Ensuring the Patient Comes First
Building on past initiatives it has put in place to improve patient satisfaction at its hospitals, the North Shore-LIJ Health System is moving ahead with other aggressive steps to significantly enhance customer service, and hold employees and managers accountable for achieving service excellence standards. “Good service is a day-in, day-out occurrence that must become ingrained in our culture,” said Michael Dowling, the health system’s president and chief executive officer.
In a reflection of the importance that the entire healthcare industry is placing on service excellence, the federal government is scheduled to start publicly reporting patient satisfaction scores at hospitals nationwide this fall. “Soon, anybody with a computer and access to the Internet will be able to compare hospitals on how well they meet the expectations of patients,” said Mr. Dowling. “We want—and need—to be the people’s choice.”
A Series of Initiatives
Committed to creating a culture in which the patient comes first, the health system is rolling out a series of initiatives aimed at putting patients’ needs front and center, which include:
- Hiring uniformed concierge staff to welcome and direct patients and visitors as they enter North Shore-LIJ facilities, installing better wayfinding signage, and making patient information offices more visible.
- Reviewing the contracts and staff of valet parking vendors to ensure they are meeting expectations.
- Improving housekeeping, maintenance and the overall appearance of facilities, especially lobbies, hallways, patient exam and rest rooms, and enforcing policies that prohibit smoking within close proximity of buildings.
- Enhancing services and minimizing waiting times in hospital emergency departments, including hiring concierge staff to assist and update patients and visitors; providing patients and families with refreshments, snacks, pillows, blankets and other comforts; and better addressing the communication problems faced by non-English speaking patients.
- Having administrators make daily “care and comfort rounds” to patients’ rooms to ensure that their needs are being met.
- Establishing a system for following up and tracking concerns expressed by patients and family members to ensure that they have been addressed, as well as assigning staff to follow up with patients after they have been discharged to check on their recovery.
“Healthcare is a people business,” said Mr. Dowling. “We have an obligation to be at our best when the people we serve are feeling at their worst.”