Avatar International Inc., a research and consulting company based in Orlando, Fla., has presented Memorial Hospital with an “Exceeding Patient Expectations” award for excellent customer service.

The recognition was based on surveys completed by Memorial patients. In addition to research and consulting, Avatar set standards to measure hospital quality-of-ser-vice issues, including patient satisfaction.

Memorial adopted those standards several years ago, said Hospital Quality Specialist Debi O’Connor.

“Memorial’s ultimate goal is to achieve a 100 percent patient-approval rating, and this award reflects the exceptional efforts of our physicians, nurses, staff and volunteers,” she said.

Achieving high customer-approval ratings is a formidable task in an era where health care is as unpredictable as Colorado’s weather. With skyrocketing costs and limited access for many, patient trust in the system is waning.

The good news is that people have more choices about where they receive their care, said Cynthia May, Memorial’s chief nursing officer.

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Increasing consumer options creates competition among providers, and Memorial Hospital is trying to stay ahead of the game by establishing what May refers to as a “service-oriented culture.”

“We start with the employee interview process,” she said. “We tell them we have an expectation they will smile, for example. We provide ongoing training and education. We have high expectations of the staff.”

A culture of service at Memorial includes amenities,such as earplugs for people in semi-private rooms; personal pet visitation; complementary therapies, such as pet and aroma therapy; accommodating special food requests; hospitality carts for visitors; a 900-member volunteer force and 24/7 visitation.

Sometimes the need is about recognizing diversity in the community.

“A Native American died in our emergency room, and their belief system states that no one must leave the person alone, so we accommodated them and made sure someone was there at all times,” May said.

But all the volunteer clowns in the world or extras like valet parking don’t mean beans if medical treatment is inadequate or billing questions aren’t answered. And if there are issues, May said Memorial’s “service recovery” program quickly identifies problems, attempting to resolve them while the patient remains hospitalized.

Meeting patients’ expectations is important in determining their experiences, according to an Avatar news release.

“Hospitals must pause if they are merely monitoring patient satisfaction,” said Dr. Michael Everett, Avatar CEO. “Satisfaction scores do not provide a benchmark into the minds of your patients. Not until satisfaction scores are compared to your patients’ expectations can you say ‘We are meeting and exceeding the expectations of patients.'”

Colorado doctor wins ‘Medical Director of the Year’

Team Health, a clinical outsourcing organization, named Dr. Carey Pelto, the medical director of the emergency department at St. Thomas More Hospital in CaÑon City, the medical director of the year for Team Health West.

St. Thomas More Hospital’s emergency department has an annual patient volume of 17,000. Located in the remote front range of the Colorado Rockies, it is the only hospital for Fremont County, and it is also unique in that there are 13 correctional facilities within 10 miles.

Pelto joined St. Thomas More Hospital as the Team Health West medical director in 2003. He previously served as the medical director of Centura Health’s Langstaff-Brown facility in Woodland Park.

Pelto volunteered with law enforcement agencies in establishing a regional emergency response team for the southern Front Range area. He also worked with the Central Mountain Training Foundation to assist in mass casualty and disaster planning.

He received an undergraduate degree from The College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, and a graduate medical degree from Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus. Pelto is board certified in emergency medicine.

AMR advances patient reporting technology

American Medical Response Inc., the nation’s largest provider of medical transportation, funded, developed and built an electronic patient care reporting system because there was no software on the market that met the company’s needs.

The technology speeds and improves pre-hospital patient care reports, standardizes the reporting process and increases billing efficiencies.

AMR technicians and paramedics transfer patient information to laptop computers before they reach the scene of an emergency. During the call, the paramedics input patient information via check lists that are compiled in a report, which is then available to emergency room staff when the patient is admitted.

According to a news release, William Tara, AMR chief information officer, said the “EPCR solution has the potential to transform our business by providing real-time information to our patients, healthcare professionals and hospital providers.”

Marylou Doehrman covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.