Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
The Paul McCartney of health care experiences

The Paul McCartney of health care experiences

the-paul-mccartney-of-health-care-experiences- image0While I was not present to hear him at the recent American Association of Medical Colleges’ 125th annual meeting in Chicago, I did read the comments that the chair of the AAMC Board of Directors, Lorris Betz, M.D., Ph.D., made in a keynote address.

He talked about two things in his speech (which you can read online if you have an interest.)  First, he talked about changing the culture. Here he primarily had in mind the idea of stopping “bullying.” Many people don’t like to acknowledge that there is an issue with bullying in the health care profession, but I have witnessed (not lately and not at Tech) professionals standing in the hallway yelling at each other at the top of their lungs. I will say, we see much less of that in this day and age than in times past. But, at one time it was too common and often overlooked, or at least tolerated. Not anymore. Nor should such behavior ever be tolerated.

The other matter that Dr. Betz talked about is what I really want to talk about in this column.  He told of his experience in serving as senior vice president for the University of Utah Health Sciences Center in Salt Lake City. It was there he learned from patient satisfaction surveys that they were providing a health care experience that was well below patients’ expectations. In fact, he said they ranked in the 20th percentile for patient satisfaction when compared nationally against peers. He started an initiative called the Exceptional Patient Experience.  Its goal was simple (but difficult to achieve): provide an exceptional experience for every patient, every time, and at every point within our system.

He says that in two years, they moved from the 27th percentile to the 66th percentile on the question, “Would you recommend this hospital?” Furthermore, he reports that, “More importantly, patients were happier, clinic sessions ran more smoothly and people began learning from, and respecting, one another. All of a sudden, the number of positive letters from patients greatly exceeded the negative ones.”

His story reminds me of our story. We, too, have moved from being around the 27th percentile to as high as the 80th percentile. But, there is a funny thing about patient satisfaction—and it can be summed up in the old adage, “You are only as good as your last performance.”  A lot of people may not care for that expression, and certainly we have inherent worth as human beings that is not based on how we perform. Yet, the adage does convey the thought that our work is never done, and while it can be daunting, we have to go out every day to every patient and make it our best “performance.” Let’s use the example of Paul McCartney, age 72, who was in Lubbock recently. I admire that he is still going out every night and giving it his all to make it a good experience for his fans. He could kick back and say, “Hey, I’m Sir Paul McCartney. I can coast tonight.” But, he doesn’t. Why?  He wants to provide an exceptional experience for every fan, every time, at every performance.