Service Excellence: Principles for SGF Chile

This course will discuss what is service excellence, its relationship to SGF values, and how it is demonstrated.  With an emphasis on patient focus, the impact of the patient journey through infertility, the care they receive from all of our staff, and the power of relationships will be highlighted.

SGF Practice Philosophy

Our Practice Philosophy

OVERVIEW:  In 1991, founding physicians Drs. Michael Levy and Arthur Sagoskin authored the following Practice Philosophy, to guide our actions and goals:

"Our Practice aims to consistently provide the highest level of patient care.  We believe that this is best achieved by meeting the needs of the patient, the staff, and the organization.


  1. Our primary role is to provide optimal patient care.  This is manifested in all our intentions.  These reflect our concerns for:
  2. Our patient’s well-being—medically, emotionally, financially.
  3. Our patient’s right to privacy;
  4. Our first impression w/patients – this is the most important interaction, whether on the phone or in person.
  5. Our obligation to make sure our patients have positive expectations about their visit to our Practice and about their contact w/our staff, and that their expectations are more than met. 
  6. Our need to strive to turn negative situations with patients into positive situations.


  1. Our ability to provide optimal patient care is dependent on the functioning of the entire staff. To achieve this, we:
  2. Value and expect autonomy, accountability, and responsibility;
  3. Value and recognize the contributions made by everyone;
  4. Share our concerns with each other;
  5. Bring solutions, not just problems.  Time is wasted dwelling on the problem instead of solving it;
  6. Help each other, even if it is not our primary responsibility;
  7. Listen to each other’s concerns and assist in problem-solving when needed.  In addition, we do not fight other people’s battles; we direct them to the appropriate person.
  8. Help each other learn the information necessary to obtain optimal functioning and comfort in the Practice, thus leading to optimal patient care.
  9. Recognize that everyone’s role is valuable to the operation of the Practice.  We do not minimize another person’s position;
  10. Interact with each other in a responsible manner.  We do not say one thing and do another.
  11. Strive to turn negative situations with each other into positive situations;
  12. Value other’s concerns about themselves and their problems.


An optimal environment for patient care and staff function can be achieved if the organization supports these goals.  

  1. Excellence is rewarded;
  2. The entire staff must carry out t6heir obligation to insure that the organization functions to support our goals;
  3. The staff will benefit as the organization benefits;
  4. As health care providers and as an organization, we have a responsibility to the community to participate and educate

What does this Practice Philosophy mean to you, upon reading it? Can you see how it may fit in with 'service excellence?'

  • The SG Practice Philosophy is written to guide our actions as we work to provide excellent patient care.
  • The SG Practice Philosophy has no bearing at all, upon the concept of 'service excellence.'

Our Practice Philosophy

What does this Practice Philosophy mean?

Many medical practices have philosophies, which define their attention to 'patient care.'  Our Practice believes that 'the highest level of patient care,' is achieved, when we define, and act proactively on the concerns of our patients, our staff colleagues, and the organization.

Recognizing that we are individuals, and also an integral part of our department/team, and office staff, can provide us with the perspective and training of meeting our patient's needs.

SGF Values

SGF Values

Practice Values - 'EPICC'

In early 2014, the entire staff of Shady Grove Fertility was assembled together.  They embarked upon an activity to discuss and choose the values that embodied their actions and behaviors, in providing service to patients.  Over the course of many discussions and selections, the following five words were espoused as values of the Shady Grove Fertility Practice.  Here they are, with their definitions: 

EXCELLENCE:  the quality of being outstanding or extremely good

PATIENT FOCUS:  delivering services or care which is responsive to the individual’s unique needs

INTEGRITY:  the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles

COMMITMENT:  the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause; the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something

COMPASSION:  the feeling of deep caring and concern for another’s well-being and a strong desire to help


Can you match definitions to the SG Values?

  • Excellence
    the quality of being outstanding or extremely good
  • Patient Focus
    delivering services or care which is responsive to the individual’s unique needs
  • Integrity
    the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles
  • Commitment
    the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause; the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something
  • Compassion
    the feeling of deep caring and concern for another’s well-being and a strong desire to help

Real Scenario: Patient calls for assistance late on a Friday afternoon, near office closing hours, requesting assistance with Donor Sperm issues for tomorrow. Do you assist on late Friday, or ask the patient to call back first thing on Saturday AM?

What is 'The Patient Journey,' and how it relates to Service Excellence

Description:  What IS 'the patient journey?

The Patient Journey, as they travel through a Fertility Medical Practice

The Patient Journey can be easily described as the pathway a fertility patient may take, as they maneuver the different touchpoints through their treatment, and the medical clinic/office.

This diagram is a simple map to show some key points, as a New Patient makes their way through the fertility medical clinic, interacting with various staffers along the way, impacting their perceptions of their care and treatment.

Understanding the patient who is considering fertility treatment, and having an appreciation for their fears and concerns (Will this work?  Can I afford treatment?  What will it be like?  Will it interrupt my work schedule?  How long will it take?  Do I have to take medicines?  What will my partner think?, etc), can help us as clinic colleagues to both perform our roles, as well as meet their needs in a compassionate and focused way.  

We all have a role...from physicians, to Patient Services Representatives

As one example, the SGF Chile physician has an important role in the Patient Journey.  Some of the physician's roles include such items as:

  • building a foundation of trust (ask yourself:  how does the doctor 'do' that?)
  • explain the patient journey, and potential 'detours' along the way (ask yourself:  how might this happen?  Is it possible a diagnostic test may indicate the need for surgery?)
  • provides needed answers/guidance (ask yourself:  how does the physician provide this?  How can this be, if a doctor is busy?)
  • solidifies patient's desire to begin the journey (instilling hope and confidence is a key element of a physician's role.  Ask yourself how a doctor may do so?)

Who's in Charge of the Patient Journey?

Who's in this picture?

Do you think these folks are in charge of the SGF Chile patient journey?

Time for a question: How does the Patient Services Representative fit into the Patient Journey, and support the patient?

The Value of Relationships, and How they may be Built

Relationships...and Trust

We Create Relationships

One of the amazing parts of our positions at SGF is that we have the power to create relationships, with our patients!  We can make them many different ways (with our words, our body language, our information, our timing, our attention to their concerns, to name a few)., and our relationships, in turn, are powerful enough to reflect, and build, TRUST.

Think of a patient's journey through our Practice, on a New Patient visit.  The New Patient may have spoken to the Front Desk, or New Patient Center representative, sharing the details of their attempts to conceive.  They will make an appointment, and possibly receive information either in the mail, or online, to complete.  They will come in on their scheduled appointment day, and meet the Patient Services Representative, the physician, possibly the Medical Assistant and/or nurse, and may also meet with a Financial Counselor.  In those 5-7 interactions with our SGF Chile staff members, patients will have 5-7 opportunities to make thoughts and decisions about their care here:  was it kind, informative and compassionate?  Was it rushed and short?  Did clinic colleagues truly work to answer their questions, or brush those questions off?  All of those meetings are opportunities for us at SG to build relationships to and with our patients.  Similar to a mosaic tile, all of those are important in completing the patient's entire experience of being at SGF, and wishing to continue to pursue fertility treatment.

Our relationships, our interactions with our patients, have the ability to build TRUST.  And, in building trust, patients may have the fortitude and confidence to proceed with testing and treatment, to reach their goal of pregnancy.

A 'trust point' may be described as an opportunity for a patient to learn something about us as an organization, or as individuals.  Each 'trust point' is an opportunity to build the patient's trust, or lose it.  The BEST trust points leave a positive impression on a patient.

 We ARE the SG culture.  Our relationships impact our patients.

Trust points may be defined as:

  • an opportunity for the patient to learn something about us as an organization, or as individuals
  • a temperature point that patients may reach, after sitting in our Waiting Room.

Building Relationships?  WELCOME Patients In!

Welcome Patients In:  First Impressions

First impressions let's look at first impressions, FIRST! 

How long do you think it takes for the average person to make a judgement about a person or situation, based solely on 'first impressions' (what they immediately see and hear)?  Ann Pitts, writing for Business Insider in April, 2013, noted that it takes 7 SECONDS!  ONLY 7 seconds!  What is it we see?  What is it we can do, to create a favorably memorable FIRST IMPRESSION, as we start creating relationships with our patients?

SMILE...the universal language of happy acceptance!

SMILES...pave the way 

Being attentive to patients as they approach your office and/or desk is a respectful part of acknowledgement of the person as an individual.     In addition, smiling as patients approach can take respect, and make it friendly and welcoming.  Smiles cost nothing, but are universally understood as welcome acceptance.  Smile frequently at work, especially as new or returning patients approach your office or desk.

Greetings...and Names

Greetings begin the interaction

Be it 'Good morning,' or 'good afternoon,' a friendly, welcoming greeting to new or returning patients starts the interaction on a cordial note.  Be the first to say 'hello' or 'good morning!'  Own that interaction.

Want to improve upon a simply 'good day?'  USE YOUR PATIENT'S NAME!   They will appreciate the acknowledgement and familiarity that it shows.  Research has recommended to use a patient's name twice in a conversation (not to sound 'stilted' or 'fake,' but to demonstrate acknowledgement and personalization.  In addition to recognition and acknowledgement, greetings can also display confidence and professionalism.


'Good Morning, Sue' is different from 'HiYa, Dude-ette; what'cha do last night?'  


Appearance:  Uniforms or business casual?

Having a clean, tidy, prepared work look, is an outward way for patients to know who we are, who works at our clinic, and the respect that we show in preparing for our work day.  Whether it be scrubs or business casual, be sure to check in with your Office Supervisor to dress appropriately and professionally.  Patients notice!


BODY LANGUAGE: Speaking, without sound...

It's true...our body language speaks to others, without one word.  With our posture, arm and leg positions, turning our back...all of these nonverbal cues send signals.  (And, some of the signals may be unintended and unwanted).  Recall we noted it takes a mere 7 seconds to make a first mindful of your body language, and how we 'speak' without making a sound.

The Words you use:  Courtesy Counts

Courtesy Counts

In addition to using welcoming words, think of the courteous phrases that help in patient interactions.  'Please, thank you, excuse me, let me introduce you to, may you hold a moment...said with respectful courtesy goes a long way in our SGF culture of excellence, patient focus, commitment and compassion.

Can you match these words and phrases?

  • Smiles
    the universal language of happy acceptance
  • Greetings
    starts the interaction on a cordial note.
  • Appearance
    a clean, tidy prepared look demonstrates our respect for the SGF clinic, as well as our patients
  • Body Language
    how we portray our body speaks loudly to our colleagues as well as our patients, and must be considered in our relationship-building.
  • Courteous Words
    demonstrate our verbal professionalism and respect to our patients, as well as support our SGF values.
  • Patient Names
    are important to include, as they personalize the experience, and let our patients know we are speaking to, and about, them

Putting it all Together: Service Excellence Summary

Summary: Service Excellence

Service Excellence: Every Staffer, Every Patient, Every Time

Service excellence is our choice to engage in activities and behaviors that mirror our shared values of excellence, patient focus, integrity, commitment and compassion.

How we interact with our patients (and colleagues), mirrors our professional knowledge and respect, and concern for their well-being and choice to seek treatment at our clinic.  

Recalling strategies that reinforce our commitment to this, is all of our jobs...whether in person, online, or on the phone, with every staffer, every patient, and every time.