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What is your main goal in Ambulatory?
To provide the very best experience to patients who come here to
see our providers. That encompasses customer service as well as
being respectful and inclusive of our referring physicians.
Children’s provides some of the best
healthcare available. Why is customer service important?
People won’t come here just because we have some of the world’s
best doctors and nurses. I have four adopted children and three
of them have special needs, so I know that healthcare is not just
about whether the nurse was caring and the doctor was technically
proficient. If a parent can’t get through on the phone, or get an
appointment for six months, or if someone was rude to them, that’s
all part of the experience and the impression that they’re going
to leave here with. Learning from our inpatient colleagues, we know
family-centered care actually improves outcomes. It’s not just window-dressing.
I am passionate about making our customer service every bit as world-class
as our patient care, and that means ensuring that our caring is
evident and pervasive from the very first interaction.
What does customer service encompass?
Our first customer service focus is to make each patient/family
experience as good as it can be. Many people think that customer
service training is just “smile training.” It’s much more than that.
Imagine you’re a mom with a sick child. You’ve been stuck on Longwood
in traffic and are now a half hour late for the appointment, so
you’re worried you won’t be able to see the doctor, and you’re frightened
about what the doctor might tell you. You’re trailing two other
kids and pushing a stroller, and you can’t remember if you’re supposed
to turn left, right, or upside down. So customer service is teaching
people to appreciate what a stressful experience it is to bring
your child to a hospital, and to notice when somebody’s lost and
take them where they need to go—to focus on the family’s whole experience
Our second focus is working closely with our referring physicians
to make sure they aren’t left out of the care team. They are vital,
but we haven’t always treated them that way. We’re very fortunate
that they keep sending their patients here, so we’re doing a lot
to tell referring physicians that we value their time, our relationship
with them, their medical perspective, and that we see this as a
collaborative care arrangement. We’re trying to make it easier for
them to refer patients, get information, and link to educational
and clinical conferences. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but
we’re moving in the right direction.
|“ I am passionate about making our customer
service every bit as world-class as our patient care, and that
means ensuring that our caring is evident and pervasive from
the very first interaction.”
What is the most important initiative
The Ambulatory leadership team has worked really hard to develop
business, front end, and customer service standards and scorecards
that help us measure how well we are delivering on our commitments.
The leadership team has worked tirelessly to help its staff build
the skills they need so we all perform at a consistently high level.
Staff and managers help each other, but also compete with each other
to see which teams can do the best on our various scorecards. I
believe that if you give people data about their performance and
show them how it compares to other departments, they will want to
What is the biggest challenge you
We’ve made many changes and have had a demonstrable impact on customer
service, but we still have an access problem.
Part and parcel of having the world’s best clinicians and services
is that they are in very high demand, and in some of our specialties,
we just can’t keep up. For instance, Neurology has added pediatric
neurologists and increased its visit volume eight percent in each
of the past two years, but the wait time to see a neurologist can
still be as long as nine months. If you have a child who has just
been diagnosed with ADHD, you’re panicked and want the very best
help available. Is ADHD life-threatening? No. But it sure feels
like a pretty big family tragedy, and nine months to see a doctor
seems like forever. In Neurology and many other services we’re trying
to add providers as fast as we can, but some are in short supply,
so the demand will continue to outstrip us.
Another access challenge for us is caring for patients who have
multi-faceted problems. For these patients, who need to see a number
of different providers, we try to coordinate the visits the child
needs so they come in once to see all of their specialists.
How can we accommodate the growth
of the Ambulatory programs?
We are trying to increase our presence in satellite locations so
patients can access all the physicians they see here, but closer
to home. Our current satellite locations have been wildly popular,
so we plan to add a couple new satellites to better serve families
in Eastern Massachusetts. We also need to move some of our Ambulatory
services away from the Longwood Medical area. Perpetually congested
traffic, a shortage of parking, and a severe shortage of space have
led us to explore an additional Ambulatory campus, probably in Brookline
or Chestnut Hill.
What do you like about working here?
We have such a wonderful mission taking care of children. It grabbed
me 25 years ago when I was a nurse here in the NICU and continues
to have a strong grip on me. I see all these sweet, hurting, trusting
little faces and can’t imagine that working anywhere else could
ever be as meaningful.