NEWTOWN, Conn. -- What can a doctor's office learn from a department store? According to Richard Gemming, executive director of Western Connecticut Medical Group and vice president of Western Connecticut Health Network, the answer is a lot.
Western Connecticut Medical Group recently opened its Newtown Primary Care Center, which Gemming hopes will become a model in primary care and specialty services.
"We’re looking to change the practice culture and the look and feel of our practice offices," said Gemming, who joined the network this June. "We are focused on improving the patient experience; everything from how staff greets and treats patients to the office design has been improved. All of this supports a patient-centered medical home model and aims to improve the patient-provider relationship."
For instance, Gemming's team is adopting best behaviors from the hospitality field. Staff has been trained to treat guests at the new Newtown practice with a "concierge" approach. Much the same way Nordstrom salespeople famously bring bagged purchases from around the counter rather than hand them over the counter to customers, staff have been trained on the most welcoming way to greet patients at the door and bring them comfortably through the care process. In doing so, the center looks to become a model for customer service in the healthcare field, and provide personalized care without compromise.
WCHN is also working to develop in-office media content and using an electronic health record to stay in touch with patients. "The television screen in our offices will feature healthy tips and explain what to expect on your visit," said Gemming. "We’ve developed informational brochures for patients letting them know more about the staff that takes care of them."
When it comes to services provided, the Newtown Primary Care Center will operate as more than a place to go for sore throats. "What we want to have is a primary care based practice where sub-specialists can come and go to serve patient needs," said Gemming. "We want patients to have a central location where we can develop a hub for the services they need." This includes eliminating time spent in the waiting room by using digital diagnosis information and a growing telemedicine program.
The end goal for Gemming is to create a seamless, service-oriented experience where patients will want to come for care. "When they drive by a WCMG sign, I want patients to know exactly what to expect and feel like we know them and their needs well," said Gemming.
The office is located at 170 Mount Pleasant Road in Newtown. For questions or to make an appointment, call 203-426-1818.