Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Congrats to them, and us!

Here are two notes I received today. They illustrate the way things can work. The first is about a competitor, the second about BIDMC.

From our VP for Human Resources:

One of our employees met with me yesterday to tell me about her experiences at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. I thought I would pass them on to you:
-- All central scheduling. One phone number for all appointments (!)
-- Appointments ran on time, and when they didn’t someone told you what was going on and what to expect.
-- There were bud vases with flowers in each ladies room, with a card that said “Thank you for choosing Newton-Wellesley”.
-- There was a person at the entrance with a button that said “Ask Me”, who would escort you as needed.
-- When an appointment was cancelled after she arrived because a provider was sick, she was offered her choice of a $10 gift certificate to the gift shop or free parking.
-- After patient satisfaction surveys, someone got back to say what actions were taken
.

Bravo to Newton-Wellesley Hospital. Lovely ideas, and well executed. We plan to steal some of them!

From a patient who had flown in from another state to see one of our hand surgeons:

Just wanted to take a minute to share with you some of my observations and experiences as a recent patient in the orthopedic department at BIDMC. In essence, I found myself a bit shocked – in a pleasant sense – by the patient-centeredness and thoughtfulness of the personnel there. I use that adjective because it is certainly not what I am used to in a medical and particularly orthopedic setting. I found the staff in orthopedics to be proactively concerned with meeting my needs as a patient – for example when I arrived substantially early for an appointment, trying to get me in on a timely basis. I also found Dr. Day and his resident physicians to work closely as a team, to exude a sense of integrity and forthrightness, and again – to be very patient-centered in their approach.

You might take such things for granted, but I assure you that much of the medical world does not come close to approximating these good standards.

7 comments:

Bwana said...

In my view, making your customer or client feel that you care about him/her, is the central challenge for any business or service organization.

The more of this sort of stuff you can do, the farther along that path you get.

Parking is just one example - a hospital should not be in the business of making money from a parking garage. OTOH, there is a reality that if you have free parking, people will use your garage while they go to a ball game at Fenway, etc. I suppose a system of validation goes some way to reducing abuse.

This is, however, not a major priority -- but an illustration of the principle.

On another note, I have not seen anything from you about the deal to build a new facility with New England Baptist Hospital.

It looks like you got the Deaconess and the Baptist. How did you miss the Catholics along the way?

It's almost as if we will see a change from BI to FBI - Faith Based Institutions!!

Congratulations.

Bwana

john trenouth said...

Hospitals have always been designed for clinicians. However an improved patient experience (or user experience, in the language of consumer products) has measurable benefits:

1) Faster patient recovery
2) Patient preference in an environment where hospitals compete with each other for patient dollars

These measures are currently small because the marketplace is only just now starting to provide options. And once patients realize they have options they will in a tectonic shift exercise them in favour of less clinical, more human-centered experiences.

The problem for hospital administrators is that, like all tectonic shifts in customer behaviour, the pressure builds slowly and imperceptibly, then all of sudden that pressure explodes and the whole game changes.

Although healthcare is a different business from consumer products, however it seems to me very likely that patients will start acting more like consumers given the option

Anonymous said...

When I visit a hospital it's never because I really want to, so having roses and guides, a "patient-centered" approach and free and easy parking can take some of the sting and anxiety out - or at the least not add any more. This is a good thing.

Hospitals are facilities where - the reality is - you will emerge in one state or another: alive or quite ripe. Medical care is serious business. It's a good guess that folks like Paul Levy understand the consequences of our disease ought never be overshadowed by the consequence of error in judgment. Paul and others in his position deserve our support and appreciation for keeping the focus on the basic mission and meaning - the preservation of life expressed in the deepest respect for each individual by everything that is done.

Medicine is an inexact science at best and often seems to blunder its way along. If left to its own, without wise counsel, it would make medical care a very inhospitable experience. Fortunately there are good administrators out there, like Paul, who stand as leaders with a vision to serve the needs of staff and patients, and who bridge the gap between the two.

I can only imagine that the job combines the deepest frustrations and sorrow with tremendous satisfaction and accomplishment, likely all in a single day.

Boston is fortunate to have fine medical institutions and great people staffing them. As I read this blog, it's clear that Mr. Levy is among them.

My hope is that his influence and the success of his efforts will be noticed and emulated.

Anonymous said...

Newton-Wellesley is a great hospital, though I personally (and I am sure I am in the minority) think they can go too far with pleasantries. I had a baby there and I was not overly thrilled when the earthy-crunchy nurse practioner spent have her time sitting, chatting and commiserating with my wife while I was silently wondering why she wasnt doing some real work.

Anyway each to there own, personally I think parking, flowers, etc is nice to have *but* at the end of the day if my family or I are sick enough to be hospitalized the only thing I care about is results, usually epitomized by the attending physician and senior residents coming around to explain exactly what is going on, what the options are, the plan of action - backed up by a superb team of experts.

Casey said...

Perhaps you can shed some light on a very pressing issue...as the CEO of a hospital (a very fine one I might add that I have unfortunately had the pleasure of staying in...) What exactly is the role of the CMO? What types of responsibilities does (s)he have? Any light you could shed on this issue would be fantastic...

Paul Levy said...

A REALLY good question. CMOs come in all shapes and sizes -- I mean organizationally. :)) Some have lots of authority and responsibility. Others end up as "lost souls" in a hospital, i.e., with a title but not much influence.

Maybe some CMOs out there would like to comment...

Anonymous said...

I heard WBZ radio today and I applaud and praise Dr. Paul Levy for bringing the issue of hospital acquired infections, and encouraging other hospitals to do the same. I have been a patient at BIDMC for over 25 years with a chronic illness and recently have acquired a life threatening bacteria in my lungs from an "unknown source" after my visits to the ER. I can only wonder if the abuse in the ER is responsible for my getting this bacteria. Especially since I saw abuse by the nursing staff in the ER when there, such as dropping rubber gloves on the floor and using those gloves to administer an IV to a patient. Tape for IV's being attached to the dirty bed rail then to the patients IV and arm. Coughing in their hands and not washing their hands then tending to patients. This is some of the neglect that must be stopped in order to prevent hospital acquired infections. The doctor's I see at BIDMC are absolutely the best and always give me the best medical care. Dr. Levy you are awesome and you are making a difference in a person's well being. Thank you! Let's hope other hospitals will follow your lead and do what is correct and not think about money first, before patient care and patient wellness.