Culture Collaboration: The 4 Critical Elements To Consider


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As Capitol Hill deliberates the future of socialized medicine here in the States, health care is on my mind today. In particular, I am thinking about the patient experience and how it is similar to the customer experience.

Of course, there are differences between them, too. First of all, most patients did not ask to be there, unlike customers that are typically choosing a product or service. Also, patients have different needs they are meeting when participating in the healthcare system that most customers do for their purchase or participation in goods and services. Needs like healing a life-threatening disease or surgery for a gunshot wound …things like that. Finally, most of your customers are wearing clothes that are closed all the way down the back.

But the idea that there are expectations is the same. Patients have expectations of their experience, just like customers. So just like businesses must do with their customer experience, health care providers should understand those expectations and see them through their patient’s eyes.

The Harvard Business Review blog published an article about this concept called, “Redefining the Patient Experience with Collaborative Care.” The authors wrote about the importance of listening to the patients’ feedback and using this information when coming up with a strategy that focuses on patient needs and team-based patient experience model to address those needs. They call this concept Collaborative Care.

Now, I jokingly said in a blog post that Collaboration is Dead, and instead tout the importance of symbiosis (the relationship where two entities rely on one another for survival). This is mostly semantics, however, designed to create an inflammatory post title. I believe that collaboration and customer experience are two parts of a symbiotic relationship and do rely on one another to thrive and survive.

We had a collaborative care experience with Memorial Hermann Health System (MHHS) that was a particularly good example of using this concept to improve the patient experience in Northeast Hospital, a facility in the suburbs of Houston, TX.

The backstory of this particular hospital was that the hospital was not performing well on any of the metrics that health care systems use to measure performance. After it was purchased by MHHS, they saw quickly that the hospital had major disconnects between the patient experience they thought they were providing and the experience that the patients reported actually having. Plus, they were losing $1 Million per month. They needed what we call a Cultural Transformation based on collaboration.

After they began to work with us to design a better patient experience, the Northeast Hospital immediately saw results. In the first year, the biggest improvement was in their outpatient facilities. In fact, they jumped up to a 92% high satisfaction level from their patients. Over the next couple of years, they brought the rest of the facility up as well. Now they are not only performing extremely well on all their metrics, they are also profitable. To learn more details about this particular case, please watch the webinar “Achieving Patient Experience Excellence Through Cultural Transformation.

What we learned from this experience with MHHS was that there are 4 critical elements to creating a collaborative culture for your patient/customer experience.

  1. Leadership: No cultural transformation can be achieved without it being embraced from the top. In my recent post about Ryanair, I talk about how Michael O’Leary’s negative customer experience leadership translates all the way down the chain to poor customer experience. Well, it also works when leadership is positive. Because the leadership at Northeast hospital embraced the importance of this patient-centered culture, it was successful for MHHS.
  2. Motivation: There is an old sales saying that I am paraphrasing that goes, “that which gets incented gets done.” It is also true for a cultural collaboration. Where salespeople are motivated by money, healthcare workers may be motivated by different measures. In particular, MHHS found that once they matched their values to the values of their employees, they say great improvements in the patient experience.
  3. Coaching: Once you have the motivation triggers in place, money or matching values, etc., it’s important to start coaching. All people need coaching from time to time, no matter how much they know or how well they perform.
  4. Measurement: If you don’t measure your results, you won’t know if it’s working. You will have the industry metrics, of course, but internal metrics are important as well. Define your goals at the beginning and measure your progress. Be sure to celebrate your achievements.

Patient experience and customer experience have many similarities. They both have needs to be met. They both have expectations of their experience. They both can benefit from a culture of collaboration that uses this information to design and experience that meets these needs and expectations. I ask you now, how can you create a culture of collaboration at your organization?

Now if only we could translate this idea of listening to expectations and creating a culture of collaboration to our lawmakers on the issue of healthcare. That would be a cultural transformation.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


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