Since the implementations of the Affordable Care Act, hospitals have started seeing the impact of less than impressive customer satisfaction scores have on their financial bottom line (“Shining a Light Health Insurance Rate Increases.”). Mercy hospital has not been spared by this unfolding development in the health sector. According to Press Ganey surveys, the customer service score for Mercy hospital was in the 6th percentile in 2011. With a renewed focus on excellence in the areas rated, healthcare leaders are focusing on key areas of quality and satisfaction improvement, since even small changes can have an impact (“Kaiser Health News”) Some analysts believe that urban safety-net hospitals and hospitals handling more complex case more frequently possess an inherent disadvantage in the area of customer satisfaction.3This is even more crucial for safety-net institutions as the reduction of payments comes not only from the value-based purchasing approach set forth by the Affordable Care Act, but also by a reduction in half to the money set aside to reimburse safety-net hospitals for the disproportionate share of uninsured patients they see. There is need for the resolution of low customer service satisfaction problem in Mercy hospital. This can be done through interactive, investigative training program for emergency department staff. The Customer Service Initiative (CSI) training allows learning and participating in real life scenario. The program has five stations, investigative approach to customer service. In each station, participants are given broad scenarios and directed to act them out, while course moderators are interjecting with challenges a healthcare provider may encounter. Don’t Break The Chain. The first station in the investigation focuses on the proper use of a chain of command when handling customer complaints, employee disputes or interdepartmental challenges. In this station, staff members share how they solve difficult customer service situations and moderators are expected to reinforce proper chain of command and service recovery strategies.Collecting Evidence. This is the second station that highlights the importance of non-verbal cues health care provider can collect from patients and their family members. For instance, staff members can interact and observe patients with cervical spine immobilization to underline the discomfort and emotional stress patients experience when arriving to the trauma center. Various other scenarios can be used to emphasize how patients and family members may not always voice their concerns, but rather give them away through body language and facial expressions. Teamwork. In this third station participants are given a less than perfect, somewhat challenging 3D puzzle to solve, with the added stress of being limited by time to complete the puzzle. Moderators then give feedback on the dynamics of each team, the importance of working together within the department and throughout the hospital. The often self-reliant emergency department staff members were also reminded of available resources and inter-departmental collaborative programs.Case of Communication. This station is designed to highlight areas of improvement in communication with the patients and family members. Participants share their past experiences that allow them to acknowledge the importance of appropriate and often communication with patients and family members, while the moderators present tools and direction to improve patient communication and stress the importance of the patient’s perception through acted out scenarios.DNA (Don’t Negative Answer). This is the final station of the course that addresses the importance of proper phone etiquette. In a department spreading over the size of a football field, different areas of the department may seem like foreign land to caller from outside and within the hospital. Moderators provide the direction and tools in assisting callers to the approximate person or location.Outcomes The customer service initiative program shall benefit the hospital in many ways. First, it shall improve the customer satisfaction level and ensure that patients receive quality services. Quality and customer oriented healthcare services shall increase demand for value based purchasing of healthcare services. Consequently, the Mercy hospital shall be financially stable due to increased revenues. The customer satisfaction score is expected to increase from 6th percentile to 25th percentile by the last quarter of 2014. Second, the initiative shall promote an individualized approach to customer service challenges the hospital is facing. The nurses, CA’s, registration, phlebotomy, radiology techs, and MD’s shall be involved in the creation of the course. It is expected that the staff shall own up the program and use their creativity to elevate the performance of their department and perfect the care and service they provide to their patients.Pillar of excellence The proposed customer service action plan shall fall under quality pillar of excellence. Quality is concerned about maintaining high standards, improvements of service delivery systems, implementing desired changes and putting in place a monitoring and feedback system. It also provides means for measuring outcomes and organizational excellence (Studer, 2013). Quality of services has a direct influence on the customer satisfaction. A nurse who is not able to interpret non-verbal cues of a patient is likely not to deliver quality service to the respective patient. Moreover, a hospital with disjointed and unclear channels for reporting and handling customer’s complaints is likely to have low customer satisfaction scores. Mercy hospital needs to assure the clients that it places emphasis on quality healthcare services by ensuring that it meets the expectations of patients. The less perfect customer satisfaction score is a problem that Mercy hospital has to resolve as a matter of priority. Find solutions to this problem shall have a positive implication on the quality of services provided at the hospital. It shall ensure that the staffs work as a team whenever they are engaged in the provision of care services to patients. Moreover, resolving the problem shall increase ensure that that feedback channels are strengthened. The feedback from patients can be used to modify procedures, standards and policies that are meant to boost the quality of services.Theory This proposal is based on Lewin’s Force Field Analysis model. Lewin viewed change as a combination of forces working on different directions within the organization. These forces either drive up or oppose changes. To this end, change is implemented by increasing the strength of forces of change while eliminating restraining forces (Borkowski, 2009). Consequently, there is the need for understanding of both internal and external environment under which the organization operates. The process involves the identifying of issues, interest and forces that can be changed to achieve desired behavior or outcome. Lewin proposed three steps for implementing planned changes. The first step is freeze that involves making the people understand the differences between prevailing practices and desired outcomes. It entails defining objective, assessing the current conditions, identifying new demands, conducting management audit analysis and reviewing the action plan. This process should be spearheaded by the moderators. It is expected that the step shall take two months. The second step is change that involves the implementation of designed practices. It encompasses creation of guiding coalition and empowering of staff to work and achieve program’s objective and vision. It is expected that this step shall take the longest duration of 10 years. It should be implanted by the staff of emergency department and moderators. The third step is unfreezing that involves adjustments of changes and monitoring. The process is expected to take 10 years and it should be conducted by the moderators.Data The implementation of CSI program requires the collection of data that shall be used for purposes of evaluating the performance and monitoring implementation level. The service delivery satisfaction scores for patients shall be collected and analyzed. The data is expected to indicate whether the hospital is improving in customer services or not. The other important data is the number of staff participating in the program. The number shall show whether the hospital has achieved required training level.Instruments There are numerous changes that are anticipated in the course of the implementation of the program. These changes shall be documented in the professional project planning software such as MS Project. This software has the capability of adjusting the timelines according to modifications done on project items. Satisfaction questionnaire used by Human Resource departments other instrument that shall be used for monitoring changes in satisfaction level or score. These tests have questions that measure both cognitive and affective satisfaction.
Borkowski, N. (2009). Organizational behavior, theory, and design in healt care. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
KHN: Kaiser Health News. (n.d.). Nearly 1,500 Hospitals Penalized Under Medicare Program Rating Quality. Retrieved April 22, 2014, from http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/stories/2013/november/14/value-based-purchasing-medicare.aspx
Shining a Light on Health Insurance Rate Increases. (n.d.). - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Retrieved April 22, 2014, from https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Fact-Sheets-and-FAQs/ratereview.html
Studer, Q. (2013). Results that last: Hardwiring behaviors that will take your company to the top. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.