I, like many of you, was brought up with the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you or treat others as you would like to be treated.
There’s certainly a lot of good in that rule but I now try to do even better. I try to live by The Platinum Rule: Do unto others as they would like to have done unto them.
I’m not sure who coined the expression, but I first heard it when I was working in Physician Relations at a very large suburban Chicago hospital. None of us in the department was a physician, but we all worked very closely with them and had to continuously find ways to keep them happy, engaged, and admitting their patients to our hospital instead of our competitor down the street.
We all approached the task from our own perspective; what would I want, what would make me happy. A few times we got it right, but if we were going to truly be effective, we had to start seeing things from the physicians’ point of view. What would they want?
I didn’t realize it at the time, but it became a very valuable life lesson for me. I started approaching a lot of things with the Platinum Rule and it’s one of my key points when I’m delivering Patient Experience training.
One of my favorite examples is what to call people. My name, as it appears on my medical chart, is Katherine. But I’ve found that most people, for some reason, love to use nicknames when they see a long name like Katherine. They call me Kathy. It drives me crazy.
Don’t get me wrong, Kathy is a perfectly fine name, it’s just not my name and I hate when people assume it’s okay to call me that.
Funny thing is, there are Jennifers out there who don’t mind being called Jen or Jenny, and Margarets who take it in stride if someone calls them Maggie. These people can’t understand why I get so bent out of shape when someone calls me Kathy.
They don’t have to understand why. They just have to understand that it does.
So how are you supposed to know? Simple. Ask.
The key to connecting with patients isn’t in giving them everything that would make you happy and comfortable if you were in their shoes. We need to ask them what they want.
How many of us actually have a question like that on our admission forms? Or our white boards in patient rooms? We have a perfect opportunity to find out exactly what we can do to make patients’ stays with us a little better (and improve our H-CAHPS scores, by the way) and we consistently miss it.
Individualized, personalized care matters. We can’t keep going with what we think is important. We have to ask our patients what matters to them and then do it.
It’s better than gold; it’s platinum.