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CX in Healthcare

Release Date: February 23, 2021 • Episode #154

Arguably, healthcare is a unique industry in which lives literally are on the line. So how do healthcare companies and providers plan and execute customer – or in this case, “patient” – experience? Host Steve Walker welcomes guest Patty Riskind, head of global healthcare at Qualtrics, an experience management company, to discuss the importance of gathering feedback to help both the patients and the front-line of the healthcare workforce.

Patty Riskind

Patty Riskind
Qualtrics
Connect with Patty

Highlights

How does healthcare measure experience now?

“They use an instrument called HCAHPS, which is hospital consumer assessment of health care providers and systems. And it is a standard survey instrument which primarily measures consistency… So there’s a standard set of questions that’s administered and they still use only paper mail surveys as well as phone surveys. And the industry is incented to perform well on those surveys because how they perform is tied to reimbursement by Medicare. So the industry has been measuring patient experience, but I haven’t seen the bar move dramatically in over a decade. And so now I think the real opportunity is to say, yes, you have these standard surveys that are measuring things consistently, but how do you actually move the needle? And I’m a believer you do that by better understanding the patient journey.”

Healthcare is personal, so empathy is important

“Health care is is personal. And we each, unfortunately, have our vulnerable moments when we don’t feel well and we’re sick and we need to seek care. And so in health care, especially with health care providers, there is a level of vulnerability and exposure that a patient has when they’re seeking care. So trying to make sure that care is delivered in a way that makes sense, that puts the caregiver in the patient’s shoes, so they’re empathetic and compassionate in terms of understanding the fear or the uncertainty that a patient might have and then really trying to deliver treatment and communicate what those next steps are in a way that someone can understand who maybe doesn’t work in the industry is super important.”

But what about privacy?

“…I do think that privacy, confidentiality, security is of the utmost. And I also believe there’s ways to do it where you respect a patient’s privacy, but you also garner insights that are going to really help make future experiences better. So there’s high trust HIPPA, there’s different certifications to ensure that the data that’s being collected is being kept safe, private, confidential.”

Transcript

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Steve:
Few things in our lives are more personal than our health or the health of our loved ones.

Patty:
It's so important to capture information that's going to help empower the people who deliver care so that they can put themselves in the patient's shoes so they can understand how important it is to help the patients understand what they're supposed to do next.

Steve:
Exploring customer experience in the health care industry. On this episode of The CX Leader Podcast.

Announcer:
The CX Leader Podcast with Steve Walker is produced by Walker, an experience management firm that helps our clients accelerate their XM success. You can find out more at Walkerinfo.com.

Steve:
Hello, everyone. I'm Steve Walker, host The CX Leader Podcast and thank you for listening. On The CX Leader Podcast we explore topics and themes to help leaders like you leverage all the benefits of your customer experience and help your customers and prospects want to do more business with you. We often explore customer experience from the lens of a corporate entity, a company that produces a product or provides a service to customers or clients. Arguably, health care is a unique industry in which lives literally are on the line. So how do health care companies and providers plan and execute customer or in this case, patient experience? Patty Riskind is the head of global health care at Qualtrics, an experience management company and a company that we're proud to be partnered with here at Walker, and she's going to give us a much broader look into the business of customer experience and how CX functions in the health care environment. Patty, thanks for being a guest on the podcast this week.

Patty:
Great to be with you.

Steve:
Well, I know who you are, and obviously we're very proud of our association with Qualtrics. It's a company I've been very close to for the last three and a half, four years and watched in awe with all the fantastic things that Qualtrics has done. But just for the benefit of our listeners, you have quite a pedigree in the health care space and CX. So just give us a little bit of your background and how you get to Qualtrics and really how you became interested in this topic of CX for health care.

Patty:
All right. Well, I worked in the health care data analytics technology experience industry for over 30 years. And I actually was the founder of CX company called Patient Impact, which focused on capturing feedback from patients who visited an imaging center or a lab or an ambulatory surgery center or a medical practice a doctor, and ended up growing that business and then selling it to a company called Press Ganey, which is one of the largest patient satisfaction survey companies in the health care industry. And I was there as their chief experience officer for eight years, and I ended up leaving in 2016 and bounced around a little bit. And then Qualtrics came calling and I joined Qualtrics in 2018 to really build their health care business. And so I work with health care providers, payers and Lifesciences at Qualtrics, and our goal is to help improve the patient or the member or the consumer experience, as well as the employee experience, brand experience and product experience and health care. So I've been around a while. I understand the space and my higher calling is really to try and improve the patient experience and empower the providers and caregivers with information that's going to help them deliver a better patient experience and enjoy their jobs and bring joy to the work that they're doing.

Steve:
Yeah, we'll get to Qualtrics in kind of what the state of the art is today, a little bit later. But, you know, the intro we talked about about how personal health care is to all of us when I've tried to describe customer experience to friends or colleagues of mine, you know, the more personal, the more intimate that the product or service that you're using, the more important the experience is. Like you think about building your own home, taking a family vacation on a cruise ship or something like that. These experiences, they have to just be awesome because there's so much at stake and there's so much tied to it. But I for the life of me, can't think of anything that's more personal than health care. And then you layer on that how complex the business is. So how do you think of the customer experience in terms of health care? Why is this such a big deal?

Patty:
Well, you're you're exactly right. Health care is is personal. And we each, unfortunately, have our vulnerable, vulnerable moments when we don't feel well and we're sick and we need to seek care. And so in health care, especially with health care providers, there is a level of vulnerability and exposure that a patient has when they're seeking care. So trying to make sure that care is delivered in a way that makes sense, that puts the caregiver in the patient's shoes, so they're empathetic and compassionate in terms of understanding the fear or the uncertainty that a patient might have and then really trying to deliver treatment and communicate what those next steps are in a way that someone can understand who maybe doesn't work in the industry is super important. And I think that what tends to happen, because when you're seeing a lot of patients or when you're working in health care and you're going through your day, you can sometimes forget that you are dealing with individuals who could be very scared about what's happening to them or feeling ambiguous because they don't know what to do. So it's so important to capture information that's going to help empower the people who deliver care so that they can put themselves in the patient's shoes. So they can understand how important it is to take the time to help people understand, help the patients understand what they're supposed to do or how their treatment is going to progress or what they should do next. I originally decided to start my little company because I had a baby and how I picked an OB/GYN was asking my mother, asking my friends who I should go see, and there was no information. And so as a result, I was like, we really need some kind of consumer reports for health care to help us really understand who the best providers are or who has the most efficient practice or how many… what's the volume of procedures that a certain surgeon or whomever might do. And so as a result, I started, what, 15, 20 years ago saying this is really important and we need to measure it not only from a quality perspective, but also from a patient's perspective, in terms of what does a consumer need to know in order to make informed decisions and then how do you drive business or reward those who do a great job in terms of communicating, in terms of delivering care and in terms of really making the patient, treating the whole patient and making them feel heard and cared for. So I think we in… health care is a slow industry to change. And I think that while the industry recognizes how important it is to measure the patient experience, it's how do you actually act on it? How do you actually turn it into something that's going to make a difference? For each individual patient and for the industry as a whole, so I do think that that there's opportunities to continuously improve and continuously learn, taking advantage of the resources that can be brought to bear, to gain insight and then figuring out what to do about what you learn is really critical in order to continuously improve in the space.

Steve:
Yeah, with your experience and you've seen this and I think you said it, it's a difficult industry to to change quickly. And there's a lot of reasons for that. But just for the purposes of those of us that don't track it as closely, where have you seen some progress over your career in terms of using this kind of information to improve the patient experience?

Patty:
Also, I've actually lived it probably. [laughing] So before so I started my little business in 2004 and ended up selling to Press Ganey in 2009. And at that point in time, I really brought electronic survey to a paper survey business. So historically, most surveys administered in the health care industry were done by phone or by mail. And so it really wasn't until 2009 that using email as a mechanism for outreach, which became widespread and as a result, not enough data was collected and not enough insight was absorbed by health systems, probably is the right way to put it now. Regulatory surveys, we have Medicare that requires hospitals to measure. They use an instrument called HCAHPS, which is hospital consumer assessment of health care providers and systems. And it is a standard survey instrument which primarily measures consistency. So how consistent did the nurses listen to you or did the doctors treat you with respect? So there's a standard set of questions that's administered and they still use only paper mail surveys as well as phone surveys. And the industry is incented to perform well on those surveys because how they perform is tied to reimbursement by Medicare. So the industry has been measuring patient experience, but I haven't seen the bar move dramatically in over a decade. And so now I think the real opportunity is to say, yes, you have these standard surveys that are measuring things consistently, but how do you actually move the needle? And I'm a believer you do that by better understanding the patient journey. And what are those moments that matter and what are those touch points to gain real insight into what you can do differently. So catching the patient in the moment where they are using the right mechanism to reach them and then asking questions that might be truly specific to that patient's demographic or to their diagnosis or to the side of care in which they're being seen, is going to engage in a different way. That's going to really provide insights into what to do differently and how to better deliver care, how to better communicate, how to better follow up. And so I see opportunities in the industry for dramatic change because you're going to empower the front line with information they can really use. And then it goes back to making the people who work in health care feel valued and heard and equipped with the right information in order to be more effective.

Steve:
So, yeah, what you're describing, I think, is really kind of the ideal scenario for those of us in the in the CX profession that, you know, it's not simply kind of a check the box type of survey, but it's critical management information that is broadly used in the organization. And people use it to make decisions and use it to allocate resources. But I think historically, particularly in health care, there's always been this tension between privacy and what data can be shared. And I wonder if some of that pushback wasn't a little bit overdone. I mean, I know health care is certainly a place where we got to be careful with privacy, but in order to really get to outcomes in health care, you really got to know how the patient feels, right?

Patty:
Yes. And I, I do think that privacy, confidentiality, security is is the utmost. And I also believe there's ways to do it where you respect a patient's privacy, but you also garner insights that are going to really help make future experiences better. So there's high trust HIPPA, there's different certifications to ensure that the data that's being collected is being kept safe, private, confidential. And I do think we as an industry have learned how to accommodate that and to work through it while also at the same time really helping these health care organizations improve and deliver better care.

Steve:
You mentioned the patient journey in getting the information at the right time from the right person in the right format. How some of that different in health care and what are you doing to maximize some of those?

Patty:
Well, so Qualtrics has a solution called Health Connect, which is an integration with electronic medical record systems. And so we've created a way that allows someone who's administering the surveys to take advantage of the information that is captured in these electronic medical record systems and create I'll call it like a tunnel between the EMR and Qualtrics and so that they can pick specific criteria that could trigger a survey. So, for example, say it's a maternity patient. Let's pick on mothers who are between the ages of thirty five and forty five and they have a normal delivery. We want to ask questions comparing we'll call it the older mom compared to the younger mom so you can administer surveys that are very specific to that demographic with that diagnosis and get feedback that can help you better understand. All right. This is what I need to communicate to my first time young moms. This is what I need to communicate to my seasoned "this is my third child" older mom. So you can get really specific in terms of what to ask and what's going to resonate. And in health care, 75% of the health care decisions are made by the female head of household. So if you are able to connect with a new mom, you potentially create a lifetime relationship with that hospital or that health system. So you do want to figure out how do I get it right and then how do I then foster that relationship over time? So as the kids grow up and the visits to the emergency room or whatever, you want to make that patient in that household feel known. And so by capitalizing on the data that you've collected in the past in order to customize the outreach as you go forward, becomes a way of bonding and a way of creating and fostering loyalty from that household.

Steve:
I want to take a moment to tell you about Walker's new report, "Next Level CX for B2B Companies," which focuses on helping B2B companies rise to the next level of their CX excellence. Walker collaborated with the Qualtrics XM Institute and discovered some insightful conclusions about CX maturity and how B2B is performing compared to B to C. Download the report for free today at cxleaderpodcast.com/nextlevelcx.

Steve:
My guest on the podcast this week is Patty Riskind, the head of Global Health Care at Qualtrics and she is giving us a fascinating discussion about how CX is changing inside the health care industry. Patty, there's a couple things I think that are contemporary with the world today that are particularly relevant to health care. One would be the pandemic, the COVID pandemic. What's COVID done to the patient experience? And in particular, I know Qualtrics has done a lot in this space, but what do you think has been the impact just sort of in terms of how we had to respond to the pandemic and then what would be the kind of the ongoing impact that will probably change the way we think about this for forever?

Patty:
Well, health care has certainly been in the crosshairs of COVID-19, and we've seen it both in in the hospitals who have been inundated with COVID patients and having to when we talk about the curve, in large part, we're doing it to try and save our health care workers because they've been so inundated. So there's there's also so that's the the overwhelming part. But there's also been a large part of the industry that has been adversely affected in terms of patients not seeking care. So, you know, procedures have been postponed and people are afraid to go into a health care setting because of it. So as a result, we've seen telehealth explode. So we have one client who was doing around fifteen hundred virtual visits a month and then COVID hit and they went to sixty five thousand visits per month. And so one thing that's definitely been a result of COVID is the embracing technology to really leverage it, to allow patients to do video or telephonic visits and that providers get reimbursed for it. So I see that as something that's not going away. And it's while while both patients and providers have had to adjust to a Zoom visit, I think that we all have in all walks of our lives that have now figured out how can we do business online versus in person. And while I don't think in-person visits are going to disappear altogether, I do think that telehealth creates another channel which the industry had not probably invested in or had thought was going to grow at the pace that it grew because of the pandemic.

Steve:
It Qualtrics you guys have done some really innovative things around COVID and actually tailoring the solution for organizations to help manage that. Can you just describe that a little bit? Because I know we've been involved with you a little bit on that. And I just think it's a fascinating for those of us that have been data collectors for most of our career, it's kind of a fascinating way to to leverage the technology.

Patty:
Yeah, we really I have to say, I am proud to work for Qualtrics because what we did when COVID hit was remarkable and we spun up 10 different products in the span of two weeks. And for health care specifically, we created a symptom tracker that a hospital, a public health entity, could put a URL on their website. They click through and then click, click, click, click through the symptoms. And if it sounds like you have COVID routing patients one place or another, we created a testing solution where we partnered with organizations for scheduling and for distribution of COVID tests. We created call center scripting. So when call centers, we're getting bombarded with questions from consumers figuring out how to get more people onto call centers fast who have been to work from home by using Qualtrics forms as a mechanism for scripts and corresponding branching logic to make sure that they knew how to triage patients accordingly. And then we did a big workforce, especially in health care workforce pulse, to help us understand what communication, what resources, what issues were those on the front line and those that were potentially furloughed, what were they facing? How are they handling it? So we actually save the day in many cases. I personally worked on a number of international global health programs and we helped countries like Tunisia and South Africa and Sweden stand up their COVID, I'll call it response, in terms of helping to manage expectations and route patients accordingly. And today, we're working on a number of solutions to help enhance the vaccine distribution process. So looking at especially with health care providers who oftentimes have you know, they've been administering flu shots, so they've got systems set up. But now the numbers that we're talking, what do we need to think about in terms of how to schedule, how to prioritize, how to do the follow up, how to ensure post-vaccine that if there's any kind of adverse event or reaction to the vaccine, how do you follow up with it? So Qualtrics is filling in a lot of the the gaps that might exist to complement existing programs. And in some cases, we're helping organizations stand up entire vaccine workflows. So it's been incredible.

Steve:
Yeah, I think we all know what a huge part of the economy health care is. And there's a lot of demographic drivers that are going to make people can live with chronic diseases. People are living longer. People want to live longer. How do you see the future of in particular of CX pros in the health care field and in what gets you up and at 'em every day?

Patty:
So I give you CX as a way of doing business. And I think for me, historically in health care, measuring patient experience was a box that you would check and that you would look at the numbers and you would say, how do I rank or compare? And I'll say it was it was measurement. It wasn't a way to take action. And it served as a it's on the to do list. Let's just leave it at that. And I think where I see things going is it really becomes a way to manage your business and that every morning you wake up and you want to know what happened yesterday. And and I see. So there's precision medicine, which is figuring out how to treat individuals for particular diseases. And I look at precision CX and how are we going to tap into the workflows and the processes for delivering care and figure out how to raise the bar and how to make it better. So drilling in and really using specific questions and outreach to gain insight that are going to make a meaningful difference to both the patient and to those delivering care is where I, I see us going. And by doing that, when you address, everyone's worried about survey fatigue. So instead of sending people long surveys, let's send them very short and very impactful questions to help cull out exactly what action we can take, that is really going to make a difference.

Steve:
Well, Patty Riskind, we've reached that part of the podcast where I always ask every guest to give our listeners their best tip. We call it take home value. And this is really something that you want the listeners to take from the time we've spent together. And and ideally, it's something that they can leverage and use as CX pros to to improve what they're already doing or maybe improve the work that they're doing with their customers or their stakeholders. So, Patty, what is your take home value today?

Patty:
So my take home value is really effective patient experience programs enlist the people on the front line, asking the front line, asking the receptionist what they need to know to help them do their job better, asking the nurse, asking the physician assistant, asking the doctor, what is it that you really want to know about this encounter with the patient that's going to help you do your job better and then use those questions in the outreach to the patient? Typically, the front line knows what's wrong and they know what to do differently. So my big tip is enlist them, empower them, give them the freedom to say, gosh, if I only knew this, it would really make a difference. So I'm a big advocate for bring the team in and help them in the survey design.

Steve:
Patty Riskind is the head of global health care at Qualtrics an experience management company and a great partner here of ours at Walker. Patty, thanks a lot for being a guest on the podcast. I really enjoyed having you on.

Patty:
All right. Thank you, Steve. It's been a pleasure.

Steve:
And if anybody would want to continue the dialog, can they find you, like, on LinkedIn or…

Patty:
Yes, I'm on LinkedIn under Patty Riskind and my email is pattyr@Qualtrics.com?

Steve:
And if you guys want to talk about anything that you heard on this podcast or about how Walker can help your business customer experience, feel free to email me at a podcast@walkerinfo.com. Be sure to check out our website, cxleaderpodcast.com, to subscribe to the show and find all of our previous episodes, podcast series, contact information, and you can even drop us a line, let us know how we're doing or give us an idea you might have for a future podcast. The CX Leader Podcast is a production of Walker. We're an experience management firm that helps companies accelerate their XM success. You can read more about us at Walkerinfo.com. Thanks for listening. And we'll see you again next.

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