March 2012
In This Issue
The REAL clout in your practice...
Users Corner...
Q & A: The Care Team
View our profile on LinkedInFollow us on Twitter Join Our Mailing List


Hello again and welcome to the March edition of our BENCHMARK newsletter! In this issue we'll discuss the care team's influence on patient satisfaction; the importance of assessing insider's perceptions; simple techniques to create a bond between doctors and employees and a national comparison of the question on "employee praise" from our employee engagement survey.  



 Please feel free to forward this letter to your friends and colleagues.   


  - The SullivanLuallinGroup


The REAL clout in your practice...


Who really has the power to make or break your practice? Sure people look to payers including the government and insurance companies. But you can have great reimbursement rates and still go down the tubes.

In reality, your staff members have more power to influence patient choice and referrals than most providers give them credit for. As a mystery patient, I approached the counter in a family practice a second time to ask if the doctor were running on time. The young woman, looking a bit frustrated, responded, "Oh he never runs on time. I don't know why people keep coming back here."

Another member of the practice who has control over the financial health of the office is the scheduler. It's usually up to her whether or not to book that last patient of the day. If she wants to end the call quickly she simply has to say, "Dr. Smith is totally booked. You'll have to call again another time."

How does a group build the team that builds the practice? Use simple techniques that create a bond between the doctor(s) and employees and as well as between departments. Below are three simple suggestions:

1.  Always refer to the group of employees as the Care Team. It conveys to everyone (including patients) that all of your employees are part of a team whose role is to deliver patient care.


2.  Assess insider perceptions of teamwork, intra-office communication, recognition and other factors that affect staff member performance. Go to PIN 1234 for a sample of the questions on a customizable engagement survey.


3.  Use the results of the engagment survey to develop team-building sessions with physicians and staff. Depending on how your practice scores various questions, the workshop can address issues including communication between front and back office; communication between providers and nurses/medical assistants; and other situations that hinder the delivery of good internal and external customer service. At a recent gathering of the care team of a six-doctor office, the group identified the characteristics of a great team player; analyzed their own strengths and limitations; and made commitments to improve their own performance. In addition, six teams made up of one physician and four staff members listed ways that each could be more helpful to each other. The final activity in the session was to create a list of "Rules of the Road" - an office "compact" for working together with more camaraderie and less drama!


 -Meryl Luallin


  User's Corner...  



Our database consistently shows that there's a major difference in perception between staff members and providers when it comes to appreciation for a job well done.  Showing the results of the engagement survey to the doctors is often all it takes to raise their awareness of the disparity between opinions.  Also, reminding providers to thank staff for their efforts on a regular basis will boost employee ratings and morale quickly!


Q&A: The Care Team


Q. We've considered conducting an engagement survey of our staff members, but I'm afraid that if we do and then don't do anything with the results, it'll be a waste of time. How really important is it?


A. Your dilemma is understandable. However, since staff performance has an effect on the patient experience - and to some extent patient compliance - it's vital to know employees' perceptions of working conditions; sense of being appreciated; teamwork between departments; and other issues that influence their service performance. When you receive the results of the insider (engagement) survey, acknowledge the employees' efforts in completing the survey and commit to addressing one of the most pressing issues. It's usually either lack of recognition by physicians or a communication problem. Fixing the first item is easy enough with constant reminders to the doctors. The communication issue between staff members, when discussed during a staff meeting, can often be improved with minimumal effort.

SullivanLuallinGroup 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 Patient Satisfaction surveys.