Quint Studer’s Hardwiring Excellence – Social/Digital Perspective Part One

Over the next few months, I am going to be writing and reflecting on a wonderful book I have read numerous times, “Hardwiring Excellence” by Quint Studer. I have read it numerous times, even listen to the audio book on long road trips. Here is a book that is the beacon for those who lead hospitals, work in hospitals, and care about patients and employees. Quint Studer is a pioneer in patient satisfaction and laid the groundwork for all the benchmarking in patient satisfaction scores. The goal for me is to relate his teachings and methodology into a digital communication paradigm, one that is leveraging social media everyday to build relationships not only with the consumers but those inside operating hospitals.

Good Work
Quint begins talking about what it means to do good work. Everyday we work with hospitals, healthcare providers, foundations, and other stakeholders inside/outside hospitals to do good work, work that is innovative and engages many different audiences across so many digital and social media platforms. What does it mean to do good work in this context, well I believe that if we want to put the patient first, we must put the employee first as well. We must find ways, better ways to connect and build solid relationships with these individuals, regardless how they connect with their healthcare provider and hospital.

Leveraging digital and social media outlets is prime connection point to the patients and the employees, and as we connect and engage in online conversation, we begin to embrace the ideal off rounding. Quint tells stories of when he was tasked in Chicago at Holy Cross to increase patient satisfaction scores from the 5th percentile to the 75th percentile in one year. They knew they had a patient volume problem, so patient satisfaction was the first place to dig in and try to move the needle.

His prior experience to engage the patient in this leadership position was when he would duck out from his office, avoiding patients with complaints. So he knew he had to get past that barrier and start “rounding” by walking the floors and meeting people. He spent time going to floors of the hospital and telling them they were family and that they should smile.

Think about this for a second. Not to pick on Quint, but in his example…he was scared to respond to negative feedback by ducking out and avoiding the confrontation. He also went on to explain how he felt the need to walk the floors, meet the staff, and tell them they were part of the family and they should smile. He explains that the reactions to this situation provided lots of funny looks and faces when he walked away. Compare this to how many hospitals handle social media, confrontation, negative feedback, and pushy expectations from the hospitals’ social media accounts.

Patients, employees, consumers want to be heard, they want someone to listen, and they want someone to respond. Patients and employees want the same experience in-person as they would have online, except patients and employees have a larger firehose to be heard online…one that can be leveraged and documented.

What I am reading in the first chapter of “Hardwiring Excellence” is a complete parallel narrative between patient satisfaction leveraging in-person rounding and the online experience. We must digitally round leveraging key social media community management methodologies to engage with the patient creating a positive experience. If a patient reaches out online to a physician, hospital, nurse…there must be a response that shows compassion, care, yet falls inside the guidelines of the hospitals communication policies. Great community management leads to great patient satisfaction. And because of these principles, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards are including digital rounding as a part of evaluations.

There is a fundamental truth to what Quint is relaying, people want real conversations. What do I mean real conversations…the word conversation means more than a one way dialogue, a two way dialogue where there is listening, sharing, receiving…real dialogue. When Quint went back to the floor, he changed his approach and asked how he could help, and the nurses shared and he was able to respond. Imagine doing the same online…engaging with patients and employees online leveraging social outlets, then measuring success. Bottomline, digital and social media communities and platforms should be conversation portals!

Here are my take aways:

  1. Healthcare workers, physicians, leaders, providers, staff, employees must all take part in digital rounding. We must join the conversation in order to do good work!
  2. There is a need for hospitals or healthcare institutions to have purposeful community guidelines setting a course how hospitals, patients, employees, and consumers engage with constructive conversation online.
  3. Hospitals or healthcare institutions need to make social and digital media conversation a part of the tool kits for all hospital workers to engage in patient and consumer discussion, paving a pathway to increase patient and employee satisfaction.

I am not the first and I will not be the last to study Quint Studer’s principles and methodologies surrounding patient satisfaction. But I want to take these principles and bring them into a different and new conversation, engaging the patient in a conversation online that can bridge the digital divide.