Service Fanatics: A book review by Bob Morris

Service FanaticsService Fanatics: How to Build Superior Patient Experience the Cleveland Clinic Way
James Merlino, M.D.
McGraw-Hill (2014)

“One of the most important things done is to define why we’re here — for patients.” Toby Cosgrove

Note: Delos M. (“Toby”) Cosgrove, M.D., is the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic.

If possible, this book should be read in combination with Cosgrove’s book, The Cleveland Clinic Way: Lessons in Excellence from One of the World’s Leading Health Care Organizations, also published by McGraw-Hill. Both books examine with consummate skill the day-to-day operations of one of the world’s most renowned medical communities. James Merlino, M.D., is Chief Experience Officer and the term “experience” refers to everyone involved throughout the given enterprise. At all levels and in all areas, the healthcare providers and those who are responsible for support services are patient-driven. They do everything humanly possible to ensure that patients and their loved ones always receive superior experience. As Merlino explains, his book focuses on how to think about patient experience, “how to define it, and the factors we feel are critical to enhance it. Improving patient-centeredness also impacts how we deliver safety and quality. These are important not just for patients, but for caregivers as well.”

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, listed also to suggest the scope of Merlino’s coverage:

o Cleveland Clinic: Challenges of organizational culture (Pages 1-7, 33-34, 66-67, 98-103, 112-113, and 220-221)
o Cleveland Clinic: Challenges of patient experience (Pages 1-7, 103-108, 177-178)
o Patient First approach (13-28)
o Chief Experience Officer (29-37)
o Transparency: 35-36, 106-108, and 181-186)
o Patient experience (45-63)
o Cleveland Clinic: Defining patient experience (54-63)
o Cleveland Clinic: Organizational culture (65-80)
o Delos M. (“Toby) Cosgrove (66-67 and 712-80)
o Cleveland Clinic: Experience Project (81-96)
o Cultural alignment (92-94) and 222-227)
o Physicians (97-118)
o Patient surveys (122-125 and 178-181)
o Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (150-154)
o Service Excellence (157-175)
o Doctors and communication skills (181-186)
o Practical communication skills: Development (186-192)
o Patient involvement (197-210)
o “Getting It Done Has Defined Our Success (211-227)

In his own book about the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Cosgrove has much of value to say about eight trends that will define the future of medicine. In fact, they will probably define the future, period. He explains WHY or HOW

1. Group practices will provide better — and cheaper — healthcare
2. Collaborative medicine is more effective
3. Big Data will be harnessed to improve the quality of healthcare as well as lower costs
4. Cooperative practices can be the wellspring of innovation
5. Empathy is crucial to better patient outcomes
6. Wellness of both mind and body depends on healthcare, not sickcare
7. How healthcare is best provided in different settings for greater comfort and value
8. How tailor-made healthcare treats a person rather than a disease

Of course, Dr. Merlino is well aware of these and other trends and the challenges they are certain to pose to sustaining, indeed enriching and improving superior health care experience. Consider these remarks when he concludes the last chapter: “Our collective goal is simple: deliver the best possible experience to our patients — or as [Pat Ryan, CEO of Press Ganey] points out, reduce patient suffering. It’s the right thing to do, it’s how we want to be taken care of, and it’s how we want5 our families to be treated. Success will not come quickly or easily, but will be achieved with leadership, strategy, focus, and determination. We must strive to do right — all the time. We would accept nothing less for ourselves or our families; therefore, we should offer nothing less to the people we serve.”

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