An improved emergency department, a drive-through window for patient records, a spoken menu, a transplant center that encourages patient-provider teamwork. Such improved, customer-focused programs were the theme of this year's Sodexho Marriott Service Excellence Awards.
Three of the four projects cost relatively little to implement, yet the organizations gained a lot by increasing patient satisfaction, boosting staff morale and even improving clinical outcomes or reducing costs. The fourth winner paved the way for empowered patients to participate in their treatment.
The winning projects "really went beyond traditional thinking," says Mary Sheahen, president and chief executive officer of Provena Mercy Center in Aurora, Ill., and one of the contest judges. "If you're going to make a difference, you have to give up all your old ways, go back to ground zero and build it back up based on customer needs. They weren't tweaking other things but were really changing how things work."
Seventy-one healthcare organizations entered the seventh annual contest sponsored by Sodexho Marriott Services, Avon, Conn., and MODERN HEALTHCARE. Winners were chosen in four categories based on creativity, innovation, evidence of impact and customer focus.
The patient-service category recognizes a service or initiative that improves customer satisfaction and the provider's responsiveness to patients' needs, preferences and expectations. Overlook Hospital in Summit, N.J., received the patient-service award for its Emergency Department Patient Satisfaction project, which dramatically cut wait times for several services.
The internal-service award acknowledges an initiative designed to improve interdepartmental or facility service, teamwork and performance. This year's winner is Latrobe (Pa.) Area Hospital, which organized a drive-through window service for patients to pick up and drop off their clinical records. The service improved efficiency in various departments, including clinical information, radiology and cardiology.
The values integration award honors a program that fosters a service culture. The program must reflect the organization's values and emphasize how those values enhance patient, employee or community relations. Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne, Ind., received this award for its "spoken menu" food service, which allows patients to order meals from hospitality staff on the same day the food is delivered instead of checking preferences on forms the night before.
The vision category honors an initiative that supports service integration, patient focus and provider collaboration. Nebraska Health System in Omaha received this award for the construction of the Lied Transplant Center and implementation of the cooperative-care concept, through which physicians and staff involve patients and their care partners in managing their illnesses.
Each winner receives $5,000, to be divided equally between the sponsoring organization and the project team members.