UTMB University Eye Centers wired for excellence

Posted: July 2009

GALVESTON, Texas How satisfied are patients with their experience at UTMB University Eye Centers in Friendswood and Galveston? Very satisfied, according to recent survey results.

The Friendswood eye center earned a 99-percent patient satisfaction score among patients surveyed April-June, making it the top-rated clinic among the 25 University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) clinics rated. The Galveston eye center ranked fifth with an 89-percent patient satisfaction score. These scores are more than twice as high as the average ranking among the thousands of clinics whose patients are surveyed by a national survey firm.

The eye centers, which provide a full range of ophthalmology services, have raised patient satisfaction scores through a concerted effort that includes leadership training, culture change and a focus on excellence.

Dr. Bernard Godley, chairman for the UTMB Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences (OVS), said, "Excellent customer service and patient care are our top priorities. For more than three years we have had a focus on excellence and have seen steady gains in patient satisfaction scores.

"After completing Studer Group training for doctors and clinic staff this spring, we pushed into the 90 percentile. It helped us wire our clinical DNA for service excellence," Godley said.

The Studer Group is a firm that specializes in creating and sustaining a culture of patient-centered care in health care facilities. UTMB has implemented a service excellence plan that includes leadership and staff training to improve patient satisfaction across the board.

Godley said the eye clinic doctors and staff work as a team to implement practices that are proven to increase patient satisfaction.

For example, before entering an exam room, a doctor will knock on the door. Doctors and staff introduce themselves and briefly describe what to expect during treatments. When meeting a new patient, they also give a brief summary of their background and training.

"We connect with them to make them feel comfortable and confident that we will deliver on their expectations for the visit," Godley said. "At the end of the visit, we thank them for the opportunity to take care of them."

Godley added that the staff also plays an integral role, beginning with that first verbal handshake over the phone. He said the staff sets the stage for excellence based on that initial contact.

"When they come to either of our eye centers, we have convenient free parking, a modern facility and pictures and bios of our care providers. Patients can see who is going go to take care of them and learn about their backgrounds."

The eye center team also understands that reducing patient wait times has been a key to customer satisfaction. By tracking the length of patient visits and educating doctors and staff about their roles, the average length of patient visits has been cut in half to less than 90 minutes.

Dr. Erik van Kuijk, OVS vice chairman and medical director, worked closely with eye center manager Sammye Hesser to align the entire eye center team around consistent best practices and common goals.

"We are in the business of caring for people. We want to ensure that they have a great experience when they come to one of our eye centers. And if they do, they will be more likely to refer their friends and family," van Kuijk said.

UTMB uses a national survey company that surveys patients from thousands of health care facilities and provides benchmarks against similar facilities throughout the U.S. More than 35 percent of UTMB clinic patients are surveyed, with data results tabulated weekly.

A medical staff of 10 eye care specialists serves patients at eye centers in Galveston and Friendswood, as well as The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Eye center locations in Galveston, at 700 University Blvd., and in Friendswood, at 400 W. Parkwood, Suite 120, provide care by a team of specialists in a full range of eye conditions and services including:

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
  • Diabetic-related eye diseases
  • Diseases of the retina
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Pediatric ophthalmology
  • Adult strabismus
  • Refractive surgery/LASIK
  • Cosmetic procedures, including eyelid surgery and BOTOX

For more information about eye center services and physicians, visit www.UTMBeyecenter.com.