AHRA 2017: Bringing Disney’s Magic of Customer Service to Radiology

AHRA keynote: practical takeaways for imaging leaders.

In the shadow of Disneyland, nearly 1,000 attendees at the 2017 AHRA: The Association for Medical Imaging Management annual meeting, kicked off the week in Anaheim with a keynote from entertainer Chris Blackmore.  Combining humor and magic, Chris translated Disney’s famously successful customer service approach to practical takeaways for imaging leaders.

Radiology directors and imaging managers today are faced with managing lower reimbursement, volatile legislation, and stiff competition. It’s a lot to navigate, and the stakes are high. Chris urged attendees to realize that one of the few things they can control in the response to these pressures is delivering an outstanding patient experience.AHRA attendees at keynote

It is easy to focus on the day-to-day management of the radiology department – patient throughput, equipment utilization, and cost controls. But an outstanding patient experience will help your facility meet patient satisfaction goals tied to value-based care reimbursement models, and attract and retain referrals and patients in consumerized-healthcare environments. It will also help you truly offer the patient-centered care we all aspire to.

Applying Disney’s successful customer service to radiology

During his keynote, Chris called imaging leaders to action:

  • Create ambassadors – Don’t forget that the patient expects the X-ray to be done right the first time.  What they really appreciate is the heart of the person doing the procedure. Encourage your staff to shift their attitudes and expectations of their roles. Provide coaching on how to bring more comfort and care into patient interactions. Highlight examples from peers and patient feedback to establish a unique, personal approach. Evaluate your employees and confirm you have people who care on the job.
  • Hear. Think. Learn. –  Like Disney, you can hear, think, and learn your way to better patient experiences. Remember that the patient is in an uncomfortable situation, and it only takes a little to make them feel that much better. Consider Chris’s approach:  Hear – Listen with your heart, not just your ears. Remember, fixing the problem is expected, but empathy is unexpected. Think – Train all staff to be helpful first and foremost. Provide the knowledge needed to take action quickly. For example, everyone in the department should be trained on what to do when a patient is scared. Learn – Learn from the good and bad patient experiences. Show your team that you take action from the positive and negative outcomes, and nurture your staff.
  • Empower your teams to improve the patient experience – Leadership must allow employees to have some leeway in how they manage the patient experience. Disney is a customer service leader because its employees are able to act on their own with little bureaucracy.  Lines of communication have been clearly defined for how to turn a “pow” moment into a “wow” moment. These ground rules allow employees to act to deliver outstanding experience, rather than react to a situation gone bad.
  • Inspire – If nothing else, as managers we are here to inspire. We need to set expectations by being the example of professionalism. We set the tone in front of the patient and behind the scenes. Motivation is like a shower – it needs to happen every day.

A trip to Disney is a voluntary choice and one that most people look forward to. However, a trip to a radiology department or imaging center is likely under very difficult circumstances. Providing a compassionate, helpful, and thoughtful experience not only provides comfort; it is the key to a more productive and profitable department.

Speakers at AHRA also made the connection between strong leadership and improved patient care. Read the blog here.

Did you attend the AHRA keynote? What points did you take away? What actions are you putting in place to ensure your staff delivers a “magical” patient experience”?

#AHRA2017 #radiology

Erica Carnevale is a marketing manager at Carestream Health for the United States and Canada.

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