The strict lines that once separated back-of-the-house operations from patient-facing roles is a bit blurrier in today’s health care landscape. In our 2015 Salary Survey, 55 percent of respondents told us that their incentive compensations were tied to performance improvement metrics, such as patient satisfaction and quality of care. Mind you, that number comes from readers — such as environmental services (ES) managers and facility engineers — who aren't traditionally thought to have much of an effect on patient satisfaction or outcomes.

However, many health care systems today are adopting the motto that service doesn't begin and end only with doctors and nurses. Today, patient satisfaction is weaved into the fabric of every department.

Lloyd Duplechan, is a retired hospital chief operating officer and is owner and principal of the health care environmental consulting firm Duplechan & Associates. In a recent column, he explains that hospitals should aspire to the same level of customer satisfaction that the Ritz-Carlton achieves.

Northside Hospital–Atlanta, one of last year's Environmental Services Department of the Year winners, says it began a process four years ago that leverages data and builds partnerships to help improve patient satisfaction.

Michael Jackson, Northside's assistant director for environmental services, says the organization's commitment to patient-centered care required Northside's ES department to focus on positive patient interactions.

"In environmental services, we're not the revenue generators of the hospital, so we have to show administrators the value that we deliver," he says. "Yes, the hospital is clean, but the value we bring is the customer service piece. That's going to keep people coming to the hospital."

Kent Miller, MHA, CHESP, director of environmental services and sustainability at Mercy Health St. Mary's, in Grand Rapids, Mich., echoed Jackson's thinking in his column. He even took the concept a step further by saying that anyone who steps into a health facility should be thought of as a customer, not just patients.

"Environmental services is a patient-centered department," Miller says. "Everything we do affects a patient in one way or another. Customers are defined as all patients, visitors and colleagues of the organization, and the environmental services department can have a direct impact on patient satisfaction."


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