• Published
  • By Lt. Col. David Zemkosky
  • 17th Medical Group
Have you seen the new pizza commercials on TV where the executive staff is listening to focus groups saying things like "the sauce tastes like ketchup" and "the crust tastes like cardboard"? One of my favorite quotes from the ad is "You can either use negative comments to get you down or you can use them to excite you and energize your process."

A relatively new metric the 17th Medical Group is being measured on by higher headquarters is called "aggregate satisfaction." It is the combined result of six telephone survey questions asked to patients after they have been seen at the clinic. The questions cover everything from appointment availability to satisfaction with the clinic and the provider and management of healthcare. The Goodfellow clinic currently has the lowest rating within the Air Education and Training Command. This has led the 17 MDG executive staff to take a closer look at our processes.

We started by developing additional surveys to gain a better understanding of what we were doing that was working and what we were doing that wasn't working. We surveyed the staff and we surveyed our customers. The surveys revealed some positive comments and quite a few negative ones as well. Bottom line, we learned from these surveys that we need to do a much better job of meeting our patient's expectations.
We are going to face this criticism head on. We have several exciting changes that are going to occur over the next few months at the clinic and I wanted to take a moment to share them with you.

We are performing an Air Force Smart Operations For The 21st Century project in our Family Medicine clinic. This project will focus on our processes for scheduling, check-in and the appointment itself. We are hoping to gain efficiencies, reduce low value activities and standardize processes. The result should be a more streamlined experience for the patient that will reduce in-clinic wait times and improve appointment accessibility.

In 2008, the 17 MDG underwent a facility assessment survey that determined we are 36 percent (approximately 10,000 square feet) undersized for our population and the services we provide. Unfortunately, we cannot expand the building. However, we have been approved and funded for a military construction project that should begin this summer. This will be a major interior renovation project and will improve anti-terrorism/force protection issues, overall patient flow and ultimately the environment of care. In addition, we are seeking approval for a minor construction project that will provide a new building for several non-patient care related services thereby allowing for additional improvements to space utilization within the clinic. If approved, this project may start as early as this spring.

Finally, the Air Force Medical Service is shifting from treating healthcare as a production business to one that focuses on taking care of the healthcare needs of our patient population. This effort is called the Family Health Initiative and it will be fully implemented at Goodfellow by September. It emphasizes continuity of care for our patients. That is, the patients see their providers and providers see their patients. Our goal is to maximize how often a patient is seen by their assigned provider and improve overall patient satisfaction.

So, I am asking all of you to bear with us through these changes and continue to provide us feedback through our surveys that can be accessed at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/M9NJ23M.

We are listening and we are hopeful that our efforts will not only improve the level of customer service provided by the clinic, but also improve everyone's health.