“Excellence Wins” in Healthcare – Why Repetition is a Good Thing

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We are into week seven of reviewing the book titled, “Excellence Wins”, by Horst Schulze, founding president and COO of Ritz-Carlton. Mr. Schulze established a new standard of excellence in his industry and we’re finding practical applications from Mr. Schulze’s successes that are relevant in today’s consumer-driven healthcare industry.

While having a copy of the book is certainly not needed to enjoy the next several BLOG posts, if you’d like to grab a copy to follow along, feel free to pick it up at Amazon here, or of course at your favorite book store.

Previous Thinking Thursday TIPs, covering chapters one through six, may be accessed from MedicalGPS’ BLOG site, linked here for your convenience.

This week we continue to explore part two of the book, ENGAGING YOUR EMPLOYEES , as we dig into chapter eight: WHY REPETITION IS A GOOD THING

“The most inspiring speech, the slickest PowerPoint display, the greatest video presentation — all of these tend to fade over the following twenty-four hours. No matter how great and thorough an employee’s orientation, it won’t stick without ongoing reinforcement . ” (1)

According to Mr. Schulze the Coca-Cola company spends $4 billion dollars each year to keep their product in the front of our brains. Through the process of ongoing repetition, Coca-Cola has learned consistent repetition in advertising works.

The process of working with your employees so that they perform at their personal best, AND helping them enjoy a rewarding work experience involves four things:

  • First, initial selection
  • Next, inspiring orientation
  • Then, initial teaching of specific job functions
  • Finally, sustaining what has been taught

This requires a conscious system that is diligently pursued. ( 2)

Sustaining what has been taught will require consistent repetition. There simply is no substitution for consistent repetition. Making the repetition enjoyable so that employees stay engaged starts with the manager. An enthusiastic manager, showing passion for the opportunity to serve others will show — it’s contagious and sustains the team in good times and in tough times

Ten Minutes a Day

Mr. Schulze instituted a stand-up meeting at the beginning of every shift to focus on Service Standards. (3) There are twenty-four Service Standards that Ritz-Carlton and Capella Hotel Group used, and at least one Service Standard was incorporated into each stand-up meeting. (4)

As part of MedicalGPS’ Service Improvement Program, Endeavor for Excellence: Start Where the Patient Starts, (E4E), MedicalGPS prescribes 21 best practices that every physician practice should consider, which when implemented, will help create and sustain a culture of service excellence. The number one best practice on our list involves the use of a Team Huddle. Team Huddles are short, start-of-shift team meetings that include participation of front-line support staff, at least one champion physician, and of course the practice manager. During the Team Huddle, the daily appointment schedule is covered, noting any special needs certain patients may require during that day’s clinic, and highlighting any other operational challenges that may present themselves throughout the day. Team Huddles are usually effective if kept to 10 minutes or less. Incorporating a brief mention of the organization’s mission, vision, and core values into the Team Huddle will keep your employees focused on the big picture — caring for, and serving the wonderful patients that have chosen your practice to receive their healthcare. It will seem repetitive from one day to the next, but that’s the point, repetition is a good thing.

Why Keep Repeating

“You may be thinking to yourself, ‘Oh my goodness, we’re too busy to keep hammering this kind of thing again and again. We have deadlines to meet! Our business just runs too fast a pace for this.’ ” (5)

Several hundred physician practices have participated in E4E and have seen first-hand the favorable benefits of implementing E4E’s 21 Best Practices, including the 10 minute Team Huddle.

Below you’ll find the conclusion summary as part of an E4E implementation Impact Analysis. This particular E4E engagement consisted of 27 physician offices, comprised of more than 120 physicians or other healthcare providers.

E4E Impact Conclusion: Of the 21 E4E Best Practice techniques, those that have the greatest favorable impact are identified as Top-tier opportunities. The top, #1 priority, Team Huddles , followed by answering the phone with a live person OR programming the phone tree / auto-attendant to streamline the intake process. Third, place a personal phone call to new patients to welcome them to the practice. These three best practices should be considered Top Priority/Must Implement Best Practices.

The second-tier of E4E Best Practices with a high-favorable-impact include: Waiting Room Rounding, Tactical Customer Service Training for patient engagement support staff , maintaining written Message Turn-around Standards, and executing well defined Appointment Scheduling Protocols.

To quote Mr. Schulze, ” These ten minutes are among the most important of the entire shift.” (6)

Mr. Schulze goes on to mention a point made by Steven Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly effective People.

“The difference between “urgent” and “important”? On the one hand, urgent things, he said, are the phone calls, interruptions, and even some meetings that gobble up daily life. Important things, on the other hand, are planning, relationships building, and recognizing new opportunities.” (7)

The Team Huddle falls squarely into the important category; however, if left unattended it will quickly get gobbled up by “urgent” items, and will soon be completely abandoned and forgotten. Do NOT let the “urgent” gobble up the important and take away from your team’s ability to provide the best care and service possible.

“Over the years, I have convinced a number of other companies to implement this kind of daily reinforcement. Some of them call it a “huddle”. (8)

Specifically, we call it the daily Team Huddle. If you haven’t already, make it a goal to conduct a daily Team Huddle at your practice.

Continuous Improvement

“The more a staff interacts, talking with each other and supporting one another, the more smoothly the operation goes”. (9)

Mr. Schulze describes several real-world examples of involving front-line support staff in solving operational problems and looking for operational efficiencies. He points out that sharing small victories pay huge dividends. One example Mr. Schulze talks about is when a house-cleaning employee knew of a little girl that was living with her mother in one of the long-term New York City hotels that the Ritz-Carlton purchased. As the story goes, the house-cleaning employee heard the mom mention that the little girl’s birthday was coming up, so, the house-cleaning employee stopped on their way into work and purchased a small doll, as a gift for the little girl’s birthday. Of course, the little girl and the mom were both blown away by the kind gesture.

In Fred Lee’s book, “If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 1/2 Things You Would Do Differently” , Mr. Lee talks about a similar kind gesture by one of his employees at the Florida Hospital in Orlando. It seems the facility maintenance manager thought it would be a great idea to have his team personally wash and make sparkling-clean every windshield, of every car, parked in the hospital’s parking lot one morning. Left under the driver’s side windshield wiper of every freshly cleansed windshield was the facility manager’s business card with, “Thank you” written on the back of the business card.

Some of your team members are performing similar heroic tasks for your patients. Encourage your team to share their random-acts-of-kindness stories. As they do, others will see the impact and follow suit.

Continuous Improvement is achieved one patient, one customer at a time. For those of you reading this BLOG that subscribe to M3-Patient Experience ® , the favorable impact of expressing that type of kindness is tangible and is measured on an on-going basis within M3’s standard set of on-line analytics.

If you’d like to see how your practice is doing, take a look at the Top Box percentage for the question “Would you recommend this practice to your family and friends.”

Here’s how:

  1. Login to M3-Patient Experience ®
  2. Click “Reporting”
  3. Click “Survey Overview”

When the “Survey Overview” page loads up, scroll down and you’ll find a trend line graph of the Recommend question, which is updated every night, just after midnight.

In the event that your practice’s trends are headed in the right direction, congratulations! If the trends are not to your liking, enlist the help of your front-line support staff.

“This requires asking employees to help find real answers for defects that show up. Because of the common commitment to high standards — reinforced on a continuing basis — the organization steadily moves forward.” (10)

Next week chapter nine: MANAGERS PUSH: LEADERS INSPIRE

Please let us know if you have comments or questions, and subscribe to our Email Updates , so that you can be assured to receive Thinking Thursdays TIPs.
Thank you!

Jerry L. Stone
MedicalGPS, LLC.

Names: SCHULZE, HORST, 1939 author. | MERRILL, DEAN
Title: Excellence Wins: a no-nonsense guide to becoming the best in the world of compromise / Horst Schulze, with Dean Merrill
Description: Grand Rapids, MI : Zondervan, [2019]


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