Tissue Quality Links to Customer Satisfaction at Major Teaching Hospital

May 18th, 2009   •   no comments   
Goldratt and Theory of Constraints Applies to Customer Service Perceptions

Eliyahu Goldratt in The Goal, originally published in 1984, hypothesized that we need to eagerly search out the “constraints” in the system that are preventing higher performance, throughput. I’m going to use that Theory to examine the results of a tiny change that improved customer perceptions in a major teaching hospital’s Ob/Gyn unit that performs ultrasounds and other radiological services.


The problem is that cost-cutting for this hospital has gotten out of hand. Nurses are ferrying patients on gurneys back to their rooms because they’ve saved money by laying off two “transporters.” Myopia at its
best.


But, this story is about a box of Kleenex — premium facial tissue. This Ob/Gyn unit, often, has to break bad news to its patients: malformed fetuses; stillbirth; stunted growth whose origins are a mystery. So, the mothers, and fathers, find themselves in tears after these scans and subsequent consultations.

The hospital, in another cost-cutting measure, provided facial tissues that were so cheap and flimsy that it literally took a whole box for some patients. That was the report from one M.D. She personally invested in the Kleenex, ahem premium facial tissues; patients felt cared for. Without even knowing it.


This is a classic case of applying Goldratt’s theory to the Customer Service / Satisfaction dimension and shift thinking about what it takes to delight a customer, or a group of customers. It also demontrates, with ease, how short-sighted cost cutting measures can be. In the early 80’s, one of the tenets during the recession was to cut the fat, not the bone; now, it seems we don’t even know where the meat is: keep the Kleenex.

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