know of the episode.
The purpose of the blog was to get us all to reflect on how our behavior is perceived by those who we serve so that through this reflection we may all become better. The blog was not meant to hurt any individual. After the blog was published, more than one person told me that they knew of many incidents where we had left the appearance of callousness, the appearance that we did not care. All of these people also told me that they thought that GBMC had great people who really do care and who work very hard and usually delight their patients with their caring. But these folks agreed that it is good to reflect when we do appear to not care so that we can improve ourselves.
I know how hard people are working in our GBMC HealthCare System and I know that it is my job to make sure that they have what they need to get the job done; whether it be staffing or equipment. I realize that it is my job to see that they are empowered to improve the systems that they work in to make it less hard for them to get the job done. But I also am aware that it is my job to assure that we reflect on how we are doing because ultimately we are here for the people we serve.