Saturday, April 2, 2016

Making the Healthcare Mission Real

Making the Mission Real
In a previous post [see: ] I railed against the tragic levels of customer service in  Canadian Healthcare.  In as much as being a disgruntled healthcare customer (nobody really wants to be in a position of needing healthcare services) as a Quality person I was appalled at how far off track we have come.  

 If there was a single irritant above all the irritants experienced it was the declarative Mission Statement (however named) Embed patient-centered practices in the delivery of all care and services.”  This might have been written in some aspirational moment of hope, but in reality it was both meaningless and, at least from the perspective of this one observer, galling.  In my experience there was no evidence of any effort to support or justify such a declarative statement.
What it made me appreciate all the more is the concept that Mission Statements have to be more than a bunch of nice words, they have to be credible and achievable in a way that the customer and employees can point to an say “Yes, and good-on-ya”  

So it made me think of all those statements that sound good but are of little use.  They remind me of the Crystalian character Fernando, “It is better to look good than to feel good”.  All SHOW and no GO. 

Here are a few:
Quality is Job 1
We meet and beat all requirements and standards of excellence
We provide world-class service.
We are the world leaders in care.
Excellence in all actions all the time.
(and with apologies to Philip Crosby) “Doing it Right the First Time Every Time”

Mission statements are important.  As pointed out in ISO 9000, the organization's mission statement or policy is its “purpose for existing as expressed by top management”.  If it is not real, staff and customers have nothing to hold on to and either ignore or scoff, or as in this situation get angry.  It doesn’t make the organization better; it makes the organization worse because it provides the opportunity for cynicism.  Good words-No substance.

So here is how I see it. 
There are some organizations that need the Fernando Format.  It is not about Quality; it is about profile and promotion; high profile major manufacturers may need at least as much pizazz as punch.  That is about advertising and promotion.   But healthcare organizations do not fall in that category.  Healthcare needs to “put up.  Period.”  Healthcare needs to be good, not just look good. 

So can we agree that unachievable mission statements achieve little other than make the promotion folks feel good.  So put out the message that we want to be there and intend to work damn hard to get there.  And on that point you can hold us accountable.

Our vision is to be recognized by our community and peers in Canada and beyond as a valued contributor to healthcare delivery and  innovation and as a passionate advocate for continued quality improvement for the benefit of patients and their families. 

Too long?  Maybe, but it  delivers  real measurable aspiration. 

I am open to suggestions for improvement.

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