I recently have been reading Dr. Scott Gottlieb’s book, Uncontrolled Spread. No matter your views on how this pandemic was handled by those in authority, this book is a lesson in entrenchment and something from which we can learn.
We all roll our eyes when someone tells us we can’t change a protocol or use a new procedure we suggest because, “we have always done it this way”. Habit is a very good thing when our habits are healthy. For example, we can have the good habit of getting up in plenty of time to eat a healthy breakfast, mentally prepare ourselves for our day at work and perhaps even get in some exercise before we jump in. But our habits can also be unhealthy, like skipping food for cigarettes and coffee to get us moving.
Our unshakable work habits can be as damaging as those cigarettes. That seemed to be the case with the CDC. Because they had institutionally entrenched habits, rules, protocols and “we have always done it this way” mindsets, when a new and unprecedented event didn’t follow the old rules, they couldn’t see their way out or around their SOPs to get the job done. “Perfect” took precedence over rapid. Reading the book for me is frustrating. I spend my time teaching communication and helping people move out of fixed mindsets and this is what I see on every page.
In a veterinary hospital we have good habits we need to maintain… like keeping through medical records. We can also have institutionally entrenched habits – like only allowing certain staff to answer a client’s questions when other, less in demand staff, can be trained to do so.
I recently consulted with a practice which only allowed their one – stretched very thin – licensed tech to admit surgical patients and review the paperwork with the clients. When I asked, “how many times do clients ever ask you a medical question that only you or a doctor can answer during this paperwork review?” the answer was,” maybe 5% of the time”. So, the habit or rule, was based in the misperception that clients ask questions only a tech can answer the majority of the time, when upon having an outsider (me) ask what the reality was – 95% just want to sign the papers and leave. Now we know we can train the six CSRs to go over the paperwork at admission and if that 5% has a question they can go find the RVT. This freed up about an hour of time for the technician on surgery days. As we work together I am sure we will find more ways to streamline some old processes.
The point I am making is this. Don’t get so entrenched in habit that you can’t get better, faster or smarter!
There are so many new tools like #VitusVet that help us reach our clients easier and faster with reminders, chats, and alerts. We can text them links to pay us, we can have their pet’s medication delivered same day with #VetShipRX. Our team can get home earlier with voice to text dictation tools like Talkatoo that types a 4 times the rate of a normal typist, and we can find new team members on the Hound.vet platform that attracts candidates in creative new ways. Use the Pilleye app to count your tablets and pills during inventory audits and to double check as you fill prescriptions.
There are so many great possibilities available.
Let’s just get out of our own way to explore what is out there and utilize them so we can work better, smarter and faster.
If you need help finding new efficiencies, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and I am happy to schedule an exploratory free call.