What if I told you that you could improve your practice's patient care and it wouldn't cost you a dollar? What if I told you that a minor investment of time put into your team could meaningfully change the hospice experience for your patients? 

Sounds pretty great right? IT is our belief that we are not asking the right questions. This article is all about changing that. 


The Premise

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There is power in a question. In fact, there is a lot more power in a question than most people think. The ability to ask thoughtful, open-ended questions is a tool to add to your arsenal that is well worth the time and effort.  

But why? What is it about the ability to ask meaningful, open-ended questions that is so valuable? The answer here is simply put - better questions lead to better discovery which leads to better information to act on.


How much more effective would we be if we truly understood what our patients wanted? We don’t always know what a patient is feeling or thinking. How can we? End of life care is about comfort, not about outcome. Our focus needs to be about how our efforts are making our patients feel.  Discovery is everything. And the best tool for discovery is great questioning.


The Evidence

The importance of a question is not a new idea. In fact, there are entire sales methodologies built around the tactic of asking thoughtful, open-ended questions to discover what the customer (or patient in our case) really cares about. You see, we could go around shouting value propositions from the rooftops until we are blue in the face (most companies do) or we could stop, take a deep breath, and ask a great question. Then, wait for our customer or patient to tell us what they need or care about. It’s honestly mind numbingly simple, but it works! Barry Rhein built an entire company and methodology around the idea of asking questions. You can learn more about Barry and his methods at his website http://www.sellingthroughcuriosity.com.

Questions help us discover the needs and wants of our patients.  If we learn to ask better questions, we will give ourselves the information necessary to provide a higher level of care. 


The Application

Hi Thomas, are you feeling better today?  - "Yep"

Hi Thomas, tell me how you are feeling today. - "I am feeling pretty good. Slept really well... Was hungry for breakfast. Not having any headaches today."


If we ask better questions we immediately and drastically increase our effectiveness as care providers. It is that simple. The catch is - it takes time, effort, and practice to learn the skill of effective questioning and be able to apply it to real world situations. It isn't something that you can just buy and put in the patient's home. It's something you have to work at developing. The power is in your hands.

You want a free way to improve the patient care at your hospice? Teach your staff how to ask great questions. And guess what the bonus is? You could probably have one, 30-minute meeting with your staff and come up with a list of 10 thoughtful, open-ended questions to ask each patient during a visit which would take your patient care from a 9 to a 10 every single time.

You will be surprised at what (and how much) people will tell you if you ask the right question.


Some Examples

Bad Questions (they are bad because they can be satisfied with a "yes" or a "no")

Are you interested in working with our practice?

Did you feel good about the care you received today?

Are you happy with your nurse?

Does that make sense?

Does this help?

Is this something you are interested in?

Great Questions (they are great because they can NOT be satisfied with a "yes" or a "no")

What can we do to improve your experience next time?

What is most important to you?

How can we make you more comfortable?

What would you like us to focus on today?

What is your biggest pain point with the current process?

What is your primary concern in working with us?

How would that make you feel?


Tale of the Tape - If your question can be answered with a “Yes” or with a “No” then it was a bad question.

Practice asking open ended questions and get ready for the overwhelming amount and quality of information that will be offered up to you that you can then turn around and use to deliver incredible patient care.


The Challenge

Obviously this article wouldn't be complete without an unrelated cat gif.

Obviously this article wouldn't be complete without an unrelated cat gif.

Post below a question you would ask your patient, customer, or client if you could only ask them one question.

Seriously though - post a question. Let's see what you got.