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Discovery House

About Discovery House

Discovery House is a national outpatient addiction program with 20 clinic locations in six states. Richard Froncillo, Executive Director for the Quest for Excellence at Discovery House, enrolled his organization in the ACTION Campaign, and quickly saw the benefit of conducting a walk-through.

Project Information

"Using the walk-through and other ACTION Campaign [methods] is connected to Discovery House's strategic plan," comments Froncillo. "We are continually looking at performance measures and asking ourselves how we can do better."

The Discovery House leadership team sought customer feedback through focus groups, and surveys. These strategies revealed that customers valued Discovery House for providing access to treatment as well as offering results.

Yet, the walk-through exercise yielded even more information. "We conducted telephone and in-person walk-throughs of all of our clinics," explains Froncillo. "We put this together with available information about our competitors in our states of operation. We then asked ourselves 'What do we learn from this information?'"


The walk-through results helped the leadership team identify three key goals:

  1. We have to get new customers in the door as quickly as possible (access)
  2. We have to get new customers their first dose as quickly as possible (results)
  3. We have to get new customers to stay at least 90 days in order for them to get connected to their treatment (results)

"We felt that if we pursued these three broad concepts we would accelerate our strategic goals to improve 'census' and 'retention'." The team also felt it would promote a performance indicator that they identified as "customer delight."

Changes Implemented

The First Key Process: Get in the Door, Get Connected, Stay 90

The walk-through results led to a system-wide tactic connected to the Discovery House strategic plan. Named the "The First Key Process," it consists of three phases:

  1. Get in the Door: this is the time from customer first contact to the time of first face-to-face appointment. Discovery House set a performance measure of "within 24 hours" for this phase.
  2. Get Connected: the time from customer first contact to first dose. Discovery House set a performance measure of "within 48 hours" for this phase.
  3. Stay 90: getting new customers connected to their counselor, treatment plan, and other clinic resources so that we do not lose them early on in their treatment. "The performance measure for this is our discharge report for "discharged less than 90 days," says Froncillo.

A Chain Reaction

To make The First Key Process part of the organizational culture, all Discovery House clinics had to assess how they do business, collaborate with each other, and design/re-design processes.

Changes made by the clinic included:

  • Reevaluation of phone systems to ensure that new customer contacts translated into timely first appointments. "We did an analysis of when phone calls came in for each clinic so we could assess the capacity of our phone system," explains Froncillo.
  • Reassignment of phone answering responsibilities
  • Re-design of the intake assessment to conduct prescreening on the phone. "This allowed us to gauge new customers appropriate for our level of care and also allowed new customers time to gather necessary documents."
  • Creation of new schedules for physicians and nurse practitioners to coincide with getting new customers in as soon as possible
  • Implementation of "We care calls" for new customers to make them feel welcome, assess first dose response, catch early dropouts, and remove transportation barriers.
  • Redesign of their approach to new customer orientation groups and introductory groups in order to solidify customers' initial connection to the clinic and its personnel.


Overall, the walk-through exercise started a chain reaction of improvements to the Discovery House access system. "The walk-through tool is a great way to get started with the ACTION Campaign practices," concludes Froncillo.

Last updated 04/15/2011

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