I’ve seen a few articles recently about the things hospitals and physician offices are doing in an effort to raise their patient experience scores. Valet parking, full service espresso bars and the like are popping up everywhere. Nice features, to be sure, but is that really what we’re talking about? What if we work in an older building that isn’t so pretty? Are we doomed?
We’ve all heard the bit about seeing the glass half-full as opposed to half-empty, right? It’s supposed to give us some insight as to whether we are optimists or pessimists, whether we choose to see things in life as possibilities or problems.
What if I told you there was another option?
What if instead of trying to decide if the glass if half full or half empty, we instead looked around to find someone who might be thirsty?
This is how I choose to see things in life. It’s not about optimism or pessimism; it’s about seeing what’s available and finding someone who needs it. It’s about helping. It’s about looking outside ourselves and sharing an act of kindness with another.
This kind of approach to life led me to a career in the ‘softer’ side of healthcare. It’s not the glass of water, itself, that should be the focus. It’s what we do with that glass of water that matters. If we are in a position to share that water with someone who needs it, we should. It doesn’t matter if it’s only half a glass. A thirsty person will appreciate it.
The patient experience movement isn’t about perfection and prettiness, it’s about connection. Physicians, nurses, medical techs, call center workers, front desk receptionists, etc., all have rough days, days they feel they just don’t have enough gas in the tank to make a patient’s experience perfect. They’re tired, they’re stressed, they’ve just been yelled at by the last patient.
But taking just a moment or two to connect, to really listen, find a way to ease a little bit of suffering… that’s what the patient experience movement is about. The harpist in the lobby, the gorgeous waterfall feature, the perfectly appointed private room… those are all nice, but they’re not what makes the biggest impression on patients. Patients want to be heard, cared for, listened to.
I used to work in a hospital that was in desperate need of a make-over. It was surrounded in that market by other hospitals that were absolutely gorgeous. But people drove miles out of their way, past those fancy lobbys and tuxedoed food service workers to come to our hospital where they were treated with kindness, compassion and dignity.
Our glass was definitely half full. We didn’t look nearly as pretty as they did. But we took our half full glass and offered it to those who needed it.
Recognize that what you have, even if it isn’t perfect, may be exactly what someone else is thirsty for. Don’t worry if it isn’t filled to the top. The act of kindness in sharing with someone is what matters.
Are you optimistic? Pessimistic? How about empathetic or compassionate?