Top notch. World class. Gold standard. Such expressions are often used to describe a positive customer experience with good outcomes. But what does that experience actually look like, and how can we apply that to patients in healthcare?
Brad Brabec, M.D., Chairman of Children’s Health Network and President of Complete Children’s Health, an independent physician practice, offers some insights.
1:37 — Dr. Brabec on how the service in his favorite restaurant inspired him on running a healthcare practice
3:40 — Be respectful of your patient’s time
4:56 — Avoid redundancy
5:30 — Provide the value perceived by your patients
- Running a healthcare practice is no different from running a restaurant in terms of providing a good customer experience. Fostering a culture of working as a team is important.
- To provide the ultimate patient experience, be attentive to their needs, respectful of their time, and aim to reduce redundancy in information gathering.
- 99% of the referrals are word of mouth. Quality care and positive experience bring more business to your practice.
CHN News: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the CHN podcast. We are speaking with Dr. Brad Brabec. Dr. Brabec, can you give us an introduction to who you are and what you do?
Brad Brabec, M.D.: Absolutely. I’m a general pediatrician in a private practice, here in Lincoln, Nebraska. The practice is called Complete Children’s Health that I first founded coming on 22 years ago, back in 1995, after having been in private practice for six years in Seattle, and having trained out there at a children’s hospital and medical center.
With regards to this practice, we have taken it from one office location into, currently, four office locations. We have plans to expand to a fifth office location in the next couple of years here in Lincoln, Nebraska, as well.
CHN News: Talking about patient experience, as you know that’s sort of a huge distinguishing factor for many companies. You know, everybody watches movies, for example. But for some reason, there’s something about Netflix that took over and now there’s no more Blockbuster. And it’s not that it’s so much that there are so many different movies. It’s the experiences are different. And we started to see a lot of that translate into healthcare, just focusing more on the actual patient experience. Before we talk about the healthcare part of it though, can you think of a company you really admire because of the experience they give their customers?
Dr. Brabec: Well, you know I love food, so one of them that comes to my mind immediately was, when we moved from Seattle, Washington to the Midwest, particularly Lincoln, Nebraska, we saw a distinct difference in the level of customer service you received in a restaurant. Any by that, people who constantly fill up your water, people who take dirty plates right away, people who took your order right away. All of those things. Yeah, one of our favorite restaurants here in Lincoln, Nebraska, called Lazol’s, provided an incredible level of service, customer service that we even found to be in paralleled some of the finer restaurants in Seattle, Washington. And what did they, [it’s] what makes you want to come here eating there, doesn’t it? So, what did they put forth that created that experience or fostered that culture?
And that’s what’s important, culture. They all work together as a team. So, whether you are actually waiting the table and taking the order, or you are that person who was assigned that table but you are walking by another table you are not assigned to, for instance. One of the several key initiatives to be working efficiently and providing excellent experience was that you never come back to this kitchen without a dirty plate in your hand. So, even though I just took the order over here, I walk by that table, they are on my way back and even though it’s not my table, I pick up the dirty dish that I see right away.
So anyway, providing that ultimate level of service and customer care, and to this day, that restaurant is what I put in front of my staff and say what do you think about the Lazlo’s experience, and what we need to provide here in terms of the customer services and experience for our families? Because it’s really no different. One of the first things we should say is “How can I help you?” And being able to follow through with how can I help you by giving them a solution once they started to tell you about what their needs are. I never want to hear, for instance, somebody schedule and say “You know I’m sorry. All of our appointments are filled up for the day. If your child needs to be seen today, you have take him somewhere else.” You just don’t want to do that. You just absolutely don’t want to do that.
You find a way to help the patient for the day with the child who has ear infection rather than make them wait until tomorrow and saying all the appointments are filled for the day and you have to take them to the urgent care center. So customer experience, all too often, there just hasn’t enough attention paid to that obviously in terms of providing the ultimate customer service and experience. Time is of the essence for them just like it for anybody else, so being respectful of their time more than anything is very very important, number one.
Number two, also trying to avoid redundancy in the care we deliver or in information gather. I alluded to that early on about the forms you constantly having filled out and filled out again, we need to get better reducing redundancy in the healthcare because we see that happening. Why do I just got to tell them that doctor about that, now I have to tell you again about this. So, trying to reduce the redundancy there and trying to deliver again good quality healthcare, being able to spend more time talking and educating on the reason and the problem why you came to the office today as well.
I tell my nurses, when you go to call the family back and you see there’s a mom with a toddler and also happens to have a little baby and a carrier. Help the mom. Offer to take the carrier. Take the diaper bag. Take the toddler by the hand and help guide them back as well. Get patients back to the exam room right away rather than having them sit out and hustling and bustling waiting room with others. Children who are sick and their child isn’t sick.
There’s a lot of different aspects to customer service and experience. And basically when you look at the AAA. What’s the value, what’s the value of the medicine I’m receiving today? Everybody defines value differently and we have to cognize that, of that varying definition of value for everybody and try to serve the perception of what value is to all of our families in the way they perceive that.
CHN News: And that’s great for the patient. Like you said you know what gives them a good experience, they feel valued. How does that help the practice to focus on the patient experience?
Dr. Brabec: Now they again too, Lincoln again there’s a time when you know our growth here and practice continue to be good as well, but our local hospital systems both of them have continued to employ their own physicians and open up their own practices. Other pediatric practices have continued to add pediatricians to their practices as well. So, we are competing more and more in particular for the commercial paying patients and for the Medicaid patients as well. So, you want to provide again AAA medicine. You want to be able to provide good service and good quality care. And I founded this practice here when we started to look at how people got referred to the practice. Literally 99% of referrals were word of mouth. It’s not putting an ad in the paper that’s getting patients to come to our practice. It’s word-of-mouth referral. So, you know a good experience will be told through for others. A bad experience will be told to others.
CHN News: That’s right. That’s absolutely right.
Dr. Brabec: So, provide a good experience and care that you put forth in your practice and the customer service that you are giving as well.