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Winter 2010

The Customer, First and Foremost

Tony Mira
President & CEO, ABC

Most of us are aware of the supremacy of customer service in our professional lives. The subject doesn’t seem very technical or complex and it has not always been offered or seen as part of a professional education. Yet there is a considerable knowledge base on how to provide, measure and improve customer service. In this issue of the Communiqué, we bring you a variety of experience-based perspectives and tools:

  • Marshall Baker, a widely respected consultant, describes the different types of customers served by an anesthesiology practice and offers several sample survey questionnaires.
  • Marie Walton, president-elect of the Medical Group Management Association-Anesthesia Administration Assembly (MGMA-AAA), gives a highly practical explanation of how the employees of an anesthesiology group can foster patient satisfaction, to which Mr. Baker’s model “Customer Service Code of Conduct” is a valuable complement.
  • Mark Weiss has generously given us yet another thought piece, in which he makes the point that the satisfaction surveys have an important role, but that anesthesiologists should try to study themselves as parties to working relationships first. Mr. Weiss uses the term “experience monopoly” to encompass all that goes into offering service “of such a high quality that your customers would not consider obtaining it from any other source.”
  • In Bill Kingsley’s description of how he, as a tax partner with the international accounting firm of Grant Thornton, works to earn the loyalty of corporate customers, you are sure to find ideas that don’t appear routinely in articles on medical practice customer satisfaction yet can be adapted to anesthesiology to make your practice stand out. Note in particular Mr. Kingsley’s insight that “Usually, it takes a team to create a superior service experience. Teamwork means close coordination and collaboration by everyone—from the receptionist to the lead supervisor—to get the job done. Clients expect the left hand to know what the right hand is doing—if they perceive silos in how you operate their confidence declines and their risk of dissatisfaction increases.”
  • In a team effort, five senior members of the staff at Anesthesia Business Consultants have chosen elements of customer service on which to offer some personal insight: effective listening, managing expectations, client-friendly use of technology and honesty with tact.

As vital as customer service is, there are other subjects that merit anesthesiologists’ and their administrators’ attention, starting, perhaps, with the very current question of whether to convert one’s IRA to a Roth IRA. Scott Thompson and Jon Koteski of Oakmont Capital Management, LLC in Oakmont, PA, explain this opportunity in their article “Traditional IRA: Shall I Convert?”

Legal issues, too, are always with us. Members of the Health Law Firm in Southfield, Michigan discuss (1) a recent criminal conviction of an Ohio anesthesiologist for prescribing pain medications in improbable quantities and taking just a minute or two to evaluate a patient and perform a pain injection; (2) the final regulations on mandatory notification of breaches of protected health information and (3) the Stark law exception for “in-office ancillary services” and its significance for pain practices.

Client satisfaction is one of our highest priorities at Anesthesia Business Consultants, just as it is for you. We would hope that our clients would grade us well above the 95th percentile and that you will let us know if we fail to meet your expectations. We also hope that this issue of the Communiqué will provide you with useful information.

Tony Mira
President and CEO