Reduced employee turnover and increased patient satisfaction have been key indicators of the success of Lexington Medical Center's campaign to create and sustain a culture of service excellence.
Turnover at the 292-bed facility in West Columbia, S.C., has fallen from 20% to 13% during the past three years, including a drop from 14.5% to 11% among registered nurses, while patient satisfaction on the national Press Ganey survey has risen from the 64th percentile to the 98th percentile. For the culture change that spurred these results, Lexington has earned an honorable mention in the Spirit of Excellence Award for Service.
To make it all happen, the center created a Patient Satisfaction Steering Committee that devised a five-point set of "Service Expectations" indicators for employees: atmosphere and environment; appearance; respect and appreciation; communication; and confidentiality and privacy. "The goal was to establish expectations for
every employee on how we treat our customers," says Tod Augsburger, chief operating officer.
Lexington tracks patients' comments, concerns and complaints through a systematic feedback loop and has added guest-services specialists at night and on the weekends. The hospital recognizes employees who provide excellent care in myriad ways, ranging from monthly luncheons and "hero awards" to annual bonuses, which were $350 apiece in 2003.
When patients don't receive the best care, employees are empowered through the "Service Recovery Program" to "give a sincere apology, inform the patient of what we're doing to fix it and thank them for complaining," Augsburger says, which they underscore by purchasing an item of the patient's choice from the hospital's gift shop.