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Patient Experience Case Study - Meridian Health
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Developing the Case for Concierge Care:

A Strategic Tool in Improving the Patient Experience

Meridian Health

What was the challenge, opportunity or issue you were addressing?

Addressing the new healthcare consumer market by extending the personal care experience

In recognizing the emergence of the consumer-driven healthcare marketplace, Meridian Health began to ask a critical question: what would be a new and creative way to engage their customer – the patients, families and communities they serve – and how could they ensure an increasingly positive experience in their facilities?

Meridian has a track record of exploring and developing innovative ways to deliver on its brand promise with the clear intention to provide the best health care experience. In this case the response was no different. After extensive consideration they determined a key element of their effort should be to implement Concierge Care.

In December of 2009, Concierge Care launched as a pilot program at Ocean Medical Center (pictured right) and Riverview Medical Center. Now, more than a year and a half into the program, Concierge Care is also in place at Jersey Shore University Medical Center and K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital. They are seeing tremendous success at all four hospital sites.

When asked what sparked this effort, Tria Deibert, Director of Marketing explained, "We listened to our consumers.” She added, "Today's consumer is accustomed to shaping their brand experiences. We live in a ‘Have it Your Way’ consumer culture, but that hasn't always been the case at hospitals. As consumers become patients, they have typically relinquished their ability to customize their brand experience, but we can change this. Concierge Care gives our patients and guests the ability to shape their hospital experience." As you can see from the initial outcomes, it has had an extremely positive impact for all involved.

What did you do to address it?

Extensive research and planning leading to the strategic implementation of Concierge Care

Prior to launching Concierge Care, a planning team was formed to thoroughly research and consider the concept. The team looked at proven practice examples and various potential models. They also conducted market tests on the idea. The response: overwhelming receptivity across all Meridian hospital markets.

The research team also evaluated the guest relations and service delivery landscape at each hospital. Based on consumer research, industry research, and their own internal audit, the team recommended the development of Concierge Care. A pilot approach was recommended to test the implementation plan and begin to measure the impact of this effort.

Implementing Concierge Care led to a complete redesign of guest relations. It included establishing an external vendor partnership with Circles, a Concierge Services Provider. The research team felt these two recommendations would provide the appropriate structure and support for implementing a new approach to service delivery and the significant culture shift that it would require.

The executive team approved the program and Riverview Medical Center (RMC, pictured left) and Ocean Medical Center (OMC) were selected as the initial pilot sites. There was an understanding that if successful, the program would launch at other Meridian Health sites at a later date, allowing time for the program to be polished as needed (and ensuring the system was ready and the appropriate culture and support services were in place).

During the development phase a multi-disciplinary team, comprised of content experts from both RMC and OMC, focused on building a clinically safe and operationally superior service experience. Careful attention was paid to creating a replicable process to ensure the pilot would operate in a similar manner at both sites. This allowed the program to be measured effectively and consistently.

Both sites engaged in a process to evaluate and redesign their guest relations teams. The launch included a focus on training and development. The Organizational Effectiveness Department took the lead in training new Guest Relations Representatives and the vendor, Circles, provided extensive training for the Concierge team. The Concierge team also cross-trained to understand the Meridian Health culture and brand promise to "Deliver the Best Health Care Experience.”

The Concierge Care program determined a core set of program objectives, including:

  • Differentiate the Meridian Health Brand
  • Provide an Experience to Match the Brand Promise
  • Deliver an Experience that Matches Other Consumer Experiences
  • Create a Cultural Shift of Service Excellence
  • Influence Patient Satisfaction Scores
  • Reduce Patient Complaints
  • Drive Volume by Creating Loyal Customers

According to Deibert, the partnership with Circles provided valuable outside support for the effort. Their primary responsibility was to supply, train, and manage the Concierge team. They brought a number of supporting resources to the process including managing vendor relationships, implementing a CRM system to track requests and utilization, providing the necessary metrics and reporting and even support in developing marketing materials. Outside of their direct management role, Circles was a partner with the Meridian Health team in identifying and developing additional growth opportunities for the service.

The program launch and promotion was a collaborative effort between the Meridian and Circles team. Key steps included:

  • Training for both the guest relations and the Concierge team. This included key scripting messages developed for use by the Guest Relations Representatives
  • Internal communications launched to engage staff across the hospitals including addressing the new program at team huddles, carrying the message out via a road show across all shifts, and integrating the message in leadership presentations and team member forums.
  • Brand development by Meridian Health with the support of Circle in creating key materials such as rack cards and a menu of services offered.
  • Marketing the program to users. This took place through multiple media including web promotion, which was key for individuals researching their stay, unique signage in high traffic areas and then internal marketing efforts such as pillow wraps, elevator door signage and even notes included on all food trays that share the commitment to the guest experience signed by team members.

While the program launch was critical, the messaging and outreach for Concierge Care has continued to ensure new patients and family members are aware of this important service. Some of these efforts are internal to the team ensuring staff is aware of the program and can provide input and feedback on its future direction. Many of the efforts are designed for the patient and family themselves. They include such things as a complimentary spa day to help raise awareness, niche marketing to various units or service lines and structured efforts to get feedback from not only existing patients on the services provided, but also prospective patients and the community on what they would like to see. Numerous other strategies and tactics are in place at each facility to drive the use of the Concierge Care program.

What outcomes were achieved?

Higher than expected usage and positive HCAHPS and patient satisfaction outcomes

In the first year of the program, almost 15,000 service requests were received at the two pilot facilities. These numbers exceeded the utilization at all the organizations Meridian Health benchmarked in their initial research. Satisfaction with the service is also consistently ranked high, scoring a 4.94 on a 5-point scale at both pilot sites.

Patient satisfaction metrics showed positive results including improved scores in overall satisfaction, willingness to recommend and staff responsiveness. In aggregate the scores at both pilot facilities increased by two percentage points. In addition, initial HCAHPS score reviews have shown that those receiving Concierge Care also provide higher HCAHPS scores than non-users across all domains.

As the program has moved into year two, it has received well over 18,000 service requests and tracking for over 36,000 in 2011 to date. Overall satisfaction with the service continues to remain high with a score of 4.95 out of 5.0 across all sites. Even more telling on the traction of the program is that the question would you refer a friend scores a 9.91 out of 10. Comments continue to pour in from patients and families on the impact of this service and feedback continues to be exceptional. Some comments include:

  • I think that administration should be commended- customer care and satisfaction is vastly improved and I love the concierge service!!
  • I'm so happy I was able to get my mom a mani/pedi. It made her feel so good. Thanks to the staff for all that you do.

With the success of the program in both pilot sites and the two facilities added in late 2010, Meridian Health is currently evaluating the addition of Concierge Care at their two newest hospitals Bayshore Community Hospital and Southern Ocean Medical Center.

About Meridian Health

Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization in New Jersey, comprising of Jersey Shore University Medical Center and K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital in Neptune, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel, and Meridian Partner Companies that include home health services, skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers, ambulatory care, ambulance services, and outpatient centers.

Meridian Health has consistently been rated among the top performing health systems in New Jersey for clinical quality, is one of the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For", and is the recipient of numerous state and national recognitions for patient care and nursing excellence, including the distinction of being the first health system in the country to receive Magnet designation for nursing.

For more information on the Concierge Care Program at Meridian Health, please contact:

Tria Deibert

Director of Marketing

Meridian Health

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