“David, you will be okay. Just take a running start from your bedroom door and jump into your bed.”
As an eight year old, I performed this flying leap ritual every night to prevent the monster under my bed from grabbing my legs and pulling me under. Oddly, I sensed the monster only at night. I played all day with wooden blocks in our basement but once the sun set, I feared going into our basement even with the lights blazing. Nighttime meant monsters under the bed and subterranean intruders.
As children, we don’t imagine lurking monsters and intruders when the sun shines. Our fears emerge at night. As adults we wrestle with nocturnal demons. As the sun sets, our imagination goes to scary places. What will happen if…if…if. What bad things may befall my loved ones? What might happen to me if…if…if.
My wife’s recent health crisis reminded me again of the importance of reducing sleepless nights for our patients and families. Our family experienced sleepless nights as our imaginations spun worse case scenarios during times of uncertainty. Fortunately, procedures were scheduled rapidly and we received results quickly thus mitigating any unnecessary sleeplessness nights for us. But the necessary sleepless nights caused me to reflect on the times when our patients and families experience unnecessary sleepless nights due to delays in scheduling or processing test results.
Tossing and turning at night, I understood the critical importance of eliminating unnecessary sleepless nights in order to create outstanding patient/family experiences. In “Lean” terms, eliminating sleepless nights equates to reducing “lead time.” I prefer the term “reducing sleepless nights to “reducing lead time” because we know intuitively that reducing sleepless nights is the right thing to do. “Reducing lead time” fails to pull at our hearts and motivate us to respond compassionately and empathetically. ”Sleepless nights” is about patients and families.
Eliminating unnecessary sleepless nights entails obtaining answers as quickly as possible to facilitate early treatment and provide reassurance and direction. This means avoiding delays in scheduling and notifying patients immediately of results and next steps.
Please feel free to comment on your own experience with sleepless nights due to health issues. As always, we encourage a free exchange of ideas, but we reserve the right to remove comments that make personal criticisms or attacks on individuals or specific businesses.