Redefining a caregiving culture

Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City, Michigan

The NMSC is the largest Ambulatory Surgery Center in Michigan and one of the largest in the United States. They serve between 85 and 115 individuals a day with 11 different service lines: everything from cataracts to hand surgery to whole joint replacement.

Safety, compliance, efficiency and throughput assure profitability; the staff’s patient experience ratings ensure referrals, return visits and positive word of mouth.

The cost of entry into the healthcare system is SO HIGH, if you don’t pay attention to the patient experience, you’re going to lose - on a lot of different levels.
— LoAnn VandeLeest, CEO

According to their 2016 patient satisfaction surveys, NMSC has between a 96 – 99% approval rating, but NMSC’s leadership believed that they could do better. They asked us to undertake a patient experience audit that includes pre-visit, welcome, pre- and post-operative areas.

Time is a precious commodity for the staff at NMSC. We defined a process to elicit targeted, succinct input at each meeting, and delivered on expectations. In many cases, group discussions led to new realizations of each team member’s responsibility and ways of communicating.

This was by design: the biggest part of the challenge was to build awareness among the staff of the different ways NMSC looks and sounds to patients, and design a system of training and tools to help them “speak in one voice.”

The goal: IMPROVE THE EXPERIENCE for staff and patients by providing each with better information before, during and after each visit to the facility.

In doing so, improve patient satisfaction scores to exceed upcoming 2018 federal guidelines for ASCs, and guarantee all available Medicare reimbursements. 

For staff, training and tools resulted in inconsistent messaging to different types of patients. We’ve developed a communication platform to make each touchpoint relevant, simple and human.

For patients, it’s critical for them to have as much certainty as possible throughout their journey so they don’t question their trust in the organization. Communication is the key.

In the end, we’re designing a system to give NMSC’s patients and staff multiple reasons to tell better stories.

The results of our Journey Mapping Workshop

The results of our Journey Mapping Workshop


Working closely with NMSC’s CEO, we built a process to enlist leaders from throughout the organization for input and feedback. While they provided examples of their process and communications, we discovered gaps that could be addressed.

First, we established expectations for the internal team’s participation, and discussed outcomes for the audit in the context of key performance indicators: staff and patient satisfaction numbers based on survey results. 

In a workshop session, we built patient personas to determine different needs and anticipate emotions throughout their journey: their primary care physician, referred surgeon, contacts and information from NMSC and others. 

We then described individual journeys and built a master journey map that outlines each clerical or clinical touchpoint. When a person interacts with the NMSC, our process assures consistency with:

MESSAGE: the information being shared;

MEMBER: the person responsible for sharing it;

MEDIUM: how it's delivered; and

MOMENT: at which point in the process.

We've created a comprehensive case study that describes the entire process in detail. We'll be happy to share the story with you!