SullivanLuallin Group's BenchMark Newsletter
May 2014  
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Welcome to another edition of our BenchMark Newsletter. We hope your Spring and your patient experience efforts are blooming! 
In this issue we'll discuss the popular and effective tool to help low-scoring providers boost their ratings: Shadow coaching! We reveal the do's and don'ts of provider shadow coaching, answer a common question about implementing an internal coaching program and reveal the post-shadow survey data after a program was put into action at one practice.
As always, feel free to  this on to your friends and colleagues!
Warm regards, 
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Do's and Don'ts of Provider Shadow Coaching

Most providers whose patient satisfaction survey scores are lower than they expect are surprised and uncertain what to do to reverse the trend.  The easy solution is a shadow coaching session during which an objective observer (administrator, colleague or other practice member) accompanies the provider throughout the day - with the permission of each patient -- to offer best practices feedback.

Physician Shadow Checklist


For best results, there are proven techniques to use and several strategies to avoid when shadowing a provider.  Here are a few:


Do: Be empathetic toward the provider. Most providers are a little unsettled by having an observer with them during each encounter.  Reassure them by explaining that you're not watching their clinical performance, but rather you'll give them feedback on the patients' reactions to their communication style.


Do:  Be concise when offering your observations.  Doctors don't have much (or any!) time between patients and can only devote a very few minutes to listen to the coach's comments.


Do:  Always begin your feedback by describing several positive techniques that you saw the provider use, i.e., knocked on entering the exam room; smiled and shook the patient's hand; sat down and gave good eye contact.


Do:  Ask if you can make a suggestion when sharing your advice.  Rather than telling a doctor what she should do, soften the approach by asking, "May I suggest another way of ...?"  It still gets the message across, but in a kinder, gentler manner.


Do:  Wear comfortable shoes when shadowing a provider.  The doctor and patient both sit down during most of the encounter, while you stand in the corner out of the line of sight of the patient.  A full day of standing gets very tiring and ill-fitting shoes only make it worse!


Don't:  Share eye contact with the patient.  Oftentimes patients will want to be courteous and include you in the discussion.  Avoid encouraging patients to speak to you along with the doctor by averting your eyes if they look your way.


Don't:  Use a clipboard to take notes.  A small, 5x7 spiral notebook is unobtrusive for jotting down your observations.


Don't:  Assume that the provider will remember your recommendations.  Before the end of the day, take a few minutes with the doctor to review all of the positive techniques you observed and the recommendations/suggestions for raising patient satisfaction scores.  Later, put them in writing and give them to the doctor as a memory jogger of what techniques will boost his or her survey scores.



Unable to implement your own shadow coaching program? We can help. We will work with you to have one of our shadow coaches observe your low-scoring provider and offer simple recommendations. Contact us to learn more!

Q. I have a doctor who could benefit from being shadowed, but he is reluctant because "only another provider really understands what I'm doing." How do I convince him otherwise?
A. That is a typical response from shadow candidates.  They assume that only another clinician knows what it takes to achieve high scores.  In fact, the ideal shadow coach is NOT a provider.  Here's why:  The shadow coach must focus solely on the patient's reaction to the provider's communication techniques.  The temptation for another doctor to mentally diagnose the patient during the visit is strong.  The ideal shadow coach is a non-clinically trained person who can relate more to the patient than to the provider.


For brief description of the conditions that MUST be present for a shadow coach session to be successful, click here

Before and After Shadow Coaching Program
The difference in scores before and after shadow coaching can be dramatic!
Before and After Shadow Coaching Program

PreviousCurrentTotal Org. Database
1. Willingness to listen carefully to you4.774.944.824.72
2. Taking time to answer your questions4.704.944.824.73
3. Amount of time spent with you4.574.864.744.64
4. Explaining things in a way you could understand4.704.914.824.72
5. Instructions regarding medication/follow-up care4.774.944.804.70
6. The thoroughness of the examination4.714.914.804.70
7. Advice given to you on ways to stay healthy4.574.914.784.66
8. Your satisfaction with the ability to see your child's own provider4.394.944.77N/A

SullivanLuallin Group is a leading provider of patient satisfaction solutions for hospitals, medical groups and provider networks. Our "Transforming the Patient Experience" engagement model solves critical patient, provider and employee engagement challenges faced by healthcare systems. We offer a wide range of services including satisfaction surveys, service quality training, physician shadow coaching and mystery patient shopping. 


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SullivanLuallin Group
3760 4th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103

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