October 18, 2018

Major initiative set to enhance VUMC’s culture of service

At some point, everyone has had a customer service experience that was disappointing. Even though everything else may have met or exceeded expectations the things people tend to remember are often the negatives.

At some point, everyone has had a customer service experience that was disappointing. Even though everything else may have met or exceeded expectations the things people tend to remember are often the negatives.

Increasing choices for health care consumers means that offering the best service is more important than ever. While Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s hospitals and clinics are recognized as among the nation’s best for superior care, feedback from patients through post-visit survey responses indicate that opportunities exist for improvement in areas related to their overall experience.

To address this, next week Medical Center leaders are launching a new, two-year initiative called “Defining Personalized Care — Elevating Our Culture of Service.” The initiative is designed to significantly improve the ability to deliver personalized care through exceptional service.

“Average Jo” and the “Exceptional” people are part of the educational effort around “Defining Personalized Care — Elevating Our Culture of Service.”

Building on the foundation set forth by the Medical Center’s Credo, Mission, and Patient and Family Promise, this initiative will, through clearly defined learning opportunities, lay a strong foundation for VUMC to differentiate itself not only for providing highly personalized clinical care, but to also be nationally recognized for patient experience, including exceptional service.

To prepare for this initiative, since August more than 700 Medical Center leaders have already participated in “Leader as Coach” workshops modeled after the “Cup of Coffee Conversations” that were a successful element used throughout the “Clean Hands Save Lives” hand hygiene awareness campaign.

“We cannot underestimate the importance of providing excellent customer service that matches our excellence in training, research and clinical care. To improve and personalize the service we provide for our patients, their families and to each other, we must help each other understand how we define behaviors that reflect outstanding service and become comfortable holding each other accountable when service is falling short,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer for VUMC.

“Every member of our team needs to have the knowledge and skills to make sure they are demonstrating these behaviors consistently and in real time, while every interaction is a chance to deliver excellent personalized service to all those we serve.”

“Defining Personalized Care- — Elevating Our Culture of Service,” kicks off on Thursday, Oct. 25. Leaders will receive an invitation from Pinson via the Elevate email address inviting them to participate in the first segment, “Defining Personalized Care: Be Welcoming.” The same invitation from the Learning Exchange will be sent to all other members of the Medical Center community on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

The initiative is being led by Cory Colton, executive director of Learning and Development, and Brian Carlson, senior director of Patient Experience.

“For this campaign to truly make a difference and become hardwired into our organization, its success depends on everyone, but especially on engaged leaders and managers, to serve as role models and coaches to set the tone for their work areas,” Colton said. “We all need to understand why we are working on service and why it is important to make others feel welcome.”

Over the next two years a new learning segment will be rolled out each quarter. The “Defining Personalized Care: Be Welcoming” segment, which takes less than 15 minutes to complete, consists of a short video that focuses on three universal behaviors to improve personal connections at the start of every interaction: 1) acknowledge others with a smile, 2) be present in the interaction, and 3) call people by name.

“Responses from our patients to the Press Ganey surveys and our Patient Relations team indicate that, while many aspects of the patient experience are favorable, we have important work to be done, particularly in the areas of friendliness and how we communicate with them,” Carlson said. “We want our patients to feel great about every aspect of their experience with us and through this initiative we have the opportunity to achieve this goal.”

More information about “Defining Personalized Care — Elevating Our Culture of Service” is available at the Elevate website at https://ww2.mc.vanderbilt.edu/Elevatesite/ and the Human Resources website under the Leader Central tab at https://hr.vumc.org/.