Saint Barnabas Management Services (SBMS) has operated an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for 18 years. To be awarded both regional and national contracts, they needed to establish both a vast provider network and a set of quality standards that could be guaranteed to participating members, regardless of location.
“Customers like Schering-Plough and the foundations on Wall Street demand the highest quality for their employees,” says Joe Ferrera, Chief Operating Officer of SBMS. “They want assurance that we know these providers and monitor them closely.”
Therefore, Saint Barnabas implemented a comprehensive tool to evaluate providers and the physical locations in which they deliver care. This assessment tool has been in place for the past five years.
In 2003, Saint Barnabas brought their physician referral and appointment services in house, developing a call center that now serves their nine-hospital network, spanning most of New Jersey. It is no surprise that they are applying this same standards-based approach to their physician referral network. Much work goes into maintaining and furthering their health system’s reputation of quality, extending to the physicians practicing there.
How do the physicians like being evaluated? “There were some issues at first. It was new; they weren’t used to it. But what they love is the feedback!” says Ferrara with a smile. Doctors are hungry for information on what is done at other offices such as the magazines, seating, or lighting and what patients say they like.
Saint Barnabas performs patient satisfaction calls after each new referral and appointment. The reports are given to the evaluation staff who share the details with the physicians. Therefore, the evaluation process becomes an exchange of information. Ferrera adds, “It’s not disciplining; it’s really a tool for education and marketing. That’s what it’s all about. And in turn, it helps Saint Barnabas sell the quality of their doctors.”
Customers feel more comfortable knowing what to expect at a when they visit a Saint Barnabas physician. This helps the call center convert an inquiry into a kept appointment. In addition, patient feedback is heeded. Listening and acting on what they learn helps the physicians of Saint Barnabas stand out from all the others.
[From the Spring 2004 issue of AnswerStat magazine]