Customer service initiative at DCHS shows progress

IRON MOUNTAIN – A “Journey to Excellence” customer service improvement program underway since January at Dickinson County Healthcare System has made measurable progress, officials said Thursday.

Accomplishments of the program were reviewed by the DCHS Board of Trustees.

Core staff members, who comprise four teams with distinct responsibilities, received training from a consulting firm last year. The four teams are: Senior Management Team; Project Management Team; Trainers/Coaches; and the Measurement Team.

Team members received training and then returned to train co-workers.

Since January the following activity has taken place throughout the healthcare system:

– Trained over 700 employees in “words that work” to promote effective communication with patients.

– Implemented a system wide formal Code of Conduct.

– Instituted bedside reporting so patients could be better informed of their care and to promote the continuity of care from shift to shift.

– Trained department managers in employee and interdepartmental rounding designed to identify and resolve problems more effectively.

– Hired HealthStream as the new surveyor of patient satisfaction, and telephone surveys have since been completed for the first and second quarters of the year.

– Identified and coached the members of the Measurement Team.

HealthStream incorporates the nationally developed Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey that was implemented at the federal level.

The data is used to assist consumers in their selection of a hospital. It is the only national standardized survey instrument and data collection methodology for measuring patients’ perspectives on health care.

Since July 2013, HCAHPS results have been based on more than 3 million completed surveys from 3,912 hospitals. Every day more than 8,400 patients complete an HCAHPS survey.

The HCAHPS survey measures patient experience in nine categories and then asks whether or not the patient would recommend the hospital to others. Categories include: nurse communication, doctor communication, responsiveness of hospital staff, cleanliness and quiet of hospital environment, pain management, communication about medications, discharge information, care transitions, and an overall rating of the hospital.

“The HCAHPS survey is so much more than just a patient experience survey,” said Susan Hadley, RN, director of nursing. “It is how our patients hold all of us accountable to meeting their needs. It is a call to action for health care leaders and staff to achieve patient centered excellence by placing our patients at the center of our work – every patient, every time.”

Hadley noted that since the beginning of the customer service improvement process “Journey to Excellence,” the HCAHPS survey scores have increased considerably from the first quarter to second quarter of this year. However, she cautions, it is too soon to conclude the initiative a success.

“We are moving in the right direction,” Hadley said.

“Our staff is more engaged, and our patients have noticed a difference. We have a lot of work to do before this process becomes second nature and achieves sustainability. But I am very encouraged with our progress to date, and I am grateful for all of the effort that has been put forth so far. We all care deeply for our patients and take our roles seriously in providing them with the very best health care,” she said.