Medical City Dallas Hospital: From Good to Exceptional

Medical City Dallas Hospital is a 660-bed tertiary referral center for the HCA North Texas Division. Medical City employs 2100 people and has 1100 physicians on staff. It is a recipient of the Magnet Certification for the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center and has been selected by the Dallas Business Journal as the “Best Place to Work” in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and as one of the “Top Fifty Best Places to Work” in the State of Texas by Texas Monthly. The hospital is also the recipient of the “Texas Award for Performance Excellence,” the most prestigious state award for operational excellence.

In line with Medical City’s continuous drive for excellence, the hospital set a goal to achieve exceptional customer service, and chose mystery shopping to help it get there. Management believed that they were already delivering good service, but “good” was not sufficient. With this in mind, the hospital engaged Devon Hill Associates, a nationally known provider of hospital mystery shopping services, to conduct its mystery shopping project.

The results from the first wave of mystery shopping calls and visits to non-clinical departments were a catalyst for change within the hospital. As a result of Devon’s detailed report of findings, the CEO and Director of Guest Relations identified four priorities for action in the following areas, and resources were committed to make the changes:

  • Admitting
  • PBX (outsourced operators)
  • Greetings
  • “Way-finding”

In order to implement the changes, highlights of Devon’s report were presented to the leadership group at one of their monthly meetings, and four committees were formed to address the four priorities. Applicable parts of the report were forwarded to all of the department managers mentioned in the report, and each manager was asked to create an action plan for change. A few of these departments held focus groups conducted by stakeholders from other departments. These stakeholders were both leaders and participants in the groups along with members of the departments themselves (e.g. The Radiology Manager conducted the Admitting Department focus group.)

Within four months of the first wave of calls and visits, a number of significant changes and improvements were made in response to the mystery shopping feedback, and others were in the works. For example:

  • A receptionist/concierge for Admitting was hired to receive patients, put them in queue, respond to questions, and make patients more comfortable with delays.
  • The number of staff in Admitting was increased, and processing time began to be regularly monitored.
  • Plans were made for a structured customer service program for the entire Admitting staff led by an outside consultant, including a “train the trainer” segment for the leadership group.
  • New, larger quarters were leased for the (outsourced) PBX operators so that technological improvements could be installed and additional staff could be hired.
  • Going forward, PBX operators were to be included in hospital training, orientation updates, and all employee communication.
  • Greetings were being scripted to provide consistency.
  • Plans were made to move the volunteer/reception desk to a more visible location and to improve signage to help patients and visitors find their way.
  • Guest Relations staff became more connected and systematized in handling inquiries. Cell phones and the use of Blackberry devices, pagers, and internal text messaging were being explored. The department hoped to add a staff member to answer the phones.
  • Guest Relations began researching a patient satisfaction hotline.

As a result of the report, the hospital was able to pinpoint exactly what changes were necessary to work toward its goal of exceptional customer service. According to the Director of Guest Relations, “The hospital had high expectations for the report, and Devon Hill Associates delivered.”

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Devon Hill Associates is a mystery shopping, marketing and sales training company that focuses on the healthcare and long-term care industries. We specialize in mystery shopping for hospitals, HMOs, clinics, nursing homes, assisted living and retirement communities nationwide. Devon Hill Associates is located in La Jolla, California. For information on mystery shopping and other services, call 1-858-456-7800.

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