Measuring success Featured

7:00pm EDT February 1, 2006
When companies expand, they often risk losing the quality that propelled them to success in the first place.

That is something that Dan Kohl, president and CEO of Pediatric Services of America Inc. (PSA), is well aware of. He knows that consistency and communication, paired with employee growth and education, are paramount to ensuring that each of his company’s 100-plus locations remains dedicated to providing the highest level of care to its patients and their families.

“When you’re looking at taking care of medically fragile kids, what we do is critically important,” Kohl says. “We’ve got to ensure that the patient is always first and foremost in our mind.”

Smart Business spoke with Kohl about how PSA gauges performance and propels improvement within the company.

How do you ensure consistency and quality across your locations as the company grows?
We measure patient satisfaction on a consistent basis, so we have insight into those locations that might be struggling. We then have a team that will take the information, and we’ll set priorities in terms of the locations we want that team to visit, and they go through an audit process. They’ll pull files. They’ll speak to patients and families. They’ll have the ability to truly assess how we’re doing in any given location.

On a fairly consistent basis, we’ll have a routine number of locations that we’ll visit from that audit perspective to ensure that they’re working through policies and procedures, utilizing the safety tools that they’ve been given.

How often do you evaluate locations?
This scorecard is prepared monthly, and it has a combination of quality-related factors as well as financially-driven factors. We’ll then force-rank those locations. I put out a missive to the organization that celebrates the top performers, and after that goes out, I will send out an invitation to those locations that appear to be struggling.

We’ll get on the phone as a senior management team with those locations, and we’ll go through their business plan and what they are working on to try to get on track. We’ll provide input and assistance and bring real clarity to those things that need to get straightened out.

How do you measure patient satisfaction?
We’ve gone to an outside company that will send out patient satisfaction questionnaires directly to patients, so they don’t go through our locations. If we get a new patient, within 30 days ... they’ll get a patient satisfaction questionnaire. Then every six months, we’ll send out patient satisfaction questionnaires. We gather all of that data back, and we force rank and publish what that patient satisfaction performance is location by location.

How do you reward locations that perform well?
My CFO and I will ... call the location director and personally thank them. We’re not always able to get out to those locations each month. We’ll typically provide for them to take their team to lunch or bring lunch in as a means of saying thank you.

We have an incentive plan that has a combination of quality-driven factors, as well as financial. Those are measured on a quarterly basis.

Finally, we have an annual growth conference where we bring all of the location directors together here in Atlanta. The better part of it is training, working together as teammates, but we do have an awards night and celebrate those people that had a great year. We’ll get them up in front of the rest of the organization and celebrate their performance.

How do you communicate performance and goals?
We try to communicate with the entire organization, and particularly with the management team, about our priorities, about our performance on a consistent basis.

We scorecard our locations [and] distribute that scorecard every month. We let them know how they’re doing. We talk about areas where they can improve, so we let everybody understand where they are.

On a quarterly basis, once we’ve had our earnings conference call with investors, we have a conference call with all of our teammates throughout the company, and we’ll talk about what our results were, what things we did particularly well and what things we want to continue to work out.

In the team assistance center (TAC), as opposed to the corporate office, once a month, we gather everyone together. We talk about performance. We talk about those things that we’re doing well.

We celebrate those people that have done exceptionally well, and we talk about what the priorities are for the next month. We also have monthly luncheons with teammates, and I’ll walk through the priorities of the company and where we stand and then open things up for questions. My CFO and I will have lunch with a dozen people selected randomly by the HR department.

How do you improve your company?
The most important way ... is by virtue of growth. It’s growth relative to our leadership team by challenging people on a consistent basis to improve patient satisfaction, challenging people to improve relative to our scorecard measures, driving the quality, improving the financial performance of our business.

In combination with asking them to grow, personally and as leaders, is actually growing our business — one patient at a time — by taking great care of the patients that we have and consistently looking for ways that we can improve. We spent this last year working on our overall strategy. We sold our pharmacy business as a result so that we could better focus on the remaining segments of our business.

How do you stay on top of all this?
I’ve been phenomenally lucky because at the core of getting it done right on a day-to-day basis is having a leadership team around you who understands the importance and significance of what we do, which is caring for kids. [They are] then able to pass that message on and communicate it to everybody throughout the organization and track and improve on a consistent basis how we take care of patients, how we improve the quality of our care by educating our team and asking our people to grow.

[We have] the leadership that has that philosophy and then brings that philosophy to life in every person that they hire, in every person that they touch, in everybody that we care for and reach out to in the community.

How to reach: Pediatric Services of America Inc.,