To help us in our quest to better serve our patients, we developed a guidebook called The Smooth Operator Manual for our employees, whom we call colleagues. It’s divided into three sections – Welcoming, Respectful, Skillful – and provides specific, common-sense actions like those shown above. It also includes how-to suggestions from other colleagues and quotes from patients.
We made the The Smooth Operator Manual pocket-size so colleagues could carry it with them and refer to it often. It’s a little book with a big goal, but it’s making a real difference as we work to redefine health care. Ask our colleagues to see a copy when you’re in our centers.
Maximizing The Patient Experience
The idea appears to be based on common sense principles. Treat patients well when they come to your practice and provide them with the best care possible. Simple, right? But, do you know exactly how to do that, and more specifically, how to do it well? How do you know that you are effectively maximizing your patient’s experience, as well as the level of care they are receiving? And as a manager, how can you be assured that every employee within your company has the proper tools at their disposal to deliver the level of service and care that you expect?
NY Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy has always made patient care and the overall patient experience a priority within their practice. They are dedicated to offering more than just exceptional health care – they strive to make their patients feel comfortable, welcomed, respected and at ease, so that their entire experience is a positive one. From the way the phone is answered to how patients are greeted at the door, and from the way the facilities are designed to the way employees are dressed, the company puts the patient first in creating an atmosphere that is accommodating, professional, and inviting. The level of service and care offered by NY SportsMed has become a hallmark of the premier sports medicine and physical therapy company in New York.
Although the management at NY SportsMed was satisfied that their staff had been effectively creating the patient-centered environment they envisioned, to enhance the extraordinary level of health care that their practitioners provide, they wanted to ensure that a commitment to quality remained as a focus of all employees. That’s why they recently introduced a manual to help their employees understand exactly how to carry out the mission, vision and ideals of their practice with ease. The new publication, named the Smooth Operators Manual, offers guidelines on how to maximize the patient experience while optimizing the level of health care offered within the practice.
Behind Our Idea
Adam Banks, co-owner and CEO of NY SportsMed, developed the idea for the Smooth Operator Manual along with Luke Bongiorno,PT, as a way to better assure that all employees within the company not only understand the mission and ideals of the practice, but so that they also know what it takes to turn the company’s vision into reality. “We put so much emphasis on putting the patient first in our practice,” explains Bongiorno, “but we realized that not everyone knows exactly how to naturally do what it takes to provide an exceptional patient experience. It’s not that it’s difficult to do, but sometimes people just need to be made more aware of the effect their actions have on others. Small things make a difference and the manual makes our employees more aware of simple actions they can take that can have a big impact on how our patients feel.”
The Smooth Operator Manual is divided into sections to match three of the core ideals of the practice – friendliness, respect and skillfulness. Each section is designed in an easy-to-read format that explains why it’s important to focus on the principle and then provides basic suggestions for how employees can employ those principles in their day-to-day activities and patient encounters.
For example, in the section dedicated to friendliness, emphasis is placed on the importance of exuding a sense of genuine warmth and concern for patients. “We tell our employees, say hello, introduce yourself, ask people how they feel and whether we can do anything to make their visit more comfortable, and address them by name,” explains Luke Bongiorno, Director of Physical Therapy and co-owner. “We remind them that it’s not only important to make eye contact and to greet each patient with a smile, but that they need to really listen to what the patient says and address their concerns . These are all ways of making a lasting positive impression and establishing a relationship that makes the patient feel like they made a good decision to choose our practice.”
The section on respectfulness is tied into the prior section and provides additional ways for employees to effectively improve the patient experience. “Respect is a hugely important value within our practice,” explains Banks. “Our patients deserve our respect in all aspects of their dealings with us, from being seen on time to being treated with courtesy and understanding. We instruct our employees to be respectful on the phone and in person – in how they communicate about treatment, in how they listen to patients’ stories, and even in how they dress, to create a feeling of confidence and professionalism.”
Of course, it is also of the utmost importance to the management at NY SportsMed that the employees they hire are skillful, and that they are proactive in seeking additional knowledge so they remain at the forefront of the industry. “We are a premier provider of sports medicine and physical therapy because we’re good at what we do,” explains Banks. “We hire the best, but we also encourage an atmosphere where our practitioners, as well as all of our employees, are always learning and sharing knowledge.”
The final section of the manual provides recommendations on how employees can operate in the most professional way possible so they can offer extraordinary health care to their patients. The focus on this section is on actions such as being attentive, listening to the patient, increasing relevant knowledge (and sharing that knowledge), being confident, following up, and ending the visit with an appropriate plan of action.
The Smooth Operator Manual has been well received by the employees of NY SportsMed, and Adam Banks is confident that it will serve as a great reference tool for both existing and new employees. “The effect we’ve already seen on our business has been outstanding”, explains Banks. “We already knew that our employees generally understood the mission of our company, and we see them work each day to create a positive patient experience. Yes, we thought it was important to create a publication that would highlight our ideals and suggest actions we can all take to further promote our vision, but we didn’t quite realize what an impact it would have so quickly. I think that sometimes we forget to do the ‘little things’ because we get so caught up in the bigger picture, but this has proved that those small actions can truly make a big impression.”
Health care is about more than just the treatments and techniques designed to make patients feel better and improve their health. It’s about the way that patients feel while they are receiving that treatment. From the initial call to inquire about an appointment through to the actual office visit and any follow-up, how a patient is treated goes a long way in defining the quality of the care they receive. With the creation of the Smooth Operators Manual, the management at New York Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy has taken one more step in meeting their commitment to optimize health care treatment and maximize the patient experience.