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Corporate Business Services’ Super Service Behaviors program includes peer champions who, along with leaders, reinforce the behaviors through staff engagement and recognition.

Corporate Business Services staff become service super heroes

People might not associate the patient experience with the business side of health care, but Yale New Haven Health’s Corporate Business Services staff often have the first and last interactions with patients.

Staff also handle interactions behind the scenes that can affect patients’ overall experience, including those between YNHHS and insurance companies.

Whether helping a nervous parent obtain a price estimate for a child’s surgical procedure, or reviewing a patient’s statement and payment options, “we affect patients’ experiences in the moment, and leave a lasting impression of the health system,” said Sharlene Seidman, YNHHS vice president of Patient Financial Services.

With support from YNHHS’ Patient Experience department, Corporate Business Services (CBS) launched a Super Service Behaviors program earlier this year. CBS worked with Press Ganey to develop the program, which aligns with the health system’s standards of professional behavior. A design team comprising employees from different CBS areas examined the many ways they affect the patient experience and selected critical content for training. Sixteen CBS employees became certified trainers and trained more than 1,200 colleagues across YNHHS’ five delivery networks.

The Super Service Behaviors program focuses on five core “powers”: the power of the first encounter, power of language, power of listening, power of response and power of effective explanation. Staff and leaders learned often subtle ways to make interactions more powerful. For example, it’s OK to say, “I’ll check on that for you” but better to personalize responses, “I’ll check on that for you, Mr. Smith.”

“Initially, employees were hesitant, but they saw how the behaviors can enhance interactions with patients, their coworkers, and people outside the organization,” said Melisa Brereton-Esposito, CBS director, Systems Training and Staff Development.

“Some of our call center employees said they learned how to use language to de-escalate situations with upset patients,” said Mindy McNamara, Patient Financial Experience coordinator. “Other staff members said they’re taking a gentler approach with insurance company representatives.”

With the program launch and initial training complete, CBS is focusing on sustainability through regular refreshers, including customized leadership training.

“Super Service Behavior training was a fun and memorable first step,” said Sandy Elkin-Randi, Patient Access director. “Appreciative Reinforcement training for leadership is helping managers support employees in making every encounter with every person positive.”

An “I’ve Got the Power!” monthly challenge encourages staff to reflect on and share stories about how they’ve used the behaviors while practicing one power each month.

“Some of these reflection stories are really moving,” Seidman said. “They show how we can make a good experience even more powerful