We all know the mantra when it comes to buying a new house or property - location, location, location. When you're in the business of healthcare, most would agree the mantra, or priority emphasis, should be customer satisfaction. No one can deny its importance.
That's why members of the Customer Satisfaction Task Force at The Chester County Hospital (TCCH), West Chester, PA, are so enthusiastic about their role in improving patient satisfaction throughout the 238-bed facility. And nurses are front and center in that ongoing effort.
The task force is one of some 16 implemented as part of TCCH's Hospital of Distinction Campaign instituted 3 years ago. While each task force is charged with improving the care provided to patients and families, the Customer Satisfaction Task Force is the most interdisciplinary. And judging by the hospital's recent Press-Ganey scores on patient satisfaction, it is accomplishing its goal - and earning accolades.
"Our core measure scores have increased," said its principal cheerleader and facilitator, Carli Meister, MSc(A), BA, RN, chair of the task force since its inception.
Meister, whose dual title is risk manager and director of customer relations, said the hospital's front-line nurses enthusiastically "bought into" the various initiatives instituted by the task force to build patient satisfaction. Those initiatives include fairly simple things such as leadership and staff hourly rounding, department "vows" posters and focus groups. Others with catchy names (Yacker Tracker and Fresh Eyes) were no more difficult to institute.
Why the Need
The Hospital of Distinction Campaign and subsequent development of the various task forces had their beginnings in 2005 when a senior core group of administrators saw the need for improvements in all areas of the hospital, including patient perceptions of satisfactory care and service, Meister explained to ADVANCE. The senior officials also wanted to put things in place to eventually seek Magnet status.
The campaign promotes increased efforts in specific performance areas to produce improved quantitative data through qualitative efforts. In other words, said Meister, the more the hospital does to raise patients' perceptions of their care through memorable experiences is usually reflected in higher customer satisfaction scores. "But you have to start with patient experience first - the front line between the patient, staff and hospital."
For example, nurses' rapid response to patient call bells - and doing more for the patients so there is less need to use the call bells - is memorable to the patients even after discharge when filling out patient satisfaction surveys.
Striving for Stellar
"Our Press-Ganey scores were relatively flat back in 2005," Meister continued. "Not bad, but on a 1-5 scale, the scores were surfacing at about 4. We wanted to move to 5s, to be more dynamic. We needed improvements that felt more measurable to the front-line staff. It's all about making the patient's memory a personal story of their relationship with nursing staff as opposed to betting on nurses getting excited solely about group data."
The Customer Satisfaction Task Force's goal is to have the nurses and staff in all departments of the hospital - including billing, housekeeping and nutrition - think about what the customer response data says to them and to question what part they can play in making a better impression on the patients.
Through staff meetings and making an extra effort to spend time with the staff "where they live" in their departments, the task force helps them see where they can make a difference that would be reflected in the Press-Ganey data.
"Improving patient satisfaction is our overall mission," Meister emphasized. "When our task forces were first established the emphasis was on establishing quantitative goals because that's what the world is all about. So we had to get to the point where we could reach for goals that could be measured."