Customer Service is Key to a World Class Phlebotomy Team

Lydia Nelsonby Lydia Nelson
Manager, Core Laboratory

The Johns Hopkins Core Laboratory phlebotomy team is composed of approximately 70 well-trained phlebotomists, many of whom are nationally certified.   This 24/7 team performs approximately 13,000 phlebotomies per month and provides centralized service for the 1,000-bed Hospital and the three major Johns Hopkins outpatient phlebotomy sites.

A culture of safety, quality and professionalism is key to any successful team.  These core values are instilled in our phlebotomists beginning with their orientation process.  During their two-day orientation, team norms and expectations are clearly defined.  Once orientation is completed, our newly hired phlebotomists spend several weeks with our senior phlebotomists learning and practicing standard operating procedures for the various patient populations at our Institution.

A key part of our service is the emphasis we place on customer satisfaction.  Studies have shown that how patients feel about the phlebotomy service they receive during their hospital stay is a key part of total patient satisfaction.  To provide the best service possible, we focus on our patients’ satisfaction and the needs of the physicians, nurses, and other members of our health care team.

People in labTo help our phlebotomists appreciate the importance of great customer service, they must attend our annual Service Excellence training series.  The series includes the following topics:

  1. Building Customer Loyalty
  2. Recovering from Customer Service Breakdown
  3. Dealing with Upset and Angry Customers
  4. Support Services:  Making a Difference
  5. It’s a Private Matter
  6. Effective Telephone Skills
  7. Role Play and Scripting
  8. Patient Safety 24/7

Does such an investment of time and training pay off?   You bet it does!  In January 2009, the Core Laboratory Phlebotomy Team won the Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Service Excellence Award for outstanding customer service.  This award is based on patient satisfaction surveys.

Phlebotomy Team MemberUnder the guidance of Dr. Thomas Kickler, we have recently formed a Hospital-wide Phlebotomy Practices Committee which focuses on standardizing and improving phlebotomy services across the Institution.  Our goal is to work with other health care professionals to better serve patient needs.  We have addressed such issues as handling patients with difficult venous access, supporting national patient safety standards for anticoagulant therapy, providing more stat services and supporting the training of our vascular access team with handheld patient identification devices.  Future goals of providing more microtainer collections and merging the collection of antibiotic levels with routine rounding times are also being considered.

Our three major Johns Hopkins outpatient areas provide unusual opportunities for our phlebotomists to interact with patients of all ages.  These areas can sometimes be the most challenging and provide our phlebotomists a chance to use their scripting and customer service skills to their fullest capacity.  The newest addition to these areas is a personalized thank you card to each customer.  The card thanks each customer for choosing Johns Hopkins Laboratories for their lab-related services and has a space for the phlebotomist to sign their name.  The card also has the phlebotomy supervisor’s name, phone number, and e-mail address for any comments patients may want to communicate.   We also have a three-question patient satisfaction card which we ask each patient to fill out and deposit in a locked box.  Personalizing our work and retaining customers is a very important part of our outpatient business.

Phlebotomy Team MemberAs a world-renowned Institution, we appreciate the critical role of phlebotomists in providing excellent customer service.  As our front line representatives, the conduct, appearance and skill of our phlebotomists leaves a lasting impression with our patients.  Investing not only in the technical training of phlebotomists but also on the customer service side of patient care is one of the most beneficial investments an organization can make.  It is an investment we are proud to make for the very valued members of our Phlebotomy team.

3 thoughts to “Customer Service is Key to a World Class Phlebotomy Team”

  1. We are striving to improve our customer service in the Phlebotomy Department and think the Thank you cards as well as the patient comment cards are an excellent idea. Is there anyway I can get copies of them?

  2. Improving the patient experience is one of our main focuses this year. the tools we have don’t really provide enough valuable feedback on the efforts we are making. I would love to find out more about your Service Excellance program. Did you build the program yourself or is it an adaptation of a “store bought” training program? What are you doing with the comments received from the cards? Are you tabulating them in some way for metrics?

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