Tuesday, April 19, 2016

More than money back: a true commitment to service

Knowing that I am a hospital administrator, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that this headline--$80,000 in refunds: What Geisinger has learned from its money-back guarantee immediately caught my attention. When it popped up in my inbox on Monday, and I clicked right through to read the corresponding article. The article details Geisinger Health System CEO David Feinberg’s newly implemented plan of offering money-back guarantees to dissatisfied patients. 

After reading the piece, I applaud Geisinger’s (and Feinberg’s) renewed emphasis on providing quality service and a positive patient experience. I think focusing on the experience the patient and the family receive is incredibly important in any health care delivery system. Yet, I can’t help find the offer of “money-back guarantee” more of a gimmick than a program to improve quality.

Health care organizations should be focused on providing the best possible service and patient experience today and every day, and should not be motivated by the threat of having to return money. The drive for quality should be systemic and thoughtful - not punitive in nature. Sure, you can return a patient’s money if they do not feel like they got the level of care they deserved, but in the process, are you improving the quality you provide? If not, then what’s really the point?

At Jupiter Medical Center we review feedback in a variety of contexts. For example, we have a monthly patient focus group where we meet with a group of engaged former patients who provide us great information related to the experience they received at the medical center. In addition, we utilize some traditional quality measuring tools including HCAHPS—an extremely effective platform to measure patient satisfaction. More importantly, we have systems in place to ensure that our culture is focused completely on the experience of our patients, families, physicians and team members throughout our total system of care. 

Personally, I believe that if you want to achieve world-class service, you need to focus on creating a positive service culture. You need to think through the elements of what supports and fosters being able to deliver that world-class service from bottom to top and focus on every touch point in between. At our medical center we require all team members to go through a three-day course called “Reigniting the Spirit of Caring” which is built on the Relationship-Based Care (RBC) model. Relationship-Based Care is completely focused on creating a nurturing environment that starts with team members supporting each other. The goal is that the connection translates into the patient experience.

A culture of delivering world-class service, in my opinion, is not built on programs, initiatives or gimmicks. It is built on a solid cultural foundation that becomes part of the DNA of the organization and how it operates at every level and at every moment. Programs come and go, but a strong culture focused on supporting each other and our customers can last a lifetime.

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