An interview with Frank A. Corvino


Frank Corvino is YNHHS executive vice president, and president/chief executive officer, Greenwich Hospital.

As chair of the YNHHS Service Excellence Council, Frank Corvino is keen on instituting a healthcare culture that exceeds customer expectations at every turn. Press Ganey scores have risen in each system delivery network since the council began two years ago.

What does service excellence mean to you?

Service excellence is making patients feel that regardless of how difficult their situation, they are going to have a great experience at our institutions and leave in a much better place. To me, that's really at its core.

We've learned service excellence is treating people the way they wish to be treated, not necessarily how we personally would like to be treated. How does cultural sensitivity figure into this?

Understanding the customs and values of our patients and the people we work with is critically important to help us carry out our mission. Putting ourselves in another person's shoes helps us be more compassionate and effective in our jobs.

How does the service excellence culture translate to co-workers?

The most effective institutions are those that treat people with respect. Everybody is important, no matter who they are or what they do. Throughout our health system, we take our corporate values, such as excellence, compassion, integrity and fairness, and apply them to every situation. This includes interactions with fellow employees, physicians, vendors, families — every touchpoint in our organization. In the end, we're not only serving patients; we're serving each other.

How does the way we treat our colleagues affect patients?

Patients are very knowledgeable and sensitive to their surroundings.

If they are receiving a treatment or sitting in a reception area waiting for a diagnostic test, they are highly aware of how our staff interacts. When they see us treating each other with respect and dignity, it gives them reassurance that we will treat them in the same way and that everything will be alright.

Tell us about the YNHHS Service Excellence Council.

Marna Borgstrom, the CEO of the health system, asked me to form this group to raise the level of the patient experience throughout the system. We asked key leaders from each of our organizations to figure out ways to assure that patients have a consistently extraordinary experience at every point during their stay.

What is the council's approach?

Right now we're focusing on standardization, collaboration and research. For example, we want to make sure all employees receive consistent service excellence training. We are also systemizing how we report our patient satisfaction scores and how we document comments and complaints. In addition, sharing ideas with each other and with other industry leaders is a priority, as is research into best practices. The directors of patient relations have been instrumental in implementing new initiatives at each of our locations.

How do you determine specific areas to work on in each delivery network?

We look at Press Ganey and government HCAHPS scores to determine what we're doing well and where we can improve.

How do employees benefit?

First, I think it gives each of us a great sense of purpose and personal value to know that patients are happy with the care we deliver. Second, our compensation is tied in part to patient satisfaction, so that's a motivator. Third, the more patient satisfaction rises, the more volume and market share will grow, and the more job security we will have.

How have service excellence issues changed over the past 15 years?

The values and core issues are the same, but it's much harder to deliver. The Press Ganey scores that ranked hospitals in the 99th percentile in 2000 are much more competitive now because everyone has gotten better. To gain market share, not only do you need great doctors and nurses, you also have to deliver a really good experience. If you don't, patients will switch institutions.

In addition, it used to be that if patients had a negative experience, they would go home, call 15 of their friends, and tell them "boy, that hospital was terrible." Today, with Twitter, Facebook and blogs, it's not 15 anymore. It could be 1,500 or more. So, with each and every encounter we are rated. And we need to exceed expectations every single time.