Publisher’s Letter: The Pursuit of Good Marks

I recently took my truck in for service at the local Ford Dealership. I am on my third Ford truck and have been very happy with all three. I have them serviced at the same dealership by the same service manager, Wayne. Wayne is a great guy in his mid-50s and loves cars like I do. We always have a nice conversation about cars, features, current events or even college football, especially when my Buckeyes are winning. Wayne looks out for me. He ensures any recalls are addressed without me asking, and that my time isn’t wasted by keeping the maintenance on schedule. I can’t think of a time I had to return because work wasn’t done satisfactorily.

Every time I have my truck serviced, Wayne tells me I’ll be receiving a survey via phone, mail or email. He says he would like to know in advance if I can’t give him all 5s on the survey. Anything less than a 5 is an egregious mark against his service, the dealership and the Ford brand. Truth be told, I never fill out surveys unless I want to complain. It would take a pretty bad experience at my local dealership to fill out a report with less than 5s, regardless of what went wrong during my visit, because Wayne has made it known to me how important it is to him and the dealership.

Big Data is making demands on everyone in healthcare, especially with patient experience scores. Care givers are beginning to communicate with patients about how critical good scores are to them and their facilities. There probably isn’t as much payment at risk based on patient experience scores as we thought there’d be, but that dynamic may change in the next few years. How patients grade the frontline care givers and facilities will determine more and more of how much they get paid. This is the most obvious effect from reform and its underlying intent to add the value equation into our nation’s healthcare delivery system.

You can connect the dots. If our physicians and hospitals implore patients to fill out surveys — and the importance of good marks on those surveys — they will get better scores. But what I hope the real message is that if our care givers display real concern and earnest caring, they will be rewarded with good marks. As it should be.

Thanks for reading this issue of The Journal of Healthcare Contracting.

John Pritchard