Use the Walk-through Recording Template for cues about what to look for during your walk-through and to record your reactions.
To start any improvement effort, the Change Leader and one other person, ideally the Executive Sponsor, conduct a walk-through to experience what it’s like to be a customer of your agency or facility. The walk-through helps you understand the customer’s perspective and the organizational processes that inhibit access to and retention in treatment.
The knowledge that you gain from the walk-through will help you understand where your priorities should be and what kinds of changes will ultimately have the biggest impact on customer perceptions and the budget.
Understanding what your customers want and need— and what’s working for them and what isn’t in the way you currently do business — is critical if you want to make changes that matter. By “matter,” we mean that the changes will improve the quality of care provided to clients and will have a positive impact on the business (by driving up revenues and/or driving down costs).
One of the best ways to understand your customers is to walk through the process as they do. Actually make the phone call, drive to the facility, enter the facility, and meet the receptionist. Assume this is your first time ever. What’s it like? How does it feel? What works? What doesn’t?
1. Ask the Change Leader and one other person to play the roles of “client” and “family member.” They will need to be detail-oriented and committed to making the most of this exercise. To ensure that their experiences will be as realistic and informative as possible, have them present themselves as dealing with an addiction you are familiar with, and thus are able to consider the needs of people with that particular addiction issue.
2. Let the staff know in advance that you will be doing the walk-through exercise. Ask them to treat the team members as they would anyone else,
3. Have the Change Leader and one other person go through the experience just as a typical client and family member would. The walk-through should begin with a customer’s first contact with your agency: an addict or family member interested in obtaining treatment services making a first call for information.
4. Try to think and feel as a client or family member would. Observe your surroundings and consider what a client or family might be thinking or feeling at any given moment. Record your observations and feelings.
5. At each step, ask the staff to tell you what changes (other than hiring new staff) would improve the experience for the client, family member, and staff. Write down their ideas and feelings as well as your own.
6. Make a list of the areas that need improvement along with suggested changes to attempt. Include the perspectives of the client, family member, and staff. Sort the ideas into those that are directly linked with your team’s improvement project and those that are unrelated.
7. As a team, discuss what went well with the walk through, what didn’t go well or was confusing, and what you would do differently the next time around.
8. Share the results with your Executive Sponsor.
On the day of the appointment, arrive at the clinic or office, with the following question in mind: What would it be like if you had never been to the site before?
Continue to make note of your impressions as a client or family member new to substance abuse treatment: