Throughout their shifts, business associates, clerical associates, information associates, clinical service assistants and unit clerks get all kinds of questions — everything from "How late are visiting hours?" to "Can you watch my kids?"
No matter how unexpected some questions might be, these staff members answer them with a smile. But as presenters at the April 22 Business Associates Day celebration pointed out, they are much more than friendly faces. The theme of this year's celebration was "Not just a smile ... we're dedicated to service excellence."
"You set the tone, you set the culture, you set the experience," Diane Vorio, RN, MSN, vice president, Patient Services, and associate chief nursing officer told the more than 100 BAs and their colleagues gathered in the Park Street auditorium.
Vorio noted that these key staff members support patient care by answering patient call bells and relaying information to nurses; work to orchestrate patient flow by ensuring patients are in the right place at the right time; help ensure documentation and billing are complete; and contribute to staff and patient safety by being the "eyes and ears" of the unit.
Sharlene Perry, unit clerk, Nurse Staffing Office, and a member of the BA Steering Council that organized the celebration, echoed Vorio's remarks. "We are exceptionally focused on customer service," she said. "We are here for everyone."
As the first staff members people see when they come to the units, and often the last staff members they see when they leave, BAs play a significant role in the patient experience — and the experiences of visitors, employees and physicians, said keynote speaker Michael Bennick, MD, associate chief of Medicine and medical director, Patient Experience.
"When I'm walking through the hallways at the hospital campuses, it's you who make me feel at home," he said.
Dr. Bennick also noted that the patient experience goes beyond making people happy. He highlighted the roles BAs play in ensuring patients are safe, valued, listened to, cared for, cared about and treated as individuals.