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Hospitals take service cues from Disney, hotel chains

Detroit Free Press, September 21, 2011

Training at the Walt Disney Institute punctuated for healthcare executive Jean Meyer that patients are not just people in need of good care, but also valued customers looking for quality service. Toward that end, the 200-bed St. John Providence Park Hospital that she heads in Novi was constructed in 2009 with Disney's On Stage, Off Stage concept in mind. It demands a top performance from staff in visitor and patient areas. Frustrations are to be expressed in employee corridors. In an industry often associated with rules and wait times, hospitals in metro Detroit are turning to customer-service principles often borrowed from entertainment and hospitality industries. Major hospitals are making changes ahead of rules taking effect next year that will award higher Medicare reimbursements to those with the most satisfied patients, based on government surveys. The changes include more frequent nurse visits, better meal options and new customer service departments. A former Ritz-Carlton executive focuses on patient satisfaction for Henry Ford Health System. For some, that's a 5:30 a.m. doctor's appointment, a popular new offering.