Methodist Hospital Union County Seeking to "Super Satisfy" Patients

October 2013
National Rural Health Resource Center (The Center)

Methodist Hospital Union County (MHUC), located in Morganfield, Kentucky, is a non-profit, 25-bed Critical Access Hospital. Services include general medical and surgical care for inpatient, outpatient, and emergency room patients, swing bed, family medicine, diabetes education, and fitness center.

Mary Guyot, principal, with Stroudwater Associates worked with MHUC in 2011 on an ED Operations Assessment Project. RHPI spoke with Patrick Donahue, CEO, and Belinda Burnette, ED Manager, in March of this year concerning the progress of this project.

Q: Why did you choose to focus on ED Operations Assessment for your RHPI project?

A: The intent was to improve the ED satisfaction survey outcome and utilize effective processes. We requested a Performance Improvement Assessment to improve quality and financial reimbursement.

Q: What is your hospital's current status with regard to implementing the recommendations made during this project?

A: Mary's recommendations for this project have been fully implemented. The hospital is now in the process of tweaking and fine-tuning.

Q: What were the expected outcomes of this project? Has your hospital been able to document any of these outcomes?

A: Five expected outcomes were identified during project development. These included the development of indicators for departmental utilization tracking and performance improvement measures, improved patient flow from registration through discharge, specific action plan to "super satisfy" the ED patients and family, documented input regarding ED facility plan for architect's consideration, and improved patient satisfaction as a result of better patient flow. "Our core measures have improved, critical lab reporting improved, PI's on cardiac markers are better, HCAHPS is better." They chose to post HCAHPS and core measure in public area for patients and staff to see. This allows for more transparency and accountability. MHUC ED is now performing 100% auditing of charges immediately so patient bills don't have to be corrected down the line and there is a quicker turnaround on billing. They have made some physical renovations but are in the planning stages for a new ER. In the meantime, improved signage for ED and outpatient unit has been posted to simplify way-finding for the patient. Mary's feedback and recommendations were also used to analyze the walk-in clinic.

Q: What are the expected next steps towards adopting your consultants' recommendations? Is there a sustainability plan?

A: There are plans for a new ER and they are exploring providing a clinic for large coal mine once walk-in clinic is up.

Q: Is there anything your hospital would do differently if you were able to repeat this experience?

A: We would allot for one more day to make sure we could absorb all the information from the consultant. She was a wealth of knowledge.

Q: Aside from the measureable outcomes, what has been the impact of this project on your community?

A: Less time is spent on rework of billing and there is better charge capture up front. There is much more transparency and awareness of the data. One very significant impact has been increased awareness across departments in the hospital about how they affect each other and has "awakened" them as part of a team. This new awareness has led to increased collaboration.

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