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Disney to come to UIHC

BY SAM LANE | APRIL 14, 2010 7:30 AM

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University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics officials have decided to bring two trainers from Disney Institutes to Iowa City rather than send 35 hospital employees to the institute’s Florida location, as a previous proposal suggested.

For $13,000, the two facilitators will spend today and Thursday instructing 198 UIHC physicians, nurses, medical assistants and frontline staff on creating a proper “arrival experience” for patients.

UI spokesman Tom Moore said this includes everything from the time patients are dropped off through their greeting at a clinic.

“The faculty and staff are very excited here,” Moore said. “They’re eager to interact with [the facilitators].”

In December, roughly a month after officials announced the proposal for a trip to Disney Institute and several months after officials announced 200 job cuts at the hospital, the UIHC formed the Service and Operational Excellence Council, which decided to take a more “step-by-step” approach to improving the hospital’s relatively low patient-satisfaction rating. The most recent “America’s Best Hospitals” report from U.S. News & World Report gave UIHC a 64 percent hospital-satisfaction rating, equal to the national average.

The 198 who make up the council come from the hospital’s four health-care areas: adult, children, on-site, and off-site.

Now, instead of spending an estimated $130,000 on the trip — an amount that irritated some state lawmakers — officials have decided to “test drive” the Disney Institute by bringing its facilitators to Iowa City. The $13,000 the UIHC will now pay includes $10,000 for the trainers’ services and $3,000 for their accommodations.

“The focus is on improving service to patients,” Moore added.

Following the session, which is set to finish Thursday afternoon, the council will decide its next steps. Moore said this may include, but is not limited to, a trip to the institute or additional visits from its trainers.

Stacey Thomson, a public-relations manager for the Disney Institute, said organizations often do both, bringing in a facilitator and sending representatives to the institute, where they tour the renowned hospital Celebration Health, which is affiliated with Disney.

“It’s a different experience,” Thomson said. “I wouldn’t say it’s worse or better. Some people are tactile learners, other people do very well teaching in a classroom setting.”

Other hospitals, such as the University of Arkansas Hospital, have used the institute’s services and say they’ve seen a positive effect on their customer satisfaction.

Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, sees the program as critical, and she was disappointed with her colleagues who have spoken against it.

“I am supportive of the program and [the UIHC’s] efforts to improve satisfaction quality,” Mascher said. “I’m excited about the fact that it’s paying attention to this. Whether it’s here or there, it needs to be done.”

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