Chasing the numbers
I spent a good part of the day writing performance evaluations. I find it somewhat refreshing to think about a staff member and write wonderful words that reflect their performance during the last year. Of course not every word is, glowing, but for the most part all my staff are good, hard workers and each one has positive qualities that work together for the department, and the hospitals good.
A good portion of the rest of the day was spent chasing numbers. You know, the NRC Picker, or Press Ganey satisfaction survey results that go along with the HCAHPS survey results. I find I’m more and more often aligning strategies, scripting, and work teams to push these numbers up. It can become an obsession… the daily logging into Press Ganey, running the queries, reading the reports.
Hurray! +.5 % on the mean score for courtesy, oh sad, -.6 on cleanliness, but wait, the emergency room waiting area jumped up 7%. Lets go clean the furniture again, did we make enough patient room rounds today? It is not enough to manage by walking around (MBWA), we need to fill out some quality assurance checks and speak to a dozen patients as well, hold staff huddles, post the numbers, give more praise and recognition, re-train on high dusting, pass out more putty knives to scrape those corners, look into 55 gallon drums of floor finish, as we go through gallon jugs too fast and so on, so forth.
I find it rather exciting to push the numbers. Of course it is not smoke and mirrors. Behind those gains are many staff members and other hospital employees working hard, doing things right, taking care of the patients, guests and each other. That is why I am in this business, but we measure, measure and measure again to make sure we keep on doing those right things.
Chasing the numbers? Yes, it can seem that way. And those are moving targets, what with the hospitals we compete with doing everything they can to improve just as we are. I might achieve an increase in my cleanliness mean score but if other hospitals also increase, and higher than I do my percentile will go down. So we compete against ourselves, and against other hospitals. Makes it all just a little more complicated.