Ever since I began consulting to breast centers, my particular emphasis has been that a necessary element of every successful breast center is sustainability. The great contradiction of patient care is that, while the memorable events in a patient's experience are almost invariably the human interactions for which there is no reimbursement, we are paid only for the clinical care that is delivered. In other words, we need to provide excellent clinical care in an economically effective manner, in order to support the aspects of care that our patients identify with excellence. Or is it the other way around ? ? ?
Successfully combining clinical excellence, efficiency and service excellence has given rise to the mantra "doing well by doing good", and has been made possible by the fact that clinical excellence has generally been consistent with service excellence. We have understood that providing a special, satisfying experience for the women we serve is critical to attracting the women we need to meet our financial targets, but beyond the ubiquitous patient satisfaction surveys that have proliferated, actual measurement of service excellence has proven to be an illusive target.
I mention this challenge because service excellence is made up of several factors, each of which has a cost. In a rapidly changing healthcare environment in which the only inevitability is cost reduction, you must know which elements of service excellence are important to your patients in order to protect them from cost control pressure. The time to do this is not after you have been told to cut people or things that are or may be important. The time is now.
We recommend using a tool like Survey Monkey to regularly assess how you are doing and what is important with your patients. Survey Monkey is a cloud based product that has a HIPPA compliant version that is available for less than $1,000 per year and allows unlimited usage. We especially like the unlimited usage feature, as it allows broad based surveying that can be done on a regular basis to ensure that your findings are validated across both population and time.
Is it the granite counter tops, the nurse navigator, the warm and fuzzy robes, the ease of parking, friendly receptionist, reminder letters, the coffee in the waiting area, the rose you give to each patient as she leaves, the ability to schedule an appointment on-line, ability to access the report via secure internet, magazine selection, neat appearance of the staff, availability of Saturday appointments, ability to receive all diagnostic testing, including biopsy, in a single visit, friendliness of the staff, early morning appointments, or the cookies on Friday? Only the Survey Monkey knows!! Seriously, though, all of these have been identified as being very important in one center or another. As we fine tune our breast centers to be more responsive to our patients, we need a clearer understanding of what our patients are thinking.