November 2, 2007

Focus on service key to success: Goldberg

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Vanderbilt University Hospital CEO Larry Goldberg talks at last week’s Leadership Breakfast Club meeting. (photo by Neil Brake)

Focus on service key to success: Goldberg

Health care consumers are often swayed by perceptions about innovation, quality, price and service.

Vanderbilt is sitting pretty right now in terms of overall consumer preference, but when it comes to service, the Medical Center remains potentially vulnerable to competitors, Larry Goldberg, CEO of Vanderbilt University Hospital, told the Leadership Breakfast Club last Friday.

“We're one of the few academic medical centers that doesn't have problems. We're doing extremely well on quality and service. Our beds are fully staffed,” Goldberg said.

With consumers clamoring for Vanderbilt's services, the Medical Center is able to negotiate favorable prices with insurance plans, he said.

VUMC is seen as the top innovator in its market, the specialty provider of choice, and has recently made dramatic progress toward the top on most publicly reported quality measures. But all of that goes only so far with consumers, Goldberg said.

“Most businesses end up competing on service. This is the only area where our competitors can compete with us.”

That's a concern, he said, because “At the end of the day, 70 percent of our patients have problems that could be treated elsewhere.”

Goldberg's talk focused on several efforts to improve access and service for VUH patients.

• Food service has improved under a new management contract. More plans are taking shape to improve food service and expand menu choices for hospital patients. Additional renovation of the cafeteria is in the works and a plan to build food service kiosks around the Medical Center is under consideration.

• With help from consultants, the hospital's environmental services department is changing how it operates, and the result is a cleaner hospital. “We're not where we need to be yet, but there's been a lot of improvement,” Goldberg said.

• The planned move of several clinics and hospital services to One Hundred Oaks will be a boon to patient satisfaction. One Hundred Oaks promises easy access, and the move will take some of the pressure off Medical Center access.

• Ongoing expansion of the East Garage eases parking for patients and families.

• Volunteer services is expanding its program of greeting and escorting arriving patients and families.

• A plan is taking shape to renovate the VUH lobby. The opening of a third VUH bed tower in 2012 will be followed by renovation of the two existing towers.

Goldberg fielded questions and suggestions regarding bed management and early discharge, signage, parking administration, clinical informatics and the financial burden of TennCare.

The Leadership Breakfast Club meetings are scheduled for every other month and are designed to provide an informal setting for information sharing and conversation among several levels of management and leadership.

The meetings are hosted by the Office of News and Public Affairs.