Vital Signs - November 2003

January 2004

The Power of One: Reinventing Customer Service at Strong

The Power Of One logo

Continuing its efforts to focus on excellent customer service, Strong Memorial Hospital has launched a new initiative called the Power of One. The focus of this initiative is to underscore the importance of excellence in customer service among all faculty, staff and volunteers regardless of position or the amount of interaction with patients.

According to Kathy Parrinello, Strong Memorial chief operating officer, the Power of One is a culture shift for the organization as it seeks to make all hospital employees accountable for patients’ experiences at Strong.

"People come to Strong for the state-of-the-art, excellent treatment we provide here," Parrinello said. "But that’s not enough. Today, more and more people are defining their health care experience based on the personal interaction with physicians and other health care staff they meet during the course of their treatment, in addition to the quality of the clinical care they receive."

The Power of One: Reinventing Customer Service at StrongEvery hospital employee, from administrators to front line staff, has the power to positively impact a customer’s experience at Strong, Parrinello said. Whether it is a nurse interacting with a patient, a lab technician completing tests promptly and efficiently, or a staff member giving directions to visitors in the corridor, all employees play a vital role in assuring our patients leave happy and satisfied.

"In many situations, it is difficult for people to truly evaluate the clinical or technical quality of the care they receive. But everyone can evaluate how they are treated by other people," she added.

The Power of One revolves around seven core competencies that have a direct correlation to the quality of our staff’s interactions with patients and their families. These seven areas, which include sensitivity, responsiveness, privacy, professionalism, cleanliness, communication and collaboration, were identified after hospital leadership reviewed data from Strong’s customer service survey. Press-Ganey, the health care industry’s leading satisfaction measurement firm, mails about 300 surveys to patients discharged from the hospital each month. From the data received, hospital leadership developed a training program to help employees excel in each of the seven core areas.

Already, more than 300 department heads and supervisors have participated in the four-hour training session. They in turn are training their staff, focusing on one of the seven key areas each month. In addition, more than one dozen physician groups have participated in a Power of One training session.

A specific set of customer satisfaction measurements directly linked to the seven core areas is being used to help us assess our continued efforts to improve. Each quarter, departments receive updates on Press-Ganey scores against which they can measure their progress and make adjustments accordingly.

Patient perception is a large part of their experience with us; a few changed words or behaviors can create a welcoming environment, provide the family with assurance that we care, and foster a collaborative healthcare experience. It is with that in mind that we strive to create patient and family loyalty through the Power of One.


NIH Taps Research Expertise to Create New Centers

In an exceptional spurt of funding that recognizes the Medical Center's national prominence in searching for the causes and cures of a wide range of diseases, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funneled more than $20 million in the last three months to create four new research centers here.

NIH Taps Research Expertise to Create New CentersTwo of the new centers focus on neurological diseases, while the other two target the immune system. The funding will help pay the salaries of dozens of physicians, researchers, students, post-doctoral associates, nurses and support personnel, as well as training to help staff learn and use new research methods. In addition, the new funding will establish several nationwide teams of scientists led by Rochester physicians to investigate certain diseases, and also cover the cost of patient outreach and medications for ongoing studies.

"To make a discovery that improves the health of a child with diabetes, for example, or that eases the symptoms of people with muscular dystrophy, takes years of difficult research," says C. McCollister Evarts, M.D., CEO of the Medical Center and Strong Health. "We are proud that our faculty and staff are held in such high regard by the NIH that they are among an elite group of researchers selected to run such centers."

Richard Moxley III, M.D., is leading one of three muscular dystrophy cooperative research centers created by the NIH and the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). The effort will focus on the two types of muscular dystrophy most common in adults, and will build on the strides Medical Center doctors have recently made against the disease.

Just down the hallway, Robert Griggs, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Neurology, will lead one of seven national centers established by the NIH to investigate especially rare neurological disorders. The Rochester center will focus on three diseases: periodic paralysis, episodic ataxia, and nondystrophic myotonias. These three disorders are so rare that most doctors never see a single case in a lifetime of practice. Most patients go from doctor to doctor for years before receiving a correct diagnosis from a specialist such as Griggs, who is sought out by patients with rare neuromuscular disorders from around the globe.

At the new Autoimmunity Center of Excellence funded by the NIH, scientists will work closely with clinical researchers to develop treatments for three autoimmune diseases: Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and lupus, diseases where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own cells. The center will be led by Ignacio Sanz, M.D., associate professor of Medicine and of Microbiology and Immunology. Scientists will study blood and tissue samples from patients to identify wayward immune-system cells, and then search for proteins that, if disabled by a drug, would cause the cells to die or to stop attacking the body's own cells.

The immune system is also the focus of a new Human Immunology Center headed by Tim Mosmann, Ph.D., director of the Center for Vaccine Biology and Immunology. An NIH grant will establish a core laboratory where scientists from throughout the Medical Center can learn complex laboratory techniques that can be used in studies of people to create more effective vaccines. The grant will also fund several pilot projects in which researchers will develop new tests to aid in human immunology studies.


URMC/Strong Health Pharmacy Department Earns National Award

The Strong Ties pharmacy is one of only six pharmacies in the nation recently honored with the Best Practices Award from the American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP).

Strong Ties Pharmacy Team: ( l. to r.) Kerri Klajbor, Tammy Raab, George Dean, Kumar Maharaj, Donna Donalty, David Olson

The annual award program recognizes innovation and outstanding leadership in health system pharmacy, with emphasis on areas that significantly improve the quality of patient care. Strong Health Pharmacy Director Thomas E. O'Brien, and Pharmacists Kumar Maharaj and David Olson were instrumental in developing and implementing the program.

The Strong Ties pharmacy opened in 2000 inside Strong Ties' community mental health center to provide ambulatory pharmacy services to 1,100 clients with severe and persistent mental illness.

"These clients face unique challenges as they recover and reintegrate into the community," Maharaj said. "They frequently don't adhere to their prescribed treatment and require intensive medication management, especially since they are more likely to be diabetic and nicotine-dependent than the general population."

URMC/Strong Health Pharmacy Department Earns National AwardThe on-site pharmacy provides a one-stop resource for any medications that clients require, supported by a robust treatment adherence program, educational activities and wellness initiatives. To improve care, the Strong Ties pharmacy tracks client prescriptions, having refills ready as needed. Pharmacists notify providers when clients aren't taking medications or are taking them improperly. The pharmacy also provides free medications to those who cannot afford them by using stocks of samples and linking clients with programs that provide medications for indigent populations. In addition, the pharmacy's staff provides education programs to maximize the effects of medications in their treatment, and wellness programs to help with health issues commonly faced by its clients such as diabetes education and smoking cessation programs.

"The Strong Ties model demonstrates that clinical pharmacy can be successfully introduced to ambulatory clinics in health care systems," O'Brien said. "It provides a template for the introduction of a clinical pharmacy practice that improves client outcomes, adds revenue to the health care system and enhances the profile of clinical pharmacy in the community."

The novel pharmacy program has previously been cited with an Outstanding Service Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and East House Corporation's Quality Award.

United Way Funding Enriches Medical Center/Strong Health Programs

United Way - We Take Care of Our OwnWhen individuals donate to the United Way campaign, they are supporting organizations that help those less fortunate in our community. But what many in the Medical Center may not realize is that our United Way donations actually find their way back here, helping to fund Medical Center and Strong Health community outreach programs.

In 2003, the University as a whole donated more than $900,000 to the United Way. In turn, various Medical Center and Strong Health programs received over $1.3 million from the 2003 United Way campaign, including:

  • Mount Hope Family Center (Therapeutic Services, At-Risk School Age Programs)
  • Children’s Institute (Primary Mental Health Early Intervention Programs, Rochester Early Childhood Assessment Partnership)
  • Strong Memorial Hospital (Baby Love, Strong Start)
  • Visiting Nurse Service (Meals on Wheels, Day Care Nursing Consultation)

And now, contributions to the United Way count more than ever in light of the recent Monroe County budget cuts. For example, Baby Love, which last year helped more than 300 high-risk women get through pregnancy without having a premature baby, has lost half of its 2003-04 operating budget. And Strong Start, which works to improve the academic and social skills of young children at risk of school failure, relies entirely on United Way funding for its services.

These two programs are examples of the more than 500 organizations that receive allocations from the United Way each year, serving over 825,000 people throughout the Rochester area. Please remember programs like Baby Love and Strong Start when you are asked to give.

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Last updated: 06/23/2009 10:03 PM