Fresh Steps That Will Deliver World Class Patient Care
Written by Michael D. Brown
You likely recently heard the horrific story of a nurse who was “following company policy” to not offer medical attention to a dying women at a California retirement home. Policy it might be - but certainly worth a swift and through review by Glenwood Gardens and should serve as a wake up call for the industry. We need sensible policies in place that protects the health and welfare of the patients and prevents them from dying. We also need to empower and equip our frontline (nurses, janitors, aides, etc.) with the processes and procedures to deliver a world-class patient experience. I am sure we will discover that not been able to deliver CPR is the tip of the nightmare - as the frontline hands are likely tied and are prevented from delivering in other areas that could benefit the patient.
‘Fresh Customer Service’ Offers Healthcare Global Readers With 6.5 Fresh Steps that Will Deliver A World-Class Patient Experience >>>
Fresh Step 1: Side-by-Side Walking
This involves walking a mile in the shoes of employees to understand what they do, how they do it, and how they experience their jobs. Side-by-Side Walking will help give you a real-world understanding of the environment your frontline employees operate in, and separate perceptions from actual activities and true problems. Side-by-Side Walking is the foundation for understanding where your organization is at the moment, the gaps that exist, what is working and what needs improvement.
Best of all, Side-by-Side Walking only requires you, the corporate manager or executive, to take one day of your schedule and devote it to going through all the activities your frontline employees go through, from pre-shift preparation to post-shift cleanup and closeout. Far more than a site visit, it's a true immersion into your frontline employees' daily lives and routines.
Fresh Step 2: Smart Tasking
This clearly defines the critical tasks and processes that support the customer service offering and the deadlines by which they must be completed. The most important factor is completing the necessary tasks and processes without impeding the delivery of a world-class customer service experience to the patient. Smart Tasking creates a harmonized balance between completing the tasks/processes and delivering a world-class patient experience.
It is important to get the processes of delivery right, allowing your employees to be more efficient
Fresh Step 3: Make-It-Right Power
This instills both the responsibility and the authority to resolve patient complaints and issues (in this recent case- a dying women needing to breath) in the frontline employees who are most able to satisfy the customer at any point in time.
Make-It-Right Power puts the ability to deliver a world-class patient experience in the hands of the people who are best able to deliver it: The employees who interact with the patients. It's about empowering and positioning employees to be able to instantly solve patient problems and view them as opportunities to Make-It-Right now for the patient.
Make-It-Right Power delivers both the responsibility and the prescribed authority to the employees to transform a patient's bad experience into a positive one, or in the best case scenario, one that can proactively hedge off the situation as a result of prescribed Make-It-Right Power before it even festers into a bad experience.
Fresh Step 4: The What-If Arsenal
This is a set of processes and tools in place to handle scenarios when the patient is in need. It builds on organizational experiences and reduces the need to reinvent the wheel while creating a depository for frontline employees to make fresh deposits of "what-if solutions," and helps give Make-It-Right Power to the frontline employee to instantly serve and satisfy the patient.
When fastballs of everyday life are thrown at you and your organization, you need to have a strategy for hitting home runs in unstable conditions. A What-If Arsenal should be at an employee's fingertips or stored in his head for instant retrieval when the manager is present and when he's away.
But here's a tip: We need to be careful not to dictate the contents of the What-If Arsenal toolbox. Filling it with techniques that we think are appropriate for the frontline employee while sidelining what the frontline employee believes is right will not work.
Instead, we should give frontline employees the opportunity to brainstorm their own ideas for filling the toolbox. The litmus test should be whether the employees' suggestions are ethical. If they are, they should be implemented. It all comes down to one element: a world-class patient experience that will grow and sustain your business.
The Fifth Fresh Step
Bubble-Up Innovation. This will show you how to appreciate and utilize the current ideas frontline employees possess to improve the whole organization. They, not managers or CEOs, are privy to why patients want later dinner hours, or why the chairs in the movie room keeps them from enjoying the show. Therefore it is a winning practice to listen to the comments and suggestions frontline employees may have to make your organization better.
When you want to encourage innovation and gain solutions to problems facing the business, schedule a "Bubble-Up Innovation Fun Day." Create an off-site environment that promotes innovation, represents the brand and desired customer experience, and, above all, is comfortable and stimulating for the frontline employee.
Fresh Step 6: Relentless Focus
This is the continual and consistent emphasis on the frontline employee delivering a world-class customer patient experience and embedding this into the core business model, as opposed to customer service "programs-of-the-month."
Many organizations are good at "kick-off celebrations." Most customer service programs start off with a bang, with everyone being committed and poised to make them happen. But as the strategies start changing, new leaders come in, employees become disinterested and the focus shifts to something else, the initial great customer service program is tossed aside like a child's old favorite toy.
Relentless Focus forces the organization to make an ongoing investment in providing a world-class patient experience by embedding it into the core business model. Every program, strategy, and initiative has an automatic space carved out for providing a world-class customer patient experience. Not providing this focus destroys the foundation of the operation and the goal of providing a great customer experience.
Because Relentless Focus is essentially a mindset, it is also essentially cost-free. It requires each employee to constantly keep customer service in mind, whether they are a top-level executive designing a core business strategy or an entry-level frontline associate implementing that same strategy.
Fresh Step 6.5: Now Just Make It Happen
This is a half-step simply meant to remind you that the first six steps do you no good unless you actively put them into practice today and then constantly follow up to ensure they remain in practice throughout your organization. It's one thing to "commit" to Fresh Customer Service, it's another thing to roll up your sleeves and make it happen.
The cost? Whatever the market rate for elbow grease and determination is these days. Like so many of the most valuable things in life, there is no financial value you can put on them, but they're worth more than anything you can put a price sticker on.
So that's the 6.5 steps to Fresh Customer Service that will deliver a world-class patient experience. Easy to follow and cost-efficient. All they require is commitment and effort. And if you can't afford to expend some commitment and effort to guarantee a world-class customer experience to every patient who comes through your door, you'll soon have much bigger things to worry about - perhaps even be out of business.
Brown is a sought-after speaker and workshop facilitator and has worked with a number of Fortune 100 companies, independent businesses, non-profits, and entrepreneurs improve their mission, service, and growth concurrently. Visit Fresh Customer Service for more information.
The challenges to vaccine distribution affecting everyone
While it is comforting to know that vaccines against COVID-19 are showing remarkable efficacy, the world still faces intractable challenges with vaccine distribution. Specifically, the sheer number of vaccines required and the complexity of global supply chains are sure to present problems we have neither experienced nor even imagined.
Current projections estimate that we could need 12-15 billion doses of vaccine, but the largest vaccine manufacturers produce less than half this volume in a year. To understand the scale of the problem, imagine stacking one billion pennies – you would have a stack that is 950 miles high. Now, think of that times ten. This is a massive problem that one nation can’t solve alone.
Even if we have a vaccine – can we make enough? Based on current projections, Pfizer expects to produce up to 1.3 billion doses this year. Moderna is working to expand its capacity to one billion units this year. Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, is likely to produce 60% of the 3 billion doses committed by AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi. This leaves us about 7 billion doses short.
Expanding vaccine production for most regions in the world is complicated and time-consuming. Unlike many traditional manufacturing operations that can expand relatively quickly and with limited regulation, pharmaceutical production must meet current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) guidelines. So, not only does it take time to transition from R&D to commercial manufacturing, but it could also take an additional six months to achieve CGMP certification.
The problem becomes even more complex when considering the co-products required. Glass vials and syringes are just two of the most essential co-products needed to produce a vaccine. Last year, before COVID-19, global demand for glass vials was 12 billion. Even if it is safe to dispense ten doses per vial, there is certain to be significant pressure on world supply of the materials needed to package and distribute a vaccine.
It is imperative drug manufacturers and their raw material suppliers have clear visibility of production plans and raw material availability if there is any hope of optimizing scarce resources and maximising production yield.
It is widely known by now that temperature is a critical factor for the COVID-19 vaccine. Even the regions with the most developed logistics infrastructures and resources needed to support a cold-chain network are sure to struggle with distribution.
For the United States alone, State and local health agencies have determined distribution costs will exceed $8.4 billion, including $3 billion for workforce recruitment and training; $1.2 billion for cold-chain, $1 billion vaccination sites and $0.5 billion IT upgrades.
The complexity of the problem increases further when considering countries such as India that do not have cold-chain logistics networks that meet vaccine requirements. Despite India’s network of 28,000 cold-chain units, none are capable of transporting vaccines below -25°Celsius. While India’s Serum Institute has licensed to manufacture AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which can reportedly be stored in standard refrigerated environments, even a regular vaccine cold chain poses major challenges.
Furthermore, security will undoubtedly become a significant concern that global authorities must address with a coordinated solution. According to the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, theft and counterfeiting of pharmaceutical products rose nearly 70% over the past five years. As with any valuable and scarce product, counterfeits will emerge. Suppliers and producers are actively working on innovative approaches to limit black-market interference. Corning, for example, is equipping vials with black-light verification to curb counterfeiting.
Clearly, this is a global problem that will require an unprecedented level of collaboration and coordination.
Disconnected information systems
While it is unreasonable to expect every country around the world will suddenly adopt a standard technology that would provide immediate, accurate and available information for everyone, it is not unreasonable to think that we can align on a standard taxonomy that can serve as a Rosetta Stone for collaboration.
A shared view of the situation (inventory, raw materials, delivery, defects) will provide every nation with the necessary information to make life-saving decisions, such as resource pooling, stock allocations and population coverage.
By allowing one central authority, such as the World Health Organization, to organize and align global leaders to a single collaboration standard, such as GS1, and a standard sharing protocol, such as DSCSA, then every supply chain participant will have the ability to predict, plan and execute in a way that maximises global health.
Political influence and social equality
As if we don’t have enough stress and churn in today’s geopolitical environment, we must now include the challenge of “vaccine nationalism.” While this might not appear to be a supply chain problem, per se, it is a critical challenge that will hinge on supply chain capabilities.
In response to the critical supply issues the world experienced with SARS-CoV-2, the World Health Organization, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) formed Covax: a coalition dedicated to equitable distribution of 2 billion doses of approved vaccines to its 172 member countries. Covax is currently facilitating a purchasing pool and has made commitments to buy massive quantities of approved vaccines when they become available.
However, several political powerhouse countries, such as the United States and Russia, are not participating. Instead, they are striking bilateral deals with drug manufacturers – essentially, competing with the rest of the world to secure a national supply. Allocating scarce resources is never easy, but when availability could mean the difference between life and death, it becomes almost impossible.
Global production, distribution and social equality present dependent yet conflicting realities that will demand global supply chains provide complete transparency and an immutable chain of custody imperative to vaccine distribution.
The technology is available today – we just need to use it. We have the ability to track every batch, pallet, box, vile and dose along the supply chain. We have the ability to know with absolute certainty that the vaccine is approved, where and when it was manufactured, how it was handled and whether it was compromised at any point in the supply chain. Modern blockchain technologies should be applied so that every nation, institution, regulator, doctor and patient can have confidence in knowing that they are making an impact in eradicating COVID-19.