Tell Me Now: A focus on Customer Service
Part 2



Last week this column outlined how Granville Health System’s “Tell Me Now” customer service campaign has called our community to action. I talked about how our employees have been challenged to reach out to patients and their families, asking them how we can meet and exceed their expectations during a stay at their community hospital. Likewise, we’re asking the community to share their thoughts and expectations on how we can best serve them.

We discussed how the “Tell Me Now” initiative is the right thing to do – we want to be a good community partner in offering excellent customer service while delivering quality care. We also spoke about the changing environment in health care and what Granville Health System must accomplish in the coming years to succeed in our industry’s new delivery of care model.

As part of the Affordable Care Act, the federal government is taking strides to strengthen the way health care is delivered. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is now reimbursing hospitals in part for the level of quality care and customer service they provide to their community. The level of reimbursement is based on patient satisfaction scores.

When a patient is discharged from Granville Medical Center after an inpatient stay, they may receive a telephone call to ask about their experience. The survey process is a CMS requirement and answers received through the survey are the basis for our patient satisfaction scores, and ultimately reflect the level of reimbursement the hospital receives for the services we provide. CMS developed the questions and each one is asked in a very prescribed manner, posed exactly the same to each survey participant. It’s a long survey; there are 27 questions. But the question I want to focus on today is about a patient’s overall satisfaction. The question reads, “Using any number from 0 to 10, where 0 is the worst hospital experience possible and 10 is the best hospital experience possible, what number would you use to rate this hospital during your stay?” Of course, our staff would like to receive a 10 every time.

I’m going to be honest with you. I’ve always been an “8” kind of guy. As a consumer, when I’m pleased with an experience, I typically give a score of 8. Giving an 8 means that I really liked a product or a service, right? I don’t usually give a 9 or a 10 because that would leave no room for improvement.

Here’s the rub, according to the government’s scoring system, any score for a hospital stay that is lower than a 9 is the same thing as a 0. Simply stated, the measurement of service and the reimbursement rate is the same for a 0 as for an 8. You may ask, “why does this matter?” This matters because if you rated your stay as an 8, thinking that score reflected a good stay in the hospital with great customer service and quality care, you’d actually be giving the hospital a score that equaled a 0, equating us with a facility that provided substandard service. In addition, the hospital would be reimbursed for that care at the same rate as a 0 rating.

I would like underscore that reimbursement rates matter greatly to hospitals. Decisions made in Washington and Raleigh has had real and immediate financial repercussions to all North Carolina hospitals, including Granville Health System. Cuts to reimbursements for service and the state’s decision not to expand Medicaid for the uninsured have challenged how we traditionally deliver care here in the community. In this health care environment, hospitals continue to be tasked to do more with less. GHS has accepted this challenge and through the “Tell Me Now” campaign will continue to seek important feedback from you, the community we serve.

Here’s how you can help. “Tell Me Now” gives you a voice. It allows our patients to partner with their community hospital in meeting the challenges of the Affordable Care Act. “Tell Me Now” provides our patients the opportunity to let us know when they need a blanket, to tell us about their pain or request a drink. “Tell Me Now” sets the stage for your overall satisfaction as a patient of Granville Health System. With the support of your partnership and honest feedback GHS will reach its goal.

To be sure, the goal of the campaign is not get a 10 from you on a telephone survey; it’s about EARNING your 100% satisfaction. GHS and our Board of trustees remain committed to earning your complete satisfaction because you deserve it. Your family and friends deserve it. Granville County deserves it.

In my next column, we’ll discuss how Granville Health System is creating a culture of customer service. In the meantime, please contact me with your thoughts and ideas on customer service and how we can earn a 10 during your next visit. Please contact me by email at TellMeNow@granvillemedical.com or visit ghsHospital.org/TellMeNow for more information.