Leon Medical Centers: Benjamin Le

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Leon Medical Centers

by Tracy Million Simmons

You receive a phone call letting you know your bus is about ten minutes away. Your driver comes to your door and walks you out, making sure you are buckled safely in the vehicle before pulling away from the curb. Upon arrival at a building strongly resembling a five-star hotel, beautifully landscaped with soothing water fountains on display, doorman in uniform wearing white gloves greets you. A woman meets you in the lobby and walks you to your destination.

It’s not your favorite spa or Disney World, but you have arrived for your regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment. You have arrived at Leon Medical Centers in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Leon Medical Centers is a true healthcare management organization; most everything a client needs is under one roof. For hospitals and specialty services that are not available in-house, Leon utilizes community resources on a partnership basis. The five facilities are referred to as Super Centers, and all include primary care physicians, as well as the basic core specialties. They also include a walk-in clinic, a dental clinic, ophthalmology clinics, and in-house pharmacies.

The first of the organization’s Super Centers was built in 1996. Two more centers are slated to open later this year, and another two to be completed by 2011 and 2012. However, the company’s origins go back to the early 1960s when Cuban immigrants were coming into Florida in much larger numbers than had been anticipated. “There were not enough resources, physicians, or accessibility to the healthcare system,” says Benjamín León, Jr., founder and CEO of Leon Medical Centers. “Led by my late father, we pioneered the HMO concept in the state of Florida. We were one of the very first states in the union to adopt the act of HMO as of October 1, 1972. We have license number one, the first license given by the state of Florida.”

Personal Attention at All Times

León began his work in healthcare under his father. His focus was on an issue that he was very passionate about – customer service. “I’ve always loved and have had a very deep inclination to believe that, in any language, to know how to live is to know how to do [customer service]. To know what you want to receive is to know how to give it,” says León, who started the company from scratch. “It was very difficult, like any organization you start from nothing. At the same time, it gives you a lot of latitude and opportunity to do things right. There is only one time to do things right, and that’s the first time. If you don’t, you spend the rest of the time trying to make right what you didn’t do right the first time.”

For León, doing things right means providing the ultimate in customer service experience for the senior population Leon Medical Centers serves. About two-thirds of the 28,000 clients utilize the free transportation services provided by the organization. A fleet of more than 120 buses runs daily. The company has its own service station, body shop and in-house mechanic to maintain the fleet. The personal attention goes beyond just getting clients to the door, however.

Leon Medical Centers has welcome stations at all core hospitals used by Leon patients in Miami-Dade County. Whether a person is coming to a Leon facility for a regular checkup or appointment, or entering an area hospital for more extensive tests or an overnight stay, a Leon service representative is always on hand to make sure that patient is welcomed, as well as personally taken to the exact area of the hospital or facility where they need to be.

For overnight stays, Leon representatives are always only a phone call away.

“If there is anything wrong according to patient opinion, our service specialists go immediately and see that patient. From the service point of view, [our representatives] address the problem with the person responsible on the floor or elevate it to the highest level that need be. Service should be impeccable and patients will be treated at all times with dignity and respect … not only in our facilities, but in the entire system,” says León.

No patient leaves an office without a follow-up appointment. It doesn’t matter if a client needs physical therapy three times a week, twice a week, or every day. Leon’s commitment to personal attention at all times assures every patient that there will be a bus there waiting, a person greeting them at the door, an usher walking them to their destination, and a person on the other end of the phone waiting to take their call and help them solve any problems they might have.

Serving Healthcare Needs by Demographic

León also believes that the best way to meet the needs of healthcare is to focus on catering to a same-age population. Leon Medical Centers serves the senior Medicare population. “I’m 64 years old,” says León, “so next year I’ll be one of my clients.”

“I think every country should be judged by the way they care for the elderly who paved the way for us to be where we are. That’s why I chose Medicare, to specialize in one age group. We can do more for people when we specialize.”

“We have the opportunity of really managing the care of the patient because we are the providers,” says León. He emphasizes that though the physicians work as employees of the company, they also know that it is their job to take care of the patient. The company simply supports the doctors and the patients to help them best manage the care. “We do not interfere in the doctor and patient relationship. We do not make decisions for the physicians. They take care of their patient, and allow me and my management staff to take care of our company. We are here to support the physicians, who are here to help our clients.”

So the company helps by focusing on patient management, getting the patients to their appointments on time, making sure that patients are happy with their level of service, and equipping the doctors with what they need to do the best job possible.

Leading Healthcare with Leading Technology

When León was young, his father encouraged him to gain skills with computers. He is grateful for that wisdom and believes in keeping his medical centers versed in the best advances in technology. “Our facilities have CAT scans, sonograms, echocardiograms, EKGs … we need to provide all the tools to our physicians so they can make the right call. Our goal is to maintain our patients at the highest quality levels of medicine that a human being could expect in this country.”

The company has just completed the first phase of incorporating NexGen Healthcare software for their medical records and business management practices. They have been working on building the foundation and customizing the system to work with, for instance, their transportation system and customer follow-up needs. León expects it to be polished, tweaked, and up and running by the first quarter of next year.

The company has always operated via a single paper record for all patients, and León looks forward to the electronic version speeding up the process for physicians and simply increasing efficiency overall. All physicians dealing with each patient will know exactly what medications are being taken and what tests have been performed, as well as have access to the results. The approach eliminates waste, according to León. There will be no duplicate or triplicate prescriptions sitting in closets at people’s homes. There will be no emergency visits because a prescription lapsed and a patient’s condition worsens to the point that they need emergency medical attention. The service center follows up with every client to make sure customer service was exemplary and satisfaction is being met or exceeded.

His emphasis on technology has given Leon employees the advantage of being capable of managing thousands of contacts per day. “Not a single patient is forgotten,” says León. “In the case that we find that the patient has any different thoughts, or we find that things are not perfect, we handle it immediately.”

Showing the Healthcare Industry How to Satisfy Clients

León says his company boasts of one of the highest client retention rates in the southeast United States, and possibly in the country. At least partly, he attributes his excellence of service program, which he brought from the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain and polished and customized to fit his healthcare company’s needs.

But mostly he believes in the concept of managed healthcare. “The concept is talked about so frequently … preventative care and early detection. It really works. If you are really right on top of the patient and can provide like we are doing … we can show that it works,” he says. “I really believe in our system. If it is not the best, it is one of the very best ways to do it.”

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