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Does a “Culture of Hospitality” have a place in an FQHC? Yes!

Matt Davis | Healthcare Administrators, Healthcare Information, Physician Recruiting, Physicians

Today on the blog, we visit with Jennifer Genua-McDaniel who is the founder and CEO of Genua Consulting, LLC. In this capacity, she works closely with the Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) as a reviewer for operational site visits and provides training and technical assistance to community health centers, Look-Alikes and Primary Care Associations (PCAs).

Our focus for this conversation is on hospitality and its place in healthcare today.

Our Conversation with Jennifer

AMP: Before we dive into the role of customer service, aka the patient experience, can you share your journey into FQHC consulting with us?

Jennifer: I have worked in FQHCs for almost 16 years; 8 of those have been as a CEO. In 2013, I formed a consulting company thinking that was the direction I wanted to go for the future.

I realized that working in an FQHC would give me the knowledge to provide to others and I could legitimately say “That happened to me or I understand what you’re talking about”.

When my husband unexpectedly passed away in 2015, I realized that I needed to step away to heal. I would never have believed that a decision I made in 2013, would help shape what I do today.

AMP: Herb Kelleher, the founder of Southwest Airlines, said this, “I tell my employees that we’re in the service business, and it’s incidental that we fly airplanes.”  If FQHCs took that mentality in their clinics, what effect do you foresee it having in their business?

“I tell my employees that we’re in the service business, and it’s incidental that we fly airplanes.”

Herb Kelleher

Jennifer: As the landscape and delivery of health care is changing and as individual states choose to expand Medicaid, individuals now have a choice of where to receive care and with who; just as individuals have a choice of which airline they fly.

The power of choice, along with word of mouth can either help or harm an organization. I don’t think it matters what line of business someone is in; we all want excellent customer service. What does that look like? For me, this means (I’ve just listed a few, so these are not an inclusive list):

  • Being treated like I would want to be treated
  • Keeping Promises- if you said you’re going to call me or contact me, please do so; whether it’s via a phone call or email.
  • Monitoring staff interactions – it’s amazing how much you see and hear just by accident. Hearing how staff talk about other clients, or what they talk about can affect where someone goes for care. After watching this video, would this be an organization you would want to seek care at?

AMP: Traveling across the country, I imagine you have a list of “I cannot believe I just witnessed that” moments.  Can you share your Top 3 and the impact this lack of customer service can have on an FQHC?

Jennifer: What a great question. Here are three points to consider in your customer service strategy.

  1. Not valuing front desk staff. I was at an FQHC where I went into check-in and the patient advocate/front desk staff member didn’t look at me, didn’t acknowledge me, opened the window and said: “here fill this out”. It made me feel like a number and not like a person. I wasn’t even there to get care; I was there for a meeting. That initial impresssion can either make or break an organization.
  2. Open communication. The biggest complaint I hear from all levels of an organization is “I don’t know what is going on in my own company.” While some things may be proprietary or must be kept confidential, being able to share information that would enable a company to move forward can be essential for trust and communication.
  3. Founder’s Syndrome. Some FQHCs have been in existence for many years and are considered Legacy FQHCs or Legacy Organizations. Changes such as value-based care, quality of care and even with the new HRSA Compliance Manual and OSV Protocol, Executive Staff, boards and regular staff need to think outside the box and be willing to try new things. Virtual Care online (which is separate from telehealth), team-based care, value-based payments, recruitment and retention and so many other areas of managing an organization are just a couple of new things to think about.  Resistance to change can cripple an organization.

AMP: We know that culture starts at the top, but what can employees do at the ground level to provide a better experience for the patients even if it is not driven from the top?

Jennifer: Each employee plays a part in an organization, and each employee can be a leader within their respective job duties. It doesn’t matter what role or responsibility; taking ownership of one’s job duties can make the workplace better.

As a CEO, I would tell you my philosophy was to hire to my weakness; that would allow me to surround myself with talent that would make the organization better.

AMP: No matter the industry, employee engagement plays a crucial role in workplace productivity and creativity.  Can you share a cool story from an FQHC that really stood out to you?

Jennifer: There is one I thought was cool!! Personal Development Plans (PDP). I was in an FQHC talking to the CEO and COO, and they told me that everyone had a PDP, including the facilities staff. I thought to myself, “really?” and both the CEO and COO told me to talk to the gentleman in facilities.

Once I found him, I said, I heard you have a PDP and he said yes. I asked him what his goal was and he said “We have patients that are unable to come to our health center and I have overheard that compliant. I would like to get my CDL to drive a bigger vehicle to bring more patients into our clinic”. That floored me. The compassion of one man could make an impact not only from a financial aspect but also with quality of care.

AMP: For our readers, are there any resources you would recommend, i.e., books, podcast, conferences?

Jennifer: When I first started, someone recommended the book “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr. Spencer Johnson. When I lecture at Universities or speak at conferences, I recommend this book. I just want to pay it forward. When I’m at a crossroads of my life, I still go back to that little book.

AMP: Jennifer, if anyone reading this wanted to get in touch with you, what is the best way to do that?

Jennifer:  The best way to reach me is via email.

We appreciate Jennifer taking time to answer a few questions for us. Here is more about her professional career. She also provides private consulting to community health centers. Jennifer has worked with FQHCs and FQHC LAL’s for the past 16 years and 8 of those years in a CEO capacity. Jennifer holds bachelor’s and honors degrees in Health Education and Promotion from Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.  She also completed the Community Health Center Executive Fellowship certificate program at the University of Kansas.

There is no doubt, with the internet at their hands, the consumer has more buying power than ever before.  This includes buying power as it relates to healthcare.

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