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Radiology guest services representative Dick Roberts, left, talks with Debbie and Britton Butler. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Radiology liaison paves way for patients

BY: KATHY RIVERS

4/27/2007 - When it comes to increasing satisfaction, Vanderbilt's Department of Radiology has a secret weapon — Dick Roberts, family guest services representative.

This department that sees hundreds of outpatients each day among six different specialties is systematically addressing patient, employee and physician issues to further enhance the patient experience. With a department of this size, it's no easy task — and that's where Roberts plays a vital role in trying to take much of the confusion and ambiguity out of the processes for patients.

Working closely with Administrative Director Rhonda Tully and Assistant Director Allen Bowman, Roberts takes “live” surveys similar to exit interviews of voters, after a patient is finished with a procedure. He asks details about their experiences, logs the answers and has created a growing body of feedback that helps direct the communications efforts in the department. Roberts says people are thrilled to participate and appreciate the personal touch.

As a result of this approach, the department has implemented several new activities to refine its systems. Noticing many patients were flustered about physically locating the department, Roberts created an updated map and delivered them to each of the referring clinics.

The department's floating check-in has been replaced with specific check-ins with more reader-friendly signage to reduce patient confusion. Roberts also put together a patient follow-up card that explains the turnaround time for test results and communication with the patient's physician.

The triumvirate of Tully, Bowman and Roberts each smile when recalling a recent role-playing session with the department's patient service representatives.

Roberts played the part of patient, using real quotes from patient feedback forms. It was a fun, team-oriented approach to address important issues and an eye-opening experience that made a lasting impact on staff.

“I love my job,” said Roberts. “Every day I have the chance to make a difference in someone's life.”

The Radiology Department realizes that satisfaction is a moving target. Future plans include more improvements as well as securing additional volunteers managed by Roberts.

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