Leading a business, organization or employees is not easy these days. Health care executives and their boards of directors have a continuous challenge to keep a balanced approach. And if we agree that organizations and their employees follow their leaders thinking and behaviors, we can observe the importance of an organization’s leadership and how their actions can have an immediate impact on customer service.
If we agree that patients are customers. In today’s health care environment, leadership is critical. Is the leadership putting up barriers for the primary care physicians or are they breaking down the barriers to achieve excellent health care at all levels.
Here is one real-life recent situation to consider:
A colleague of mine recently became ill and called their primary care physician group for an appointment. As background, this physician group practice has been caring for this family for over 20 years. My colleague is not typically sick, so seeking immediate help from a primary care physician was not normal. Upon calling the PCP for an appointment, this colleague was rudely treated by the receptionist, told that they were booked and would not be seen. The receptionist after prodding asked if a note to the doctor and if the PCP called in a prescription for an antibiotic would that be satisfactory? My colleague complied and picked up the prescription the same day.
Following that event, my colleague booked an appointment for a physical, with the same PCP, because of some health concerns and need help with some overall health issues.
Upon arrival at the on the day of the scheduled appointment at 7:45 AM for the 8 AM appointment, my colleague was greeted at 8:05, paid the co-payment, was weighed, a vitals conducted and was taken back to exam room at 8:05. While sitting in the exam room for 25 minutes, my colleague could overhear the ranting of the PCP about the frustrations of their treatment by the leadership of the large health system that had purchased their practice. Initially, my colleague thought that the PCP was speaking to another patient, but found after waiting in the exam room for 25 minutes, the PCP was actually ranting to the other staff members in the practice.
Having reached the limit of the patience threshold, my colleague got dressed, went to the reception desk and asked for the co-payment to be returned and complained about the overall poor customer service. The doctor then emerged from the back to the reception area to confront my colleague stating, “I’m here now!” My colleague declined being very upset by the treatment by the practice and left.
This colleague was not called by the practice following the unsettling events at the practice. No care for the person was extended. This colleague biggest question is, “If I am treated this way at 8 AM, how will the other patients be treated at 4:30 PM?”
My colleague will find another PCP and will more than likely direct others away from that practice. This was not how the practice operated for the previous 20 years. What is happening? Are we losing the “CARE” in health care because the new leadership stopped listening to the PCP’s and the patients? Could it be the structural change has had unanticipated consequences for the PCP? Was the agreement properly structured for a win-win relationship? Is the behavior of the leadership outside and inside showing the other employees that the “new” business of health excludes true caring and good customer service for the patient?
We should ask ourselves: As leaders in the business of health care, are our business decisions considerate of a balanced approach? How do we impact our employees at all levels? Is good “CARE” still good business?