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Sacred Heart Hospital

  • Location: Eau Claire, WI
  • Award: Evidence-Based Leadership Healthcare Organization of the Month
  • Awarded: August 2005

Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, is privileged to be Studer Group’s Fire Starter of the Month for August 2005.

Every health care organization aspires to make the leap from Good to Great, but once that success is achieved it may be short-lived or, worse, the achievement itself becomes the enemy as an institution rests on its laurels and stagnates. In true Franciscan fashion, the passion of the Sacred Heart Hospital leadership team is: "What is worth doing is worth doing well, to the best of our ability, not just once, but every day." The hospital’s faith tradition teaches that our service to our fellow human beings is the equivalent of service to the Divine, and therefore it must be our best. Quint Studer provided us the tools to achieve and hardwire this service excellence.

In the past year, several honors and metrics for physician, patient and employee satisfaction have demonstrated a hardwiring success:

  • Overall Excellence: Our fiscal year began with a Joint Commission evaluation with no follow-up recommendations and a debriefing commendation from the surveyors stating, "You have a superb organization."
  • Physician Satisfaction: In 2004 and 2005, the Hospital received several "5 Star" physician satisfaction awards and was named the "Top Performer" in Laboratory and Radiology by Professional Research Consultants (PRC). This recognition was followed by an invitation to present Sacred Heart Hospital’s success story at PRC’s 2005 national conference.
  • Patient Satisfaction: Sacred Heart has scored in the top 1% in the nation for inpatient satisfaction for the past nine quarters (and counting). Only five hospitals of the nearly 1,000 surveyed by Press Ganey have accomplished this feat.
    1. Inpatient: Our first metric in 1999 demonstrated we were in the 87th percentile. Today, our 99th percentile scores result in calls from around the country from hospitals asking to visit to replicate our success.
    2. Emergency Room: Our first quarter of Press Ganey baseline data in 1999 found that we were in the 89th percentile; the most recent quarter in 2005 reported that we were in the 96th percentile.
    3. Outpatient: Our 2001 baseline showed a percentile rank of 83; the most recent 2005 quarter shows a percentile of 94.
  • Employee satisfaction was recently measured by a Management Science Associates survey and showed improvements in each category from the previous survey. In addition, there has been a significant reduction of employee turnover to under 8% annually.

Sacred Heart Hospital is proud to be a pioneer in the development and application of service excellence principles. Much of our success is attributed to the Studer Nine Principles roadmap, the joining of metrics to our Pillars (an effort to "measure the important things"), and the application of the "Must Haves" to enhance our culture of service and develop leaders. We have quarterly off-site educational sessions for our leadership teams and focus on a different Pillar each time. We hold our leaders accountable with 90-day plans which outline priorities and action steps and report cards to measure performance outcomes.

To achieve high physician, patient and employee satisfaction, we organized several teams to concentrate improving organizational excellence. To enhance employee satisfaction, monthly "Super Celebrations" are held to recognize employee achievements, honor employees that initiate service recoveries, and reward and celebrate progress. The Super Celebrations also promote a sense of community. In addition, changes inourorganizational structure helped employees share in decision making and we have appliedSix Sigma principles to improve processes.

Our Physician Satisfaction Team implemented a hospital-wide electronic system for physician rounding and contact preferences. Our Patient Satisfaction Team provided a service recovery toolbox in each Department and implemented the practice of follow-up phone calls to discharged patients. They also participated in a national call light study to evaluate how well patient needs are met and determine positive ways to reduce call volume to enable nursing staff to be in control of their workflow.

Communication boards hang in every department, designed according to Sacred Heart Hospital’s Pillar structure for all postings: Service, People, Cost, Congruency, Quality, and Growth. A weekly newsletter updates employees, volunteers and physicians with progress and news in each of the Pillars, and focuses on achievements of Healthcare 2004 and goals of Healthcare 2010, the Hospital’s strategic plans.

Hardwired excellence means that the processes are in place, are permanent within the organization and have become innate in the staff. Our metrics continue to evaluate satisfaction so that Sacred Heart Hospital is the best place to work, the best place to practice medicine, and the best place for quality health care. It is our goal to continually identify new methodologies to improve service and remain on the cutting edge.

The motivation to continue our compassionate work toward Sacred Heart Hospital’s mission is affirmed by the letters we receive. A trial attorney and a close friend of one of our patients recently wrote a letter to the Hospital Administrator:

My friend of over 30 years came to you as his life was seemingly stopped cold, virtually in mid stride while rollerblading. When Icameto the ER within minutes of that moment, I truly expected my friend to be dead, but itappears God had another plan. Throughout his eight-week recovery, I met, indeed, fell in love with what you might consider your "employees." To us, they were missionaries and messengers of hope; people who literally hugged us in the dreadful and tearful moments, as well as the many mini-celebrations of what seemed to be the slow return of life signs evidencing the man we used to know. They counseled us, consoled us and seemingly, loved us too. Every one of your people functioned above and beyond the call of duty....

In short, you have unbelievable ambassadors who give of themselves far beyond what any remuneration could ever reward them. Your staff cared not only for our bodies, but our souls. I am so profoundly grateful to them, and honored to call them my friends.

Sacred Heart Hospital is proud to have a mission-oriented staff that cares for each patient’s well being as well as for each patient’s family and friends. Thanks to the Studer tools, we now have a Hospital culture that consistently delivers this level of service each day.

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