Columbia University Medical Center

ColumbiaDoctors Implements Expectations For Service


When patients come to a world-renowned institution like Columbia, they expect a world-class level of service, and we all work hard to ensure they receive just that. ColumbiaDoctors is now implementing a set of Service Expectations for all providers and staff that will more clearly define exactly what this level of service looks like.

“Although all of our practices are different—we have different specialties, different workflows, different locations and space—we can make our patients feel more comfortable, welcome and respected,” says Kate Dauer, director of patient access, who noted that NewYork-Presbyterian has already rolled out similar Service Expectations. “If we are all meeting similar expectations, patients will feel more of a connection across ColumbiaDoctors and hospital services. It also provides an opportunity for us to collaborate with NYP on best practices, tools, and training.”

The Service Expectations are organized around different types of patient interactions:

  • Front Desk and Entrances/Area Check-In and Check-Out
  • Informing Patients about Wait Times
  • Patient Exam/Treatment Room
  • Hallways/Elevators/Public Spaces
  • Phone Interactions
  • Service Recovery

For each patient interaction type, expectations are provided along with associated behaviors for providers and staff. For example, when patients check in at the front desk, the expectation is that they will all be properly greeted and have their needs addressed with courtesy and respect. But what does that look like?  How do we know that we are successfully meeting this expectation?

In this case, the outlined behaviors accompanying the expectation include acknowledging each patient with eye contact and a smile, and maintaining eye contact throughout the interaction. “Having these specifics will help providers and staff understand how to meet the expectations and help managers recognize when their staff are meeting expectations,” says Dauer.

Over the coming months, FPO leadership will be discussing the expectations with administrators and managers, and will work with Human Resources and individual departments on ways to incorporate the expectations into the hiring process and daily operations.