College Colors Day – what we can learn in health care

Today is college colors day and that means a couple of things.  First, it’s a great marketing idea and colleges across the country will sell a lot of merchandise because they’ve convinced us to wear/buy the college logo gear of our choice.  Second, its college football season and games will kick off tonight.  Third, Mizzou is undefeated.  Fourth, there’s a lesson to be learned by health care organizations like ours…

Colleges do a great job building loyalty and developing a brand.  They also do a great job convincing us that we should show our team pride and school spirit by touting their colors.  I believe we can learn a valuable lesson from “College Colors Day” and demonstrate a similar show in pride of our own organization.

Colleges build brand loyalty in a number of ways.  Colleges do a great job reaching out to their alumni and reminding them that they are alumni.  Colleges do a great job promoting their sports teams and the more the team wins the more they promote the team because they know that everyone wants to associate with a winner.

If colleges can be successful building loyalty with alumni and fans don’t you think hospitals can do just as good or better building loyalty with patients and staff…  Each patient we touch has an  experience and it’s up to us to make sure that experience is memorable for the right reasons.  It’s easy for a patient to remember an encounter when they had a long wait or they were stuck numerous times with a needle and as hard as we try to avoid them, those things are going to happen. 

What’s difficult is for us to show empathy, caring and patience in such a manner that the patient has a stronger memory of the great care they receive as opposed to the barriers to care that are inevitable.  Communication and a smile go a long way to help our patients remember us for the right reasons.

College sports teams build loyalty because they are viewed as indestructible.  Violent collisions, adverse conditions and an able opponent help to create drama that is compelling to watch.  In the hospital setting the opposite occurs – vulnerability and helplessness are the prevailing themes.  Instead of great warriors in the field of play we are protectors and comforters of the human spirit in the field of health.  Rather than fire up and build excitement it’s our role to decrease anxiety and put at ease those who need care.  No one wants to receive services at a hospital but when they’re necessary our patients want to be confident that they are receiving our best effort just as we want to believe that our favorite college teams leave everything on the field.

Most of us have a favorite college team and we want our team to win.  When our team wins they build more loyalty.  When a college team wins they get bragging rights or a trophy.  Our patients want a winning team to take care of them and no team is more important than the team that provides health care to a patient.

Health care is the ultimate team sport.  From physicians to nurses to therapists to food service to admitting to custodial staff each team member plays a key role in the successful outcome of a patient.  Each person on every team, sports or health care, plays a role and if one person isn’t successful the entire team suffers and in health care the patient suffers.

In health care we need to spend more time fist pumping, high fiving and chest bumping one another because we are the greatest team ever assembled and we are fighting for the greatest prize – someone’s life!  We need to do a better job letting our patients know that we are their team and they are our goal.  We need to work hard to build loyalty and to help our patients realize we have a common goal – their wellbeing!

Show your colors, be proud of your team and don’t forget what you’re playing for.  Our team saves lives! 

We should pick a day to designate as “Health Care Colors Day” and celebrate the greatest team ever assembled – The Health Care Team!

About Craig Thompson

I am a young professional with two great sons, and I work in the healthcare setting. I am employed in hospital administration and serve as Chief Executive Officer at Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare in Clinton, Missouri. At GVMH we care for our families, friends and neighbors. We're committed to providing the safest, friendliest and most compassionate care to all we serve.
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