While the celebrations are over, we want to wish you a happy and prosperous New Year! This quarter, we spotlight the Zangmeister Center's strategy for raising patient survey scores; tips for encouraging patients to
exercise; and a regional comparison of patient satisfaction with hours of
operation. We hope you also enjoy the heartwarming story of Elliott, one Pediatrician's "assistant."
Please feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends and colleagues - and have a terrific 2010!
- The SullivanLuallin Team
Eulogy for Elliott
This heart-warming article is written by Ann Troy, MD
- a Pediatrician practicing in San Rafael, CA whose popular practice owes much
of its allure to its canine physician assistant!
Elliott was, to put it
simply, the world's most wonderful dog.
He was evaluated as a puppy
by Canine Companions for Independence who wanted to use him as a breeder. Somehow he got neutered by mistake and they
were devastated. Their loss was my
gain. He was given to me when he was six
Thus he began a new career as
a physician's assistant in a pediatric office.
He was there to warmly welcome and reassure patients and their parents,
to distract and comfort a frightened child, to cuddle up with while have a
breathing treatment or waiting to lab results, and to make us all laugh and
Elliott was so gentle I could
trust him with a two week old baby and somehow their mothers knew it too. Once he was standing in my waiting room with
his mouth open and a toddler waddled up to him and stuck his hand and a biscuit
into Elliott's mouth. Much to our
amazement, Elliott just stood there perfectly still! He was the most patient, loving and gentle
being I have ever known.
There were patients who would
come to my office because Elliott was there - some of them even pretended to be
sick so they could visit him! The many
drawings of him on my waiting room walls are a testimony to how important he
was and how much he was loved.
peacefully in my arms on September 10, 2007 after almost 13 years of living and
loving life fully. He is sorely missed -
and loved forever.
In the Best Practices...
Spotlight on The Mark H.
isn't easy to maintain survey scores when you're going through a major
transition...it's even tougher to raise
what confronted us as we consolidated four practices sites into one, in a brand-new
building for our 13 Oncologists, 2 Radiation Oncologists, 170 staff members,
and full diagnostic testing and ancillary services," says Glenn Balasky,
Executive Director of the Center, which annually serves more than 10,000
patients in Central Ohio.
did it well. During the transition
period, scores on the 33-question patient survey went up - 24 of them were
significantly higher than in the previous period. Overall, patient satisfaction rose 11.3% to
the 55th percentile of the MGMA-SullivanLuallin Oncology database.
had to plan carefully," adds Tracey Wilcox, Clinical Operations
Manager. "Anticipating higher
patient volume, we analyzed our work processes as well as people's performance,
and modified strategies as we monitored work flow, staff deployment, and
patient reactions to the changes."
the key tactics was an early-warning service recovery process. "Knowing that patients become more loyal
if their concerns are addressed quickly by people who really want to help, we
used NotifyMD to give us better control over telephone communication, with
automatic roll-over to a 'live' person with authority to resolve issues and
find solutions." A corollary effort
involved working with receptionists who used recommended "scripts" to
collect co-pays and annual fees required by their health plans.
practice kept close watch on patient compliments, and established a system for
letting staff members know that their extra-step efforts were appreciated. As a result, several have received plaques
naming them "Master in the Art of Caring," and competition for the
award increases each month.
can adapt to change in minimal time," says Glenn, "if we anticipate what
needs to happen, communicate well, listen to good ideas, and have patience as patients
and their families come to accept new ways of providing patient-focused care
We'd say they did a
great job. (By the way, do YOU have a recognition program
for letting your superstars know they're appreciated? Tell us about it!)
Q & A: Increasing Patient Compliance When it Comes to Exercise
of my patients are significantly overweight and aren't very compliant when I
suggest exercise. Is there a way to get
them to be more active?
Much depends on how you
describe what you want your inactive patients to do. An interesting study was reported in the
April 13th 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. The article noted that patients seem to make
a distinction between doctors' orders and doctors' advice. For example, if a
physician says, "Take one pill each morning," patients tend to adhere to the
order. However, if the doctor says, "You
should cut down on sweets," they'll ignore the advice. Further, the study found that if patients
were given a "prescription" to exercise, more of them followed through. Bottom line: if you want to have a better
shot at changing behavior, treat your advice as if it were a prescription.
Write the specific recommendation (i.e., "walk around the block once each day")
on a prescription pad and hand it to the patient.
Regional Differences in Patient Satisfaction with Hours of Operation
the competition from Minute Clinics around the country, it's interesting to see
which region has the highest perception of convenient hours.
SullivanLuallin specializes in patient satisfaction
services, and is the premier healthcare customer service consulting firm in the
nation. For over 25 years, we've helped physician practices implement Customer
Service Initiatives that produce immediate improvement and ongoing results. Clients
come to us for on-site and web-based Customer Service training, Shadow Coaching
for low-scoring physicians, Mystery Patient/Mystery Caller assessments, and
Customer Satisfaction surveys.