Discovery House Keeps Focus on the Customer

Submitted by: 03/03/2014 by Maureen Fitzgerald

As Clinical Director at Smart Management, Jodie Bither supervises the clinical staff of its partner organization, Discovery House. With 18 opioid treatment programs in four states (Maine, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Utah) Discovery House treats more than 12,500 patients each year.

And the NIATx most important principle, “Understand and involve the customer” is infused into many of the activities she oversees related to implementing Recovery Oriented Systems of Care (ROSC) in all Discovery House clinic locations.

Bither first learned about NIATx in 2003, when she worked as a substance abuse treatment counselor at The Acadia Hospital in Bangor, Maine. She recalls, “Acadia was looking for a way to manage its rapidly growing OTP program, and the NIATx model was used to address access issues.”

“All Discovery House programs have the customer focus that NIATx promotes,” says Bither.

The customer focus includes making sure that the clinic phones are always answered by a live person. A screening line is available 24/7, staffed by four rotating intake specialists.

“When people are ready to reach out for recovery and they are not able to get a live person on the phone, we are missing an opportunity not just for an admission, but a chance to change lives. We don’t want to lose people who are ready for recovery. We’re failing them if we’re not answering the phone.”

Each clinic has a customer advisory board that provides input on policy and practice. Customers are also invited to participate in focus groups and complete patient satisfaction surveys.

“We really look at the data from patient evaluations to make sure we’re addressing issues and making improvements,” says Bither.

Bither considers the Discovery House staff another group of customers. “Regular staff satisfaction surveys are a key part of our strategy to retain and reward staff,” she comments.

Implementing ROSC across the organization has meant training all staff, not just clinical staff, to stay focused on the customer.

“We train the clinical staff as well as our security guards, administrative staff, and anyone who comes in contact with a patient that every interaction with a patient matters,” says Bither.

“Our patients deserve respect and kindness, and we want every action to be positive and inspiring.”

Bither believes that understanding patients and involving them in programming is imperative to their recovery.  “When an organization truly embraces this, shame and judgment fall away. We believe that a person choosing recovery with Discovery House has chosen freedom from shame and judgment, and their journey to recovery can begin.”

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