ASC Administrator

Interview with Joyce (Deno) Thomas, Senior Vice President of Operations An effort to establish corporate values and recruit excellent leadership in 2007 has blossomed into a company wide culture, satisfaction enhancement and performance measurement tool for surgery center developer Regent Surgical Health. In an effort to improve its recruitment and business prospects, Regent began working several years ago with Thomas Jacobs, CEO of MedHQ, a professional employer organization and business outsourcing service for ASCs, surgical hospitals and other healthcare businesses. Mr. Jacobs put Regent in touch with People Ink, a human resources firm that has worked with many large, well-known companies to develop their internal cultures. “We were trying to understand what the inherent qualities of the most successful leaders in our facilities were,” says Joyce (Deno) Thomas, who oversees quality improvement for Regent and serves as the chief operations officer of its Eastern Region. What emerged, following hours of meetings with administrators and regional leaders to gather input, eventually became Regent’s RISE values system. RISE stands for Respectful Caring, Integrity, Stewardship and Efficiency. RISE embodies the values that Regent hopes to exhibit both internally and with customers. According to their website, “respectful caring” involves demonstrating compassion toward all stakeholders. “Integrity” is staying true to what the company believes in, doing what you say you will do and adhering to commitments. “Stewardship” means taking responsibility for using and developing the company’s people, property and assets while fostering a safe and secure environment, and “efficiency” involves appropriately identifying, selecting and managing resources to ensure excellent clinical and financial outcomes. These values are not only fostered within the company, they are reinforced through incorporation into interview guides, job descriptions and performance evaluations. “People who demonstrate high standards of all four values are more likely to be hired and to receive better performance reviews than those who do not,” Ms. Thomas says. Results show the culture has taken hold. Nursing attrition rates have dropped across the country for Regent, Ms. Thomas says. Patient satisfaction elements that are tied to RISE components such as respectful caring, stewardship and efficiency have also risen, according to monthly patient satisfaction reports. Finally, the synergies between staff and physicians in Regent facilities that have embraced RISE have improved. Last year, Regent began recognizing employees and rewarding them for demonstrating the core RISE values. Anyone who works at a Regent facility can nominate a recipient, but the nomination must be backed up with a story explaining how the employee embodied one of the RISE components. “It can’t just be so-and-so smiles a lot,” Ms. Thomas explains. The employee — or team of employees — then receives a puzzle-piece shaped pin to wear or display. So far, about 40-50 employees have received such recognition, Ms. Thomas says. In the latest addition to Regent’s RISE program, at the suggestion of one of the company’s administrators, a RISE scholarship program has been launched to award the children of facility employees. To be eligible, the student must be a graduating high school senior or already in college or technical school. Unlike most other scholarships, this one is not based on grades or athletic prowess, but rather on values. “We thought this was a great idea because it perpetuates those core values in our young people and eventually our adults,” Ms. Thomas says. The RISE program is constantly evolving and adding new elements. Ms. Thomas is currently thinking about how best to incorporate physicians who work at Regent facilities into the mix and recognize them when they go above and beyond expectations. “You can’t let a program become stagnant,” she says. For other companies hoping to build a corporate culture, Ms. Thomas has some words of advice: Success depends on incorporating the ideas and input of a wide range of stakeholders within the company. A top-down approach won’t work. “If you just post something up on the wall, forget it,” she says. “It’s not worth the piece of paper it’s written on. It really has to be a way of thinking.”