How KU Hospital Drives Patient Satisfaction

John Commins, December 12, 2011

Sometimes people in the healthcare industry over think issues. It's all done with the best intentions, but a simple concept such as patient satisfaction can be made to appear as complex as ICD-10.  Set up a study committee. Earmark funding. Conduct a survey. Mount a marketing plan. Hire a consultant.

A story last week in The Kansas City Star provides an excellent example of how common sense customer service can have a profound impact on patient satisfaction.   

Since 1999, The Star report notes, The University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, KS, has relied on medical technician Paula Miller to lead a customer service training program.  Miller's trained about 12,000 staff—from the C-suite to physicians to parking lot attendants—on the finer points of making patients happy. As a result, patient experience scores have gone from the single digits to the high 90s.

The curriculum at KU Hospital—as it's explained in The Star piece—is basic because the message is fundamental: Treat people with respect. Miller encourages her students to look people in the eye, speak gently and respectfully, and use titles like Mr., Mrs., and Ms., when appropriate.

While the story has a feel-good element to it, there is also a bottom-line component. We all know that starting next October dollars will be attached to higher Medicare patient satisfaction scores.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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