MAY 2011 MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
SUZETTE PARTRIDGE, MBA
Patient/Visitor Experience Director
Anderson Regional Medical Center
WHAT ARE YOUR KEY RESPONSIBILITIES?
Anderson Regional Medical Center has changed significantly over the past two years, so it’s nearly impossible to say what I do without explaining our journey. Ray Humphreys came aboard as CEO in May 2010. By October, he formed the Service Excellence department that directly reported to him, and I was tapped to be the Director. Encompassed in that department were the functions of:
Educating our Leadership Team, Executive Team and Nursing Staff about our Press Ganey patient satisfaction scores
Accessing reports (user access and site navigation)
Interpreting reports to determine problems or opportunities
Generating flash reports and different ways to communicate
Developing online action planning tools
Coordination of volunteer services – Recruiting, training, placing and scheduling a volunteer force of 40 active volunteers including recognition events
Management of the Complaint/Grievance process
Direct communication with the person/family that had a complaint
Initiating investigation of the reported situations with not only the front-line staff, but also their clinical directors and often their Vice President
Weekly reporting of all complaints to the Executive Committee through the Patient Grievance Committee. PGC members included the Privacy Officer, Risk Management, VP Nursing, VP Quality, and the Service Excellence Director
Coordination of Patient Representatives that service the ED, ICU and CCU units and the main entrance from the parking garage
Oversight of Switchboard personnel
With a 240-bed capacity, it was a tall order to fill, but we understood that direct top management awareness and involvement had to happen if we were to achieve our goal – To be the best hospital in Mississippi by 2015. With the identification of that goal at our strategic planning retreat, we added a few specific goals for the Service Excellence Department:
Develop and implement delivery processes for service recovery tools
Develop an employee incentive plan tied directly to improvement
Develop top leadership rounding schedules
Develop a training program for all front line staff with scripting and rounding accountability
Explore different options to effectively and efficiently manage the complaint process
Armed with our plan, we were set to climb that mountain! Then Anderson bought Riley Hospital in January 2011, increasing our capacity to 400 beds and adding several different service lines that we didn’t have before. Our personnel base increased by 400 to1,700 people practically overnight. So, where are we now with all the organizational changes that take place after an acquisition? If you thought when you read over my initial list "Hmmm, that sounds like a lot”, you are right! It was a laundry list of various responsibilities that involved huge coordination with many different departments and leadership team members. As part of our acquisition, we gained the valuable knowledge of a comprehensive service excellence program model and have reorganized the Patient Satisfaction piece under the VP of Nursing (Pam Tvarkunas, former CEO of Riley Hospital).
My role, as it stands now, is largely centered on the visitor experience and guest relations. We have combined our volunteer forces for the main hospital (now Anderson North) and the former Riley Hospital (now Anderson South) and have partnered with two volunteer organizations (RSVP sponsored by the United Way) and the American Cancer Society for training volunteers at Anderson Regional Cancer Center. I am constantly researching new ideas with the goal in mind of a comprehensive, wellness-centered experience. Developing the role of the patient representative to be more effective in helping families and support people to communicate with various departments is also a priority, as well as improving the cleanliness and comfort of our waiting and reception areas.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
Having undergone vast changes recently, I feel a real sense of accomplishment that we are learning everyday to work toward a common goal and communicate with each other about how we can all move forward together. We have learned to coordinate, to share information, and to recognize silos and find ways to get around them, all to improve and refine our practices toward better outcomes. Having only been in healthcare for a year, I came to the industry with a totally consumer-focused approach. Being able to poke your head up and question "Why are we doing it this way?” takes some courage, especially for the "new kid on the block”, but I feel like I have gained traction, especially since the Beryl Patient Experience Conference. It was an eye-opening experience for me to learn that a lot of the ideas I have are resonating with the remainder of the healthcare industry.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU ARE CURRENTLY FACING?
The challenges that I face are really no different than any other Patient Experience professional. We are all tasked with doing more with shrinking resources. I am challenged to find ways to connect with patients and visitors in ways that are meaningful to them. There are situations in healthcare settings that are inherently difficult, and finding ways to keep our staff inspired and engaged is challenging.
WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS OF THE FUTURE IN ADDRESSING PATIENT EXPERIENCE?
I think we are learning more and more lessons from other industries that will shape the future. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Mississippi and other insurers began programs years ago that encouraged wellness behaviors, and I see healthcare moving in that direction, also. Educating people about healthy practices and lifestyle choices, early intervention and monitoring versus episodes of care, makes a lot of sense. Using emerging technology will also shape how we interact with our patients. It’s an exciting time!
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN WHEN NOT FOCUSING ON THE PATIENT EXPERIENCE?
My family and I are a geeky bunch. We enjoy looking for and trying new gadgets. Our most recent discovery is Roku (Internet based TV shows and movies). We love it! We also love to travel and ride motorcycles. I love my family life with my three boys, two German Shepherds and Chihuahua.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO BECOME A MEMBER OF THE BERYL INSTITUTE?
The most attractive feature about The Beryl Institute is the culmination of "out-of-the-box” thinkers. The research-based information they provide gives me a basis for our change models; it helps to start the discussions that lead us to improvement. Also, I got so many ideas and contacts at the Patient Experience Conference. I have the iPhone app, and I am following discussions using the LinkedIn network. All of these tools are user friendly and make the sharing of ideas and experiences so much easier.