As the clock winds down on 1998, it's appropriate to reflect on how your organization performed over the past year. As you recount the achievements and shortcomings, please consider the challenge MODERN HEALTHCARE issued at the beginning of the year.
In a Jan. 5 editorial headlined "It's Time to Refocus on Job One," we asked that every new idea floated, every mission statement adopted and every new program implemented be structured around the improvement of patient care and customer service.
Value and accountability are destined to separate the winners from the losers in healthcare. But it will be difficult to achieve excellence in patient-focused care unless every person in the organization-from the renowned surgeon to the clerk in the business office-commits to the strategy.
Although many healthcare chief executive officers extol the virtues of their customer-focused organizations, we still hear of far too many cases in which patients felt ignored or mistreated. Billing snafus, difficulty in scheduling appointments, long waiting times and impersonal service are problems that require constant attention.
So what did you accomplish in 1998, and what are your customer-focused strategies for 1999? Will your efforts be enough to overcome the prevailing public perception that healthcare providers have created a system that is impossible to navigate and that they care more about profits than patients?
These are the questions that every healthcare manager should answer.
The goal for all providers is to enhance medical outcomes, patient service and operational efficiency at an affordable cost. Quality guru Donald Berwick of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement recommends that providers focus on defect reduction, patient safety, customer service and waste reduction. But the problem, as Berwick sees it, is that there is no model organization that incorporates all the best-known practices in these areas.
MODERN HEALTHCARE intends to identify the ones pushing the hardest to cross the finish line first.