Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center

  • Location: Wilkes-Barre, PA
  • Award: Evidence-Based Leadership Healthcare Organization of the Month
  • Awarded: November 2011

Geisinger Health System is an integrated health services organization widely recognized for its innovative use of the electronic health record. The system serves more than 2.6 million residents throughout 44 counties in central and northeastern Pennsylvania.

A Decade of Growth

Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center (GWV) is an acute care center serving 11 counties in northeastern Pennsylvania. The campus has nearly doubled in size over the last decade due to a cancer center expansion and the addition of a heart hospital, critical care building, and women's and children's center. Geisinger also acquired another hospital to create Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre, an ambulatory campus of Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center.

During 2011, professionals at Geisinger Wyoming Valley and its affiliates will serve approximately 50,000 more patients than they did in 2005, and hospital discharges will have increased by more than 25% during that same period. With a growing number of medical and surgical subspecialists on staff and the county's only Level 2 Trauma Center, the team at GWV is also treating more complex cases.

While the hospital's success has been gratifying, the rapid growth has been challenging for employees at all levels of the organization. As the demands on the staff were increasing, patient satisfaction scores were decreasing.

Finding a Partner

In August of 2010, leaders at Geisinger Wyoming Valley began a coaching partnership with the Studer Group, Inc. The Studer Group's evidence-based, results-driven approaches to improving outcomes appeared as the best option to assist in improving patient satisfaction scores.

A Service Excellence Committee was created to take accountability for improving scores. The committee includes representatives from Geisinger Wyoming Valley's executive leadership team, human resources, nursing, performance improvement, public relations, food services and numerous other departments. Members of the committee work directly with the Studer Group coaches, and the committee meets weekly to study scores, measure progress and proactively address areas in need of improvement.

Additionally, supervisors from all of the clinical units at Geisinger Wyoming Valley meet with the Studer coaches as well as attend a monthly Service Excellence meeting to report on patient satisfaction issues and progress.

Geisinger Health System

Leadership Development

Geisinger's first Leadership Development Institute (LDI) was held in December of 2010, and followed by additional LDIs in March, June and September of 2011. Several more are planned in the future. Managers, supervisors and executive leaders from Geisinger Wyoming Valley and other Geisinger facilities in northeastern Pennsylvania attend these one-and two-day sessions. Participants learn directly from Studer Group experts about best-practice leadership and practical tools to improve relationships with patients and co-workers, such as:

  2. Patient rounding
  3. Setting monthly meetings with employees and internal customers
  4. Sending thank you cards and 'managing up'
  5. Setting behavior standards
  6. Addressing highmiddlelow® performers
  7. Sharing stories with peers

As a result of this increased focus on patient satisfaction, several issues were identified, and enhancements were made across the campus to improve the patient experience, including:

  1. Free valet parking at all major entrances to the hospital
  2. Benches placed in the hospital's long hallways
  3. A formal service recovery program
  4. Improved signs and way finding

Fast Results

Between the first and third quarters of 2011, Geisinger Wyoming Valley's overall inpatient satisfaction ranking has improved from the 23rd to the 69th percentile. During the same period, the overall ranking for inpatient services increased from the 38th to the 71st percentile. Additionally, GWV has had great improvements in its HCAHP rankings (see chart below).

HCAHPS - Discharge Date

January - March 2011

April - June 2011

July - Sept 2011

Rate the Hospital




Recommend the Hospital




Communication with Nurses




Response of Hospital Staff




Communication with Doctors




Hospital Environment




Pain Management




Comm about Medicines




D/C Information








Quiet at Night




Hardwiring Cultural Change

It's an honor to be named the November Healthcare Organization of the Month for improved and sustained patient satisfaction scores. There is still much work to do in reaching the goal of making Geisinger Wyoming Valley a model of customer service excellence. With the continued commitment of the medical center's outstanding medical professionals, support from Studer coaches, and the leadership of the Service Excellence Committee, the GWV team is confident that the cultural changes necessary to consistently attain high scores in patient satisfaction at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center will be hardwired into every patient encounter.

For more information, visit www.geisinger.org. Follow the latest Geisinger news and more at www.twitter.com/geisingerhealth and www.facebook.com/geisingerhealth.

Photo: Geisinger Wyoming Valley supervisors engage in a team building exercise at a recent Leadership Development Institute.

Gala 2011

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