“You choose the [healthcare] field only if helping people fits into your personal purpose, if you feel that giving back shapes your legacy and what you leave behind.”
Paul Spiegelman and Britt Berrett have written Patients Come Second from the perspective of running call centers and hospitals as Chief Executive Officers. They are writing to the audience of individuals running healthcare organizations and not particularly to those on the front lines of hospitals, clinics, or healthcare facilities. They look first at the vision and mission of healthcare organizations, and who is advancing the vision and mission to the customers.
Simon Sinek used a trust circle as an illustration to show that the leaders of an organization sit in the middle of the circle and are there to support those interacting with others outside the circle.
Britt and Paul use this book to show that leaders in healthcare need to be supporting those with authority through their interaction with patients. They expand on supporting healthcare professionals by “changing how we lead, fun within teams matters, do we really care, and no whiners, losers, or jerks.”
These points are essential to an organization because if we can’t have fun, why do the job? If we don’t care, why are we still going to work? And, if we can’t trust those we are working with, there is no longer a circle of trust to continue the vision and mission.
So, why do employees come first, how do we empower them, and what is the result?
Employees come first because without them the work cannot get done. Second, leadership must give them the resources available for continuing to learn and advance their education. With the willingness to care and the support from leadership to advance their co-workers, the result is better healthcare for everyone. Though this book is specific to the healthcare industry, there are broad implications for leaders in all industries.
Commit to a Lifetime of Learning
"High performers will disengage if we allow mediocrity to exist. ‘B’ players need to show signs of being an ‘A,’ and ‘C’ players should be moved out."
In Patients Come Second, the authors outline 3 steps to embracing a learning culture:
- Break Free From The Box – The box is what people put themselves in and what we have been taught to put ourselves in. We should decide on our own instead of having a barrier, we should open our minds to possibilities beyond our box. We should make the commitment to being a “lifelong learner.” This commitment will push our worldview, e.g., what else is being taught on a particular subject? Why does this or that person believe what he or she believes? We must also push our learning beyond what is being told. We must seek out new technology, new advancements in medicine, better communication, etc.
- Socialize The Learning Process – Continuing our education is not an easy task. If “the learning process starts becoming static or boring,” we will probably quit pursuing that educational aspiration. However, interacting with others not only keeps us accountable, but challenges how we see our worldview, and how others see our worldview. This interaction is creating a social environment that pushes our learning to a different level by challenging and questioning our thoughts. We also are seeing something different than others, and we are learning how to communicate more effectively.
- Choose A Mentor – Most people don’t seek out mentors and most mentors don’t ask to help. There is a shyness about asking for help from businessmen and women. But if there is someone who can help us, why don’t we seek out the opportunity to learn? We should, and when we do, we will be rewarded. An old proverb speaks to choosing a mentor, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise.” There is something to be treasured with wisdom and experience. Unfortunately these items sometimes are undervalued.
Service is Personal
"Patients expect that they’re going to get the best care all the time. What they want is to feel that someone cares about them."
The thought that someone cares about another person is special and exciting. The opposite is frustrating and degrading. Think about going to a place where you become a number. Your identity is stripped and you are now number 230 out of 232. But, when you are yourself, others see you, and you are comfortable and engaged in the process. This is because service is personal. Your identity is treasured and valued and that is when the best care is given—to a person not a number.
Regardless of your industry, take the time to make personal connections with those you interact with. A human connection, even a brief one, can make a massive difference in how people feel about their service.
Collaboration is Essential
"The future will not be centered around the hospital experience. It will be the entire patient experience, which includes more than hospitals. Organizations that used to be competitive will now need to work together."
The journey and the challenges of healthcare requires a solid team. When thinking about your team everyone in the team must be working together with the same drive and consistency. The amount of information, tasks, change in best practices, would be hard and impossible to do on your own. There must be collaboration and involvement from the entire team. We will lose people along the way, but we have to rise to the challenge of collaborating with others or we will push people out of the way.
Work within your team to establish a culture of collaboration, and you will see great improvement in outcomes.
Yes, the title of this book is misleading and catchy at the same time. This book is about leadership from the perspective of those at an executive level, but just as all great leaders in an organization that embody a vision and mission, they will take care of their employees and the customers will take notice.
As leaders in healthcare, we must continue to learn, look beyond any box that we set someone in, interact with others in the learning process, find others smarter and more experienced than us, remember that service is to an individual, and we must collaborate as a team in order to be competitive in advancing patient outcomes.