A survey recently came out that was provided by the Niagara Health Quality Coalition. It was on how people perceived their care at local hospitals, as compared to national averages.

It wasn’t pretty locally. Of the Syracuse area hospitals, only one, St. Joseph’s, ended up ahead of the national average of 64% in satisfaction. St. Joseph’s was at 71%, which isn’t great either, but it’s better than the others, which are:

Crouse Hospital – 57%
Community General – 58%
University Hospital – 55%

Other hospitals close to the Syracuse area that ranked above the national average were:

Community Memorial, Hamilton – 74%
Oswego Hospital – 67%

When I was in college, most of the college kids used to say that Oswego Hospital was one of the worst hospitals they’d ever seen. I learned later on that most college kids think the hospital in their area is the worst they’ve ever seen, even if they’ve never been in that hospital. Perceptions spread like wildfire; all it takes is one person to say it to someone they like even just a little bit and it spreads like the gospel after that.

So, we know that perception isn’t always the reality; or is it? How bad is the economy? With unemployment reaching 10%, we could say it’s not that bad because at least 90% of the people are working. Yet, our perception is different. The housing market has suffered some major hits, and we hear some pretty bad numbers. Yet, at least 80% of the people in the country have been unaffected personally by the housing crisis. We hear about bank closings, and the stock market crashing, all this really bad news, yet every single person’s money was protected if it was in a bank, closing or not.

Perception is reality to the person with the perception, which is why we, as leaders for now, need to always strive to change negative perceptions and input positive perceptions. When it comes to health care especially, as President Obama has health care in his sights, and his associates are finding ways to blame hospitals for “wasteful practices.” I’m tired of reading that one because it’s not true for the majority of hospitals in this country, yet it’s once again the perception, one that hospitals and physicians are constantly fighting. Yes, there are some of each who are intentionally sneaky and deceptive, and some others who have been doing some things wrong that they didn’t know were wrong. But it’s not endemic of the industry to automatically believe they’re all this bad.

That the national average for satisfaction in hospitals is only 64% has to be troubling to the industry. Anyone who can find a silver lining in a figure like that doesn’t care about their facility. Even if it’s not true, the leaders will need to find ways to turn the perception around. It may have to start with their own employees, of course, but it can’t continue in this fashion.

Maybe they need some leadership training; someone pass my number along to them. 🙂