Our Patient Experience Is Seamlessly Monitored By Our Staff (Lesson 6)

Looking at the flow of patients through your doors, how confident are you that the journey they take through your organisation is the best that it can be?

Your various departments are hitting all of their numbers. You believe that everything is flowing as well as can be expected, particularly given the flexibility needed in patient treatment and the delivery of many of your services. Overall, you feel confident enough to say that you know what is going on in your organisation.

But are you seeing the whole picture?

Are You Seeing The Woods Or Just The Trees?

The breakdown and separation between different parts of your organisation can often mean that information does not get translated properly. When you look at individual components, instead of the end-to-end journey, so much gets missed.

For example, you miss the handoffs. We know that the patient sees the receptionist, then the patient sees the nurse, then the patient moves to a different department, then they see another nurse, and then finally a doctor.

After all that, maybe they are admitted to short stay or maybe they get released.

What do you actually know about that patient’s journey? You know they spent five minutes with the receptionist. You know they spent 15 minutes with the triage nurse. You know they spent eight minutes with the second nurse, and then 10 minutes with the doctor.

But you don’t know what’s going on in between these things… because you’re not looking.

The functional separation that healthcare organisations have created leads to a lack of knowledge about what’s going on in the gaps.

The scary truth is that the only people in the organisation who know what the journey actually looks like are the patients themselves because they are the ones experiencing it. These problems are simply not visible to anyone else.

From an organisational point of view, it looks as though everything is working perfectly. The patient is the one who keeps butting up against all of the problems. Let’s say that a patient comes into oncology and they are sent from there to a different department for various tests.

What did they do in between the two departments? Did they have to walk through a maze of corridors? Did it take them 15 minutes to make that journey? And did that cause them physical discomfort because they’ve got cancer and it’s a struggle to walk? Is there a failure to understand how the hospital is actually laid out?

All of these questions go unanswered because they don’t even get asked. The reason they don’t get asked is that these problems are completely invisible.