How can I increase my power of absorption

Hospital Marketing: Ward Management, Gütersloh Clinic

Reference contact person: Maud Beste, Managing Director Klinikum Gütersloh, 2012-2013


The Gütersloh Clinic is a center of care, with 474 beds in 13 subjects. In 2010 the Gütersloh Clinic was converted into a GmbH. With the appointment of a new management, the prerequisites were then created to develop into the leading healthcare provider in the Gütersloh region.

One concern is particularly important to the management: The change to networked processes requires a healthy balance between the needs of patients and employees and the requirements of the organization in terms of security, liability and responsibility.


Under the motto “Design inside to have an external effect”, we first checked the internal structures and processes. The reason for this was, among other things, the results of the patient survey, which were noticeably far behind the results in other areas of the house, as well as a number of very specific complaints from patients about the organization of processes and cooperation on the ward. In addition, there was a high level of dissatisfaction among employees who complained about similar points. The aim was to fix the internal malfunctions and build a positive image externally.

Recommendations from clinics are made by referring physicians, patients and relatives - in a positive as well as a negative way. In the age of the Internet and its rating forums, these spread much faster and consistently reach a wider audience than before. This is a great opportunity in the case of positive recommendations, but it is devastating in the case of complaints.

The perception of good quality arises from a permanent comparison between the reality expected by the customer and the reality found. In addition to the success of the treatment, it is above all the communication and attention of the employees and the processes that are evaluated by the patients.

A reorganization of the service and communication processes on the ward is a way to create your own radiance and image. Only when the substructure is in place can the brand be successfully promoted using the usual marketing tools such as flyers, brochures, websites, certificates, referral visits, patient events and the like. consciously to make it tangible and to encourage recommendations.

With the eyes of the patient, we therefore held shady days in the clinic, during which we went through the processes and accompanied the employees. After the first shadowy days, an analysis of the processes and results as well as the discussion of the employee survey, we held a strategy retreat in order to present this and to develop the cornerstones for the new ward concept. In addition to communication, the main issues were unreliable visit times, admissions and discharges and bed shortages. In the strategy meeting, central values ​​were finally defined as cornerstones for the new conception of the station. This primarily includes:

  • Establishing an interprofessional management team
  • Introduction of interlinked daily routines
  • Establishing support functions (e.g. intake force)
  • Conducting joint visits at defined times
  • Optimization of admission and discharge planning with discharge time 9 a.m.

In addition, it was defined for the most important process points who accesses the patient, when and with what information - from the information about the exact time of admission to the time of discharge. The processes should reflect the values ​​of "calm", "security", "transparency" and "devotion".

The processes and regulations were recorded in a handbook, which was signed by the members of the management team in a binding manner for their professional group. Then the employees were prepared early for the upcoming changes in information events. Surveys and employee interviews were intensified in order to deal with conflicts in change. The implementation and stabilization of the processes were accompanied by the management team and reflected on together with us on a monthly basis. If necessary, changes were made to the new processes and, after an appropriate pilot phase, reassessed by the management team.


The quote from a returning patient clearly illustrates the success of the measures: “... Something has changed here on the ward - it seems to me as if I were on a different ward. But it's the same employees who treat me here. The processes are much quieter and more organized - what do you do differently? "

This success can also be demonstrated in a measurable way:

  • In a patient survey during the implementation, all 20 patients questioned praised the friendliness, helpfulness and commitment of the staff at the ward. A returning patient stated that she noticed noticeable changes in the processes.
  • In an employee survey in the implementation phase, 100% of the employees questioned rated the questions “I enjoy my daily work” and “I feel supported by the new processes” with a positive school grade (better than 2.5).

After just 3 months, the following improvements could be registered in the key figures:

  • The number of layoffs before 11:00 a.m. could be tripled.
  • At the beginning of the implementation, the average length of stay in the DRG catalog in the top 12 DRGs of the ward was exceeded. After 3 months, seven of the top 12 DRGs were even below the average length of stay. Overall, the length of stay on the ward could be reduced by 0.5 days in a short time.
  • The occupancy rate decreased by 0.7 beds without any impact on the economic result. As a result, the success of the length of stay management means a relief of the occupancy management and a resolution of the bed bottlenecks on the ward.