Thursday, March 03, 2005

I Can't Get No Satisfaction

I've been researching literature on satisfaction surveys of late in hopes of developing one that we can use in our centers. One book I've been referencing is "If Disney Ran Your Hospital - 9 1/2 Things You Would Do Differently" by Fred Lee. Which, by the way, was recently awarded the "book of the year" award by the ACHE (American College of Healthcare Executives). It is definitely an interesting read if you work in a medical environment. I'd like to speak about many issues it discusses but, today I'll keep it to satisfaction surveys.

Most satisfaction surveys have scales from 1 to 5. With 1 being poor and 5 being excellent. When results are tabulated, the majority of institutions consider a 3 or above as a successfully satisfied customer. What is interesting about Disney's model is how they report the results of their surveys. Their surveys list responses basically on a scale of 1 to 5 like most others. But where they differ is that they only consider a response of 5 as a success. When their results are reported it may read that only 70% of their customers replied with a rating of 5. Why track only 5's and not 4's (very good) you may ask? Because to quote Fred Lee, "they are not measuring customer satisfaction; they are measuring customer loyalty." Interesting, huh?

To receive a 5 a customer must have an experience, a story. Without an experience or story a customer may be just merely satisfied because their expectations were met. But if their expectations where exceeded then there is an experience or story behind it and because of that you've likely gained a loyal customer. I could delve much further but, you can begin to see the premise of the book. That Disney's success stems from customer loyalty and believe it or not the same principles can be applied to the healthcare field.

On a side note, although I'm not a Disney fan, I had a 5 level experience with our stay at one of their resorts a couple of years ago. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge and it was well worth it. But what definitely assisted in making the trip a success was this website, Tour Guide Mike. If your planning a trip to Disney this is the ticket. I highly recommend it.

Back to building a good satisfaction survey. Below are some of the top 10 drivers of patient satisfaction according to Press, Ganey (August 03) and Gallup (1999).

1. How well staff worked together to care for you
2. Overall cheerfulness of the hospital
3. Response to concerns/complaints made during your stay/procedure
4. Amount of attention paid to your personal and special needs
5. Staff responded with care and compassion
6. Staff advised you there were going to be delays

What's interesting to note is none of these speak to the offerings of the latest technology or procedures. Lee's rationale for this is that patients expect hospitals to offer the same technology, procedures, and services. What they are most concerned about is their experience while they are there.

The most interesting one I find above is number 6. How many times have you sit in a doctor's office for an hour without one iota of why you're having to wait. In our centers we make it a practice to inform the patient of the actual reason for the delay. We've found that if informed the patients are very appreciative and much more patient.

Needless to say, after consulting this reference and others my own ideas for survey questions paled in comparison. I'm going to try a few of these questions and await the results. And by the way, we're only going to report 5's.

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