Caring About Care: What a Moving Company Taught Me About Creating Excellent Patient Experiences
Healthcare professionals have recently developed a long overdue interest in creating excellent patient experiences. As a healthcare technology company, we’ve been thinking through various ways to support providers in this endeavor, and I was recently reminded of one of the greatest customer experiences I’ve ever had.
My wife and I hired a moving company to pack up our stuff and take it across town. As you have probably experienced yourself, moving is hot, sweaty work, and carrying stuff down winding, two-story staircases normally doesn’t lead to great attitudes or wonderful experiences. Add to this that it seemed like we owned the heaviest furniture money can buy, and you could imagine that the poor movers had entered hell.
But they didn’t act that way. Instead, they gave us the best customer experience we’ve ever had.
So what can we in the healthcare industry learn from this small moving company? Below are just a few of the things that they taught me.
Caring About Care
The morning of our move was incredibly stressful. We were leaving our longtime family home for our new “micro ranch” out in the country complete with a barn, horses, and maybe even some cattle someday. We went through all the emotional ups and downs that come with such an intense change, but the movers helped make the whole situation easier. The care and service they had not just for my belongings, but also for my perception and comfort throughout that day honestly just blew me away.
Why were these hard working guys who were carrying my stuff out of my house so concerned about me as a person?
It felt good to be cared for, to be served with a smile and make a genuine connection that day. It relieved all the tension and the urgency and brought both me and my wife a great deal of peace. Anyone can move boxes and furniture but only the special few can care for the people during the move and make it a stress free and fun environment.
These men cared about caring.
Much like moving across the country, healthcare appointments are often an intense source of stress. Patients have heard too many horror stories of simple checkups exposing something terrifying or prices being more than they expected.
When physicians and their staff offer excellent service, when they care about caring, they can dramatically affect a patient’s whole experience. The movers I encountered didn’t do anything drastic; they just did their jobs really well. They smiled, engaged in polite dialogue, and made the moving process as efficient as possible.
Healthcare technology support teams can help make subtle changes that empower providers to create excellent patient experiences. Most of the time the changes are small, but we’ve learned that enabling providers to cultivate simple habits of kindness and care for physicians and their staff goes a long way.
Starting From the Top
In my 30 years as an organizational development professional in healthcare, I’ve seen that people typically give out what was first given to them, and Barry’s moving team was a perfect case study for this.
During a quick Cola break with the movers while the boss wasn’t around, I had to ask them what motivated them to work so hard and care so deeply. Shockingly, they all said the same thing:
“Because that is what Barry expects.”
They explained that Barry owns the company and has kept this crew employed through good and bad for 14 years. Many of the movers shared that they wanted to meet his expectations not just so they could get their paychecks, but because of how well Barry took care of them. They told me story after story about how he looks out for his employees. Early on, he’d make his expectation of outstanding service very clear, but he also modeled that behaviour.
He made his team feel the way he wanted his customers to feel, and it worked.
With all the responsibilities on healthcare providers’ shoulders, it’s difficult to focus on the staff’s job satisfaction, and incorporating other outside partners (such as a technology provider) can often lead to additional concerns. That’s why it is so important for each of us in healthcare service roles to create and model a culture of great service.
Putting a sweet phrase or mantra on the screensavers about how “patients come first” may work for a little bit, but ultimately the team needs to live our those ideals. Barry’s movers made me, the customer, feel cared for because they felt cared for first. They merely followed their leader. Likewise, all the folks in the clinics need to feel cared for in order to offer excellent care to patients.
Equipping Teams for Efficient Patient Experiences
All this talk about caring about care for patients and healthcare provider staff may sound great, but it can be really difficult in practice. Physicians and other leaders in healthcare obviously have a lot on their plates, and while many people in those positions want to foster a culture of excellent service, busy schedules, burdensome paperwork, complex technology usafe, and regulatory requirements make it difficult to spend time making sure everyone feels cared for.
So where is there hope?
Recent innovations in healthcare technology, such as Blockit, enable provider teams to alleviate some of their administrative burdens and technology stressors which allows providers to focus more of their attention back on the patients.
Again we can turn to Barry and his movers as an illustration. Barry’s team wouldn’t have had the energy to care for me if they had to carry every piece of furniture and box every step of the way. Luckily, they had the resources available that made their jobs easier and relieved them of some of the more burdensome tasks.
I remember seeing one of the movers save himself multiple trips back and forth by stacking a handful of boxes on dolly. Besides putting the boxes on top of each other, he barely had to do any lifting! And it wasn’t a cheap dolly either. It was obvious that Barry cared enough to equip his team with the tools that made the work as efficient as possible. He equipped his team with the proper resources that empowered them to focus on customers. The tools did a lot of the heavy lifting.
At Blockit, we have a unique opportunity to provide these kinds of resources to the healthcare professionals who interact with patients face to face. We always to genuinely care for those caregivers as well. We hope that by supporting our partners with both sophisticated technology and excellent customer service, they would feel empowered to provide excellent service to their patients.
Barry’s movers could not have provided my wife and me with an excellent on their own. They needed the dollys, the truck, and other equipment to make their job easier and free them up to focus on their customers. The excellent patient experiences does not just happen naturally. It took thought and intentionality, and it required the leader of the organization to provide the teams with the tools that alleviate unnecessary burdens. What was true for the moving company is true for our company, and it’s true for providers. Excellent experiences happen when everyone in the organization begins caring about care.
David Gregorio is the Senior Advisory and People Programs Executive at Blockit and the author of the Purpose Quotient®, a nationally recognized framework for Organizational Development. A 30 year healthcare industry professional with a passion for people, Dave is the founder of the Heroes to Healthcare mission and CEO of ImPowerQ Associates llc.