Memorial Healthcare

  • Location: Owosso, MI
  • Award: Evidence-Based Leadership Healthcare Organization of the Month
  • Awarded: May 2005
Memorial Healthcare Making the Leap

While in pursuit of service and operational excellence, Memorial Healthcare in Owosso, Michigan has found crucial keys to success. They know that the real power behind growth is not markets, technology, competition or services. It’s one thing- the right people working on the right opportunities. With over 1,100 physicians and employees, this independent community hospital has engaged their workforce by forming service excellence teams, tackling the tough questions, developing their leaders, and communicating at all levels. The hospital also has something else going for it-an executive team with a unique blend of personal humility and professional will. Indeed the organization is rich with ambition, but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution not themselves. They want to hardwire excellence so that Memorial is the best place to work, the best place to come for care, and the best place to practice medicine-both now and into the future.

As the community’s healthcare provider of choice, Memorial Healthcare has a passion for improving customer service and providing the highest quality of care in both the office and hospital setting. In 2003, Memorial was not willing to settle on being just a good organization, resting on the laurels of a patient satisfaction level in the low 90’s and average employee and physician satisfaction rates. President and CEO, Cheryl Peterson recognizes that making the transformation into a high-performance culture is challenging. "Good results can become your greatest enemy," she said. "Why change when your performance is good. We asked ourselves this question. And a clear answer appeared --well just wasn’t good enough for us," she said.

Implementing the Studer principles have helped Memorial staff take the healthcare system from being just good to being a great organization where physicians and employees want to come to work each day. According to Peterson, "Organizations who recognize the value of raising the bar on customer service realize the benefits of supporting these efforts through improved patient, physician and employee satisfaction, as well as through the realization of increased patient volume." Although Memorial faced challenges during its transformation period, they were able to sustain their efforts and affect change and actually make improvements in many areas related to internal stakeholder satisfaction and external customer satisfaction. The leadership practice of developing disciplined people, disciplined thoughts and disciplined action led Memorial to these results.

Since the introduction of Studer principles, Memorial Healthcare has achieved the following successes:

  • Seven departments achieved 100% patient satisfaction for five or more months in 2004
  • The organization exceeded budgeted targets in growth by 3.8% and had more admissions in 2004 than in any year since 1999 in a small community in a flat, at best, economic market and with major entities close by
  • Demonstrated a commitment to community through the donation of more than 11,000 hours of volunteer work in conjunction with the region’s service organizations and events
  • Achieved a strong financial performance, above 4% operating margin, and performed efficiently in the face of increased volume, on-going construction, cafeteria interruptions and healthcare worker shortages
  • Increased employee, physician and customer satisfaction

Memorial Healthcare is led by an independent, volunteer board of trustees and is committed to achieving the goals and objectives of a five-year strategic plan (Vision 2008). The 55-member leadership teams consists of the organization’s managers, directors and executive leadership who consistently define, measure and report dashboard results related to six Pillars of Excellence. The first five pillars, People, Service, Quality, Growth and Financial Responsibility represent the five pillars defined by Studer as the basic measurement tools an organization should base success upon. Memorial chose to add and report on a sixth pillar entitled Community due to its strong recognition of its role within the region as the largest employer and a major contributor to the overall quality of life for residents in its service area.

Throughout the past two years, Memorial Healthcare has worked with Studer Coach, Angela Law. The organization’s Service and Operational Excellence Leadership team has been instrumental throughout the past two years in implementing a variety of processes geared toward improving the organization’s customer service and recognition programs. In addition to hosting quarterly Leadership Development Institute educational sessions, this team works closely with six teams related to:

  • Communication
  • Standards of Behavior
  • Physician Satisfaction
  • Rewards and Recognition
  • Measurement
  • Service Recovery

These teams have been successful at hard wiring a variety of customer service and recognition processes such as:

  • Thank You Notes
  • Leadership Rounding
  • Managing Up,
  • Pillar Talk Employee Newsletter
  • Rewards & Recognition Programs/Events
  • Employee Forum Content Improvements
  • Patient Satisfaction Surveys
  • Manager Rounding on Patient Floors
  • Key Words at Key Times
  • Standards of Behavior

In addition, the physicians at Memorial have drafted and support a Physician Promise that reads, "Our commitment to you, as a medical staff, is to provide the highest level of medical excellence in both the office and hospital setting". In addition, the nursing staff took ownership of a promise to the community which reads, "Memorial nurses promise to provide the highest quality medical services with the compassionate care you and your family deserve". These promises speak not only to the level of care a patient should expect to receive at Memorial but are also used to promote why highly qualified physician and nurses choose to practice in a community setting where relationship building with patients and specialists abounds and a high quality of life can be enjoyed by them and their families.

Memorial Healthcare is an148-bed, independent, community owned and governed; not-for-profit facility located in Owosso, Michigan and is the county’s only hospital. Memorial provides health care services to a population of approximately 105,000 residents throughout Shiawassee County and the surrounding counties of Clinton, Saginaw, Ingham and Genesee. Memorial is recognized as one of the nation’s Top 100 Most Wired Health Systems, a designation it has earned for three consecutive years and is also the recipient of the Governor’s Awards of Excellence for Improving Care in the Emergency Department Setting and the Inpatient Setting in 2003. In 2004, this award was received in the Inpatient Setting for care of pneumonia and congestive heart failure patients; and in the Emergency Department Setting for care of pneumonia patients. Its medical staff consists of over 175 primary care and specialty physicians representing 32 specialties.

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