UCI MEDICAL CENTER: Doubles Staff Bonuses to Improve Patient Satisfaction
The University of California-Irvine Medical Center, previously ranked one of the worst hospitals in the nation in terms of patient satisfaction, "has begun a program to improve that ranking in the increasingly competitive health care market," the Orange County Register reports. UCI began soliciting patient feedback last weekend via a direct-mail customer satisfaction survey. If enough patients praise the service they received, administrators in June will double employees' bonuses, increasing the maximum from $1,200 to $2,400. The hospital also will provide "excellence awards" of $100 to $1,000 to five employees per month. Administrators analyzed the results of the hospital's poor patient satisfaction showing in a 1997 survey and found that the problem was not one of medical treatment, "but the things hospital staff thought of as the little extras" of service. CEO Mark Laret said the initiative may cost the hospital "several million dollars," but "UCI has to change its culture if it wants to survive in the 21st century marketplace" (Kowalczyk, 2/14). The AP/Sacramento Bee reports that the "change comes amid a national push for doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to be more responsive to customers' needs."
Moment of Truth
Laret said his goal is to be in the top 10% of a new national survey begun Friday, with results expected in April (2/15). Mary Owen, the center's director of performance and risk management, noted that internal surveys already show satisfaction rates of 81% for outpatient services and 88% for inpatient (Orange County Register, 2/14).