UNDERCOVER IN A HOSPITAL BED
The New York Times
Recently this interesting article about hospital mystery shopping appeared in the electronic version of the NY Times: Undercover in a Hospital Bed Secret shoppers pretend to be sick to help make hospitals safer for everyone else. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/16/well/live/secret-shopper-hospital.html
After reading the article and the various reader responses, I thought to myself, “It’s about time that hospitals embrace mystery shopping to help them assess the patient experience.” In spite of the fact that hospitals began measuring patients’ perception of their care in 2008; although there are financial incentives tied to patient experience performance; although the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade scores hospitals on how safe they keep their patients and the patient experience Star Ratings can have brand and competitive implications, most hospitals are still reluctant to embrace the benefits of mystery shopping.
Perhaps this reluctance is due to the fact that mystery shopping is challenging to execute successfully in a hospital ER or OP facility, and particularly in a hospital inpatient unit. While most experienced mystery shopping companies can conduct inquiry and scheduling calls with relative ease, there aren’t many companies yet that have the background and experience to conduct these more complicated visits successfully. Perhaps, equally importantly, as other commentators mentioned in response to the NY Times article, the process and benefits of hospital mystery shopping are poorly understood — or misunderstood. Concerns and objections are legion–some very real or understandable: e.g. It takes time away from real patients; there are patient risks. Others are more self serving: e.g. It’s unethical; it’s a waste of time; a waste of money; it’s spying, etc.
At Devon Hill Associates, we’ve done hospital mystery shopping for over 20 years and have heard them all (see the article about us on our website published in the 1996 Sunday NYTimes ). But it’s time for more hospitals to embrace a tool that provides useful, actionable, sometimes otherwise unobtainable information that may uncover the source of puzzling or seemingly intractable patient experience problems, and even uncover unrecognized safety and care issues, as well.
#patient experience #hospital safety #healthcare mystery shopping #medical mystery shopping# #operations#