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This year’s STARS Awards program was open for a six week period during the summer/early fall of 2013. Twenty-eight (28) program entries were submitted by 11 departments. In addition, fourteen (14) employee suggestions were received.

The program review process included two teams comprised of County representatives evaluating entries based on set criteria. The programs with the highest score in each category have been recommended for a STARS Award. These programs were presented to Executive Council on November 25th.

Employee suggestions were received online and then reviewed by appropriate departments for review. There is one suggestion that is being considered for possible implementation.

The following includes a description of this year’s STARS Awards nominees:

Customer Service Award

Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office’s Live Chat (Award Amount: $5,000) – The Live Chat program allows customers to connect with County staff via the Internet. When customers submit a message via the chat program, a message is received by Tax Collector’s Office. Staff can view who is requesting assistance, what they are requesting, and then respond. All staff members are signed onto the system, and any available staff member can pick up the chat to assist the customer. The innovative program eliminates wait time for customers and provides an alternative, more streamlined service option for customers who prefer using the web or do not want to cycle through an interactive voice response system. Customer feedback regarding the Live Chat functionality has been positive. San Mateo County is currently the only county in California offering this service.

Health System/San Mateo Medical Center’s Patient Experience Project at Willow Clinic (Award Amount: $5,000) – SMMC established a patient experience improvement committee, comprised of clinic staff including doctors, nurses, clinic managers, and front line personnel, at Willow Clinic to identify opportunities to improve the clinic’s patient experience scores. The committee implemented a new health- centered customer service training called AIDET and combined it with a review of SMMC’s Service Commitments (10 commitments on how employees treat each other in the workplace and 10 commitments on how to treat patients). Willow Clinic staff have been trained using AIDET and the SMMC Service Commitments, resulting in a 9.2% increase in patient satisfaction scores (from 85% in April 2012 to 94.2% in June 2013).

Program Performance Award

Health System’s Kaizen Promotion Office (Award Amount: $20,000) – The “Lean Transformation Program” focuses on fostering a culture of strategic and continuous process improvement within the Health System. The Kaizen Promotion Office (KPO) supports and guides the Health System and its leaders by providing tools, direction, and strategic technical assistance. During the last two years, more than 350 staff members have participated in Kaizen events and 140 employees have participated in certification trainings. There have been several Kaizen/Lean process improvement events including: Adult Return Visits in Primary Care; Acute Psychiatry; Pharmacy; SMMC Revenue Cycle; Operating Room; Patient Safety; Emergency Room; new Patient Access; Aging and Adult Services IHSS program; and BHRS Revenue Cycle. Since the program was implemented, the Health System has seen significant improvements in many areas, e.g., 55% reduction in waiting time for primary care new patient appointments, increases in the percentage of patients receiving visit summaries (increased by 30%), and reductions in costs.

Child Support’s Performance Management (Award Amount: $20,000) – To further enhance a culture of high performance, the Department implemented electronic program performance management tools - Case Management Tool (CMT) and the Goal Calculator. These tools provide the Department with the ability to organize, prioritize, modify, and target caseloads, thus increasing efficiency and responsiveness. These program performance tools have assisted Child Support Services improve performance in all its key measures:

  • % of cases with child support orders: 86% FY 10 to 92% FY 13
  • % of current support collected: 60% FY 10 to 67% FY 13
  • % of cases with arrears collection: 65% FY 10 to 70% FY 13
  • Maintained/Distributed collections: $30 million

Honorable Mentions:

  • Probation’s Veterans Treatment Court ($7,500),
  • Human Resources’ Regional Training Consortium for Public Agencies ($7,500),
  • Health System/Behavioral Health Recovery Services’ Total Wellness ($7,500).

Green Award

Public Works’ Strategic Energy Master Plan/Hall of Justice (Award Amount: $5,000) – The Department of Public Works (DPW) implemented energy improvement projects in the Hall of Justice Building (400 County Center) including replacing outdated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, changing out old, inefficient and polluting boilers and pumps, and installing new water flow restrictors/aerators in faucets. In December 2012, the Board of Supervisors adopted the Strategic Energy Master Plan (SEMP) for County facilities. SEMP establishes energy reduction goals, recommends specific energy conservation projects, identifies the projects’ estimated budgets, and calculates savings in energy usage and charges. As a result of these energy efficiency projects, from FY 09-10 to FY 12-13, electrical usage in kWh decreased by 18.4%, and gas usage saw a reduction of 80.4%. Greenhouse gas emissions also decreased by 55.2% and the HOJ’s Energy Star score rose from 48 to 83.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Health System/Environmental Health’s Regional Approach to ReUsable Bag Ordinance ($1,500);
  • County Manager’s Office’s Board Agenda Process ($1,500); and
  • Sheriff’s Office Maple Street Complex Greening Project ($1,500).

Employee Suggestion Award

Employee: Marina Yu, Housing Department

Suggestion (Recommended for Further Review): Explore the feasibility of having departments establish community service activities for its employees, allowing for enhanced teamwork and volunteerism, while contributing to the greater community. ($100)

The San Mateo STARS Awards Program contributes to Shared Vision 2025 of a Collaborative Community by recognizing County programs and employees that improve County effectiveness and efficiencies.