Author: Deb Haley, RN, CNOR, CSPDT, MBA | Director of Clinical Services

In a few weeks, we’ll be in Anaheim, California, for the IAHCSMM Annual Conference and Expo. One of the perks of this year’s location is its proximity to Disneyland and all the magic that happens there.

Believe it or not, there are ways that sterile processing departments can—and should—be more like Disneyland. In fact, Fred Lee, a former Senior VP at one of the country’s largest medical centers and a cast member at Disney University, wrote a whole book on what it would look like. Consider this the CliffsNotes.

1. Make courtesy more important than efficiency.

If getting things done in a timely manner is more important than meeting the needs of your customers, you can expect sour relationships that hurt both patient and employee satisfaction. But if you make courtesy more important, you free your employees to relate well to your customers, which improves everyone’s experience.

2. Think of patient satisfaction as fool’s gold (it’s not as valuable as it looks).

Satisfaction can mean that you just barely met a patient’s expectations—but you didn’t leave a memorable positive impression. Instead of satisfaction, aim for loyalty, which results from memorable experiences that surprised the customer in the best way possible.

3. Measure to improve, not to impress.

You should reach out to patients and departments for feedback—not in order to impress them by the fact that you called and asked their thoughts, but instead, to find ways to improve what you’re doing.

4. Decentralize the authority to say yes.

Rid your department of micromanaging and empower frontline employees to handle problems as they come. Doing this is bound to improve job satisfaction, employee engagement, patient satisfaction and loyalty, and departmental efficiency.

5. Change the service to an “experience”.

Whatever procedure patients are in the hospital for, they bring their whole selves: emotions, intellect, soul, spirit, as well as their physical body. Whether you realize it or not, you’re interacting with them on all of those planes. Make sure that you care for the whole person, not just the part of them that’s under operation.

6. Harness the motivating power of imagination.

Imagination enables you to make connections and find solutions that aren’t obvious. By using imagination, staff can improve processes and solve problems that might otherwise leave them stuck.

7. Dissatisfaction is the father of improvement.

Rather than seeing dissatisfaction as a disappointment, see it as an opportunity to improve—and use it to spur departments and personnel into action aimed at that improvement.

8. Stop using competitive monetary rewards to motivate people.

Rather than pitting staff against each other and rewarding them for doing what’s right, build a culture of interdependence that expects staff to do what’s right and visibly recognizes outstanding staff in ways that aren’t tied to money.

9. Close the gap between knowing and doing.

It’s one thing to know that you should serve customers, courteously, in ways that care for the whole person and use imagination and dissatisfaction to improve processes and solve problems. It’s another thing to live out those ideals. Don’t expect training or special positions or task forces to make it happen. It’s a cultural and paradigm shift, so it will take time. Aim for long-term consistency and embrace imagination and dissatisfaction to help you along.

1/2. Your competition is anyone your customers compare you to.

Because a hospital setting is a whole-person experience, anywhere that customers go to be served or have an experience is on the competition floor. You’re serving the whole person, and your customers’ perceptions start the minute they walk through the hospital doors. How are they being cared for?

The Cost of Staying Manual

See the costs that come with staying manual, along with the savings your facility can gain by moving to automation.

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Attending the 2019 IAHCSMM Annual Conference & Expo?