Customers first

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Lisa Fratt, Editor of Health Imaging

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning,” according to Bill Gates . The business magnate makes a challenging, and astutely accurate, observation. Imaging stakeholders would do well to heed Gates.

In fact, Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City embraced that tactic in its recent strategic plan, which key players described during the annual AHRA meeting in mid-August in Dallas.

The healthcare behemoth surveyed more than 500 customers as it developed its strategic plan. Intermountain employed an expansive definition of the term and queried referring physicians, patients, technologists, payors and more as it sought to refine its organization.

“We learned there is room for improvement at even the most decorated organizations,” quipped Deanna Welch, system director of imaging services at Intermountain. The organization leveraged the mountains of data to drive improvement across the enterprise.

Health Imaging also is tackling the topic, considering the rise of patient-centric radiology and best practices and process improvement in our upcoming October and November issues.

It’s clear that customer service and satisfaction are not the sole province of any one provider or system. However, one system provides an awesome repository of data to analyze as organizations focus their customer service programs.

The RIS is a veritable treasure trove of customer service data, and can be used to help organizations assess key parameters such as patient wait times, referral patterns and much more. The key is selecting a few measurable metrics relevant to the organization, analyzing problem areas, engaging stakeholders to develop improved processes, implementing those processes and measuring results.

It is much easier said than done. However, the process is essential to business success. Radiology providers that fail to realize the utmost relevance of patients, payors and referrers will likely fall by the wayside. That’s because a constellation of factors?emerging payment models, competitive forces, consumer trends?support, and perhaps, demand superior service.

How are you learning from your customers to drive improvement? Please let us know.

Lisa Fratt, editor