Regardless of the role we serve – whether personally or professionally – the ‘trust’ factor is critical. In business, trust must be earned. It’s the power-brand that represents the DNA of any organization.
However, I’m not so certain that it’s occurring in our current healthcare ‘system.’
In healthcare, many times trust is blindly given when it is not warranted. To better illustrate this point, the Des Moines Register recently published a story, “Ex-staffer: Risk to 2 patients hidden.”
The story is about Robert Burgin, an infection-control specialist for Mercy Hospital in Council Bluffs. Mr. Burgin resigned his position because his employer was unwilling to tell the truth to patients whose health may have been compromised due to medical mistakes. Based on this article, I commend Mr. Burgin for holding firm with his beliefs that patient safety is paramount.
Secrecy in healthcare hasn’t changed much in 15 years since the Institute of Medicine’s ‘To Err is Human’ book was published. The practice of health providers suppressing similar stories from public knowledge is reprehensible. As patients, we trust our providers to do the right thing, regardless of the circumstances involved. Medical organizations that are sincere about pursuing and maintaining an enduring culture of trust should establish initiatives to emotionally connect with their patients to perpetuate that trust.
Indicator #5: Trusting our Hospitals
‘Trusting our Hospitals’ is our fifth performance indicator. Overall, Iowa employers give statewide hospitals an un-weighted score of 7.2, or a grade of ‘B-.’ When segmented into five regions using size-weighted scores, four regions received a ‘mid-to-high C’ grade while the northwest region graded at a ‘B-.’ Keep in mind, these are ‘average’ scores/grades — some hospitals have better-than-average grades, while others have below-average grades.
Going forward, Iowa hospitals must address whether or not having mid-level grades on ‘trust’ are acceptable. Since competition can be fierce within certain markets, low trust in a particular hospital can adversely impact hospital revenue over time.
Hospitals may advertise their quality – perhaps a national publication has included them in one of their quality rankings. But merely telling the public they provide quality is far different from consistently demonstrating this over the long term.
Given the pressure that Mr. Burgin was under to keep this information hidden, he should be recognized for his courageous intent on maintaining the public’s trust. Why not create a special award for those who demonstrate this selfless quality? We could call it “Profiles in Health Care Safety Courage,” to promote similar actions by other health care workers. I would like to think that this on-going award would be recognized by the media and others who want to help promote the ‘trust’ factor in healthcare. It’s certainly something to think about and I welcome any ideas you may have on this topic.
Trust should NOT be something we randomly give away. It is one performance indicator that can be greatly improved through a systematic and transparent approach. Isn’t it time to do so?
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