If you want to go (if you’ll pardon the cliché), from good to great, the key is NOT to focus primarily on service excellence. A service of politeness is not enough in the hearing care business if we are not also meeting people’s emotional needs.
Now, I know what you're thinking..."What?!? Now I have to worry about someone's emotional experience as well as how they are receiving their professional experience?"
My answer (if, and only if, you want to really make your practice stand out as a leader in your community) is YES, you absolutely do!
Obviously, we need to train and develop hearing healthcare professionals and our practice staff members on how to provide patient-centered care. Traditionally, this has involved service excellence programs like those adopted to healthcare from Disney or the Ritz Carlton. These have moved some practices light years ahead of where they were ten years ago, but they only go so far.
Imagine a patient who has had negative experience with hearing aids. Certainly the technology and style selected may have played a role. They may have received training on use and care of the product and if they were lucky, they were enrolled in a aural rehabilitation program that helps them maximize the potential of their own auditory processing skills. The professional could have done all of that and the experience can still be less than ideal or worse, the experience could have felt flat, like buying an appliance for the patient and the family.
Think about it...One audiologist may be highly conscientious and clinically competent and taking all the right steps to address the situation. She’ll provide the right treatment and the patient’s communication situations may improve, but she doesn’t attempt to calm the patient or instill a sense of confidence and even fails to pick up on the anxiety. Another audiologist, may not be quite as conscientious or experienced. She may even take a bit longer to figure out exactly what to do, but she is more comforting. She knows to put a hand on the patient’s shoulder and to assure the family that this is normal. The hearing concerns may improve in the same amount of time, but the two patient and family experiences were very different.
We might check all the boxes on our service excellence program and pat ourselves on the back, but what if our patient satisfaction scores have not improved?
The most successful patient-centered care training programs combine service excellence principles with behavioral assessments that help provide practitioners and staff with useful insight into their OWN behavioral make-up —including healthcare-specific emotional intelligence.
For those of you unfamiliar with the terminology, Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, includes about two dozen social and emotional abilities linked to successful performance in the workplace.
Your EQ abilities can be grouped into five core areas:
• Self awareness
• Self regulation
• Self motivation
• Social awareness
• Social skills
Here's a few things you can think about to evaluate your own EQ :
1) Are you so focused on the task at hand that you fail to read the needs of patients and colleagues?
2) Are you easily able to read others’ emotions and use that information to achieve a positive outcome?
If you didn't come out of the box with high-level intuitive skills, it is an area that you can absolutely maximize. The opposite can be cultivated as well if you are highly sensitive to absorbing the energy of others, assuring you can find the right balance of engagement so as to not deplete your own emotional reservoir while satisfying that connection point in your patients.
I believe that as we are striving to create the BEST patient experience, it would behoove us to keep an eye on how we are showing up in support of that individual's hearing journey.
The new frontier of hearing healthcare is a balanced combination of INTENTION and ATTENTION to both intellectual and the emotional journey.
Want to learn more?
I coach other hearing professionals to build a confident presence by owning their authentic stories.