Wright-Patterson Medical Center tops in patient satisfaction|
Posted 9/12/2012 Updated 9/12/2012
by Amy Rollins
9/12/2012 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio -- The Wright-Patterson Medical Center has been named No. 1 in patient satisfaction in the entire Air Force.
Col. Stephen Higgins, commander, Wright-Patterson Medical Center, said he was informed of the top rating during the week of Aug. 13.
"It's something that we constantly monitor, and we were informed by the Air Force Medical Operations Agency that we had reached No. 1 in the Air Force on a variety of things when you wrap together the inpatient and the outpatient measurements," he said. "We're pretty excited about that and shared that with the wing commander."
"That's why we're all smiling," said patient advocate Cindy Andersen. "It's a compilation of our scores from our inpatient and our outpatient satisfaction, where our patients score us on specifi c questions."
Outpatient scores are gathered weekly; each outpatient is contacted by phone shortly after being discharged. The survey is anonymous and random; the patients can say anything they care to, Ms. Andersen said.
"The information from these reports is very important to us," Colonel Higgins said. "Ms. Andersen is part of our executive team; she comes to our Monday meetings and gives us the feedback. We talk about the 'good stuff,' but we also look for opportunities to improve. Hearing from the patients gives us the opportunity to do that."
Colonel Higgins attributes the top rating to the medical center's "incredible staff who really care about what they're doing. From the executive perspective, in the hospital we realize that patient satisfaction is really an indicator of the quality of health care in that organization, and it's important to us to ask our patients how we're doing for a couple of reasons: One reason is it shows us where we can do better to improve the health of our patients and to make their care experience better, help them achieve better health, and it sends a really strong message to them that we want to get better, that we care about improving the services that we offer to them."
Ms. Andersen said she thinks the survey process and studying its results "sets the tone that we treat our patients as if they are our own family. We're a very family-focused organization as well with our patients. They're not just patients coming in for health care; we try to treat them as members of our family and our extended family of the Air Force."
Health care surveys measuring timeliness, accessibility, efficiency, effectiveness and being patient-focused are important, Colonel Higgins said. "That all helps us know where we're at. We do really care. Sure, this is a health-care benefit that they're provided. We want to make sure we're giving them the absolute best that we can."
Lisa Myers, civilian nurse manager and lead patient advocate in the Family Health Clinic, said she attributes the top rating to "really hard work" on the part of the two active-duty personnel and one civilian working there. "We really work together as a team to take care of the concerns that are voiced in the feedback from our patients on a daily basis."
Many of the concerns are handled within the clinic, without needing to go further along to the patient advocate office. Those that do receive Ms. Andersen's attention are worked through as quickly as possible. Clear communication and responsiveness are key, Ms. Myers said.
Master Sgt. Charise Charris, flight chief of bioenvironmental engineering, experienced the hospital's level of care when her 18-year-old son was admitted in early August with severe pain.
"They took excellent care of him," Sergeant Charris said. "The quality of care was just amazing."
Her son ultimately required surgery and a weeklong stay.
"I knew coming here that this was a quality facility -- I have served under Colonel Higgins' leadership before -- however, coming here and experiencing it from the patient care side, being the recipient of that with respect to my family members, it just blew me away," Sergeant Charris said.
While her son is an adult and information about his condition was kept within the restrictions of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) rules, Sergeant Charris and her husband were always given the opportunity to ask questions, she said.
"They made sure that we knew as parents that they were just as invested in how we were doing as they were how our son was doing," she said.
Particularly impressive to her was the pharmacist coming to her son's bedside to explain his medications to him. Upon discharge, he was able to go straight home.
"You don't see that everywhere. I was very impressed," she said.
"If I had to have a family member who was sick, there's no place I'd rather be seen than Wright-Patt," she finished.
Maj. (Dr.) Doug Byerly, staff radiologist and patient advocate for radiology, said he previously came from Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland AFB and finds it easier for himself and his family to be seen at Wright-Patt Medical Center, with details attended to and improved accessibility.
"That's coming from Wilford Hall, which is supposed to be the flagship of Air Force medical care. It's amazing the difference in the level of care we get here," he said.
He doesn't often interact directly with patients, but encourages those who do to realize that almost every patient coming to the medical center is going to get some sort of imaging study.
"It's very important the way they interact with the patients because that's the way we're going to be perceived as a department," Dr. Byerly said. "When we get positive feedback like this, it makes me proud of all the Airmen who work for me. They've taken that to heart and incorporated that into how they interact with the patient."
It's definitely a total force effort to meet the needs of patients, Colonel Higgins said. "Our goal is 100 percent (patient satisfaction)."
Ms. Andersen said the organization is constantly listening to what patients are saying. "If something isn't working the way that it should be, come in and tell us. We can't do something that we don't know anything about. Also, if you haven't used our services in a long time because you might have had an experience before that wasn't what you expected, give us another try. Come back and let us try to fix it for you."
She also offered that the medical center may not have exactly what the patient desires but that there are always options to explore.
Sergeant Charris said, "Conversely, it's just as important when something good happens they bring that feedback as well so that we know what to keep up."