Nurse managers focus on patient care in USA

A recent survey of Nurse Managers in the USA by Studer Group for Healthleaders showed Nurse Managers have an overwhelming focus on patient care and satisfaction, closely followed by cost control.

This is admirable, however you would expect to see that in a survey and be damned disappointed if those three were not at the top of this list – especially in the USA, with its healthcare processes. Afterall patient satisfaction and cost control drive profitability.

I wonder how such a survey would appear if conducted in Australia or NZ? I suspect it would be about the same. I’m not sure if I was a nurse manager that I would be game to say I didn’t place patient satisfaction first.

However I am more interested in what was shown further down the list. Leadership development was in the middle of the list. Nurse/staff recruitment and retention was near the bottom of the list, as was employee satisfaction. All I can conclude is that there must be a surplus of people lining up for nursing positions in the good ole U S of A!

Yesterday I read of a research project being conducted in Queensland, Australia into the impact of hospital management behaviours upon patient care. Apparently the researchers want empirical evidence of the impact. I can suggest a methodology. Why not create two human triangles. One made up of ordinary healthcare employees, the other made up of patients. Ask both groups the same question. How does the behaviour of management impact upon patient care? I will bet they both answer the same way.

When managers act like pricks, the make everyone around them miserable and when employees are miserable they do only sufficient to get through the day. It’s really simple stuff. If managers were to smile, be polite, thank staff for their input and say hello to the occassional patient, then everyone would be much happier and get well faster. It’s so damned simple, very few managers actually do it well. Mark this page, we will come back to it in a year or so.

While I am on my hospital rant for the day. Frankston Hospital in Victoria, Australia. Triage staff the other night made a pregnant woman wait four hours for treatment, despite a letter from her GP suggesting a miscarriage was likely. Part way through the four hour wait the woman miscarriaged in the toilet. Clearly there is an operational issue to be resolved and I am sure it will be.

I am more interested in the reaction of the hospital management. The CEO, Sheree Devanesen personally apologised to the family affected and the Emergency Department, Clinical Director, Dr Helen Hewitt made a public apology through the media. “We made a mistake, and for that we are sorry.” Magic words. Great stuff. Fantastic leadership. Don’t be sceptical, an apology is paramount, it is the start of the healing process, and it signals that the management of Frankston Hospital understand they need to fix something. I am confident the internal review will address the issue and surrounding protocols in triage at the hospital. A number of CEO’s and other senior executives could, should, learn from this example. Mistakes do happen, we can make steps to ensure they don’t occur again. A visible expression of sympathy and acceptance of responsibility by management is the start to better processes and procedures, and improved customer satisfaction.

Crikey, we’ve gone a full circle, management behaviour does have an impact upon patient care. Who would have picked it?

Those are my thoughts for the day.

Let the journey continue
John Coxon


About John Coxon

Principal consultant for John Coxon & Associates, a management consultancy working with boards and management teams in healthcare, aged care and not for profit organisations to develop effective strategic planning processes and social enterprise business plans
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