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Fast-Service Guarantee Works for Texas Hospitals

Doug Desjardins, for HealthLeaders Media, February 2, 2011

Marketing campaigns that promise "satisfaction guaranteed or your money back" are risky, but often effective. I saw this first-hand in college delivering pizzas for Domino's, which had recently launched a campaign that guaranteed customers would get their pizza for free if it wasn't delivered within 30 minutes. People rarely got a free pizza but everyone knew about the promotion and business thrived.

Now, a group of specialty hospitals in Texas is using a similar program to promote emergency care. Emerus Hospital Partners, a five-hospital network with facilities in the Houston and Dallas areas, has a program that guarantees free care for emergency department patients if they don't see a doctor within 15 minutes. The clock starts ticking as soon as patients complete their paperwork to check in.

"So far, there have been only 17 occasions where we didn't meet the deadline and those patients were low-acuity because we still operate on a triage system," said Randy Park, MD, chief medical officer for Emerus. "So we've failed to meet the deadline in less than one percent of our cases and those patients were very happy to receive their care for free."

Emerus operates specialty hospitals that provide a full suite of emergency care, including CT scans, ultrasounds, x-rays and on-site lab and pharmacy services. The 24-hour emergency hospitals are staffed with experienced emergency department physicians, which Park says makes a difference in delivering results. 

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