15. Department of The Best Start

First impressions matter.

our own system’s Department of The Best Start will be responsible for greeting and helping patients, families, and visitors when they walk into the lobby.

We borrow the job description from the blog of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CEO Paul Levy:  employees in the Department will “answer all kinds of questions, give directions, escort people to their appointments, and are otherwise exceptionally pleasant and helpful.”

Simple, right?  Not always.  Smiles and hellos are not always pervasive in a hospital.  But what better to help sooth a patient’s rattled nerves as they enter a hospital than a friendly, smiling face?

The distinction between a run-of-the-mill staffed hospital lobby desk and the Department of The Best Start is a move from a static office desk dedicated to answering questions by those who approach to a constantly mobile group of individuals dedicated to the patient experience by seeking out all who walk through the front door.

Innovative patient experiences is really what the Department of The Best Start is all about.  This group will always be on the lookout for ways to improve the patient/hospital interaction.  At BIDMC, they have interpreters in over 30 languages and have “a rotating box with instructions in several languages to help people who do not speak English get the help they need.”

The Department of The Best Start will be the dedicated Relationship Builders between those entering the hospital and our own system.  If patients start with an enjoyable beginning we know that there is a better chance their entire experience will be positive.  And it all depends on communication.

As Mr. Levy writes on his blog, “Good communication is not just a pleasantry in a hospital: It can be a matter of life and death.”

Principle #15: Beginnings matter.  A lot.  As we move to a competitive hospital world where patient satisfaction actually manifests into return visits/word of mouth marketing, how we build relationships with those who enter our organizations will become vitally important.  We’re just getting a head start.

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