The goal of healthcare organizations is to provide excellent services to patients, but how can leaders be sure they truly understand the end-to-end patient experience? Organizations typically use surveys such as HCAHPS to measure patient experience, but these surveys do not tell the whole story. The HCAHPS survey focuses primarily on clinical care, and does not take into account the non-clinical aspects of the patient experience, such as making appointments and billing.
Research shows that the majority of patient complaints – 96% – are related to their overall experience with a healthcare provider, not their clinical care (see “Hard Internet Truths: 34,748 Online Reviews Reveal What Patients Really Want from Doctors,” The Journal of Medical Practice Management here). If healthcare leaders do not have insight into the non-clinical patient experience, they have a significant blind spot that could be causing them to lose patients to competitors. Children’s Hospital Colorado is one organization where leaders understood there. was room for improvement with the non-clinical patient experience.
“We noticed our patient-family survey results were starting to reflect poor customer service experiences. Not necessarily with the providers or with the nurses, but with the front-end staff,” said Matt Wollbrinck, talent development trainer at Children’s Colorado. “We had a few one-star reviews praising the docs and the nurses, but blasting the front desk staff – the revenue cycle staff – for a noticeable lack of social sensitivity.”
The following is a summary of HBI’s engagement with Children’s Colorado and how the hospital’s revenue cycle team made remarkable improvements in customer service. Click here to learn more about customer service training Children’s Colorado, and to download a detailed version of this case study.
Creating a Tailored Learning Workshop
HBI’s learning project lead Noelle Wysocki has previously written on this blog about our approach to customer service training. Click here to read her post, “You Changed My Mind – Empathy Can Be Taught,” which describes the techniques that proved effective at Children’s Colorado. One key lesson is that training on empathy not only results in better customer service but also improves employees’ relationships with each other.
With this approach in mind, HBI worked with Children’s Colorado to audit the patient experience, develop customized training on customer service skills for front-end staff, and measure the impact of that training to ensure sustainability. HBI used a three-step methodology: Assess, Create and Deliver, and Measure and Sustain.
Assess: HBI made 105 secret shopper phone calls to 18 departments across the organization. The calls assessed staff on five elements: Phone Access, Courtesy and Professionalism, Empathy and Caring, Inquiry, and Resolution, and Overall Impression. Separately, HBI surveyed Children’s Colorado’s front-line team members on their needs and challenges. That survey found opportunities for improvement in showing empathy, solving problems, and managing high-stress situations.
Create and Deliver: HBI launched a face-to-face workshop with learning objectives and activities designed to enhance the ability of staff to have empathetic and effective communication internally and externally. Over eight weeks, HBI trained 849 team members in 39 sessions.
Measure and Sustain: To learn if the training had an impact on the patient experience, HBI conducted another round of secret shopper calls. Those calls round that HBI did move the needle – improving the score for Empathy and Caring by 10%, Inquiry and Resolution by 16%, and the Overall Impression or likelihood to recommend by 9%. Furthermore, HBI did not just come for eight weeks and then leave Children’s Colorado on its own. HBI offered ongoing support after the training to ensure the needle continued to move.
“Some of our people said it was the absolute best training that they’ve ever had here at Children’s Colorado,” said Wollbrinck.
For leaders concerned that they are not getting the full view of the end-to-end patient experience, Colorado Children’s shows how auditing the patient experience can result in tangible improvements. HBI’s methodology of Assess, Create and Deliver, and Measure and Sustain can help other organizations achieve their patient experience goals.
Want to know more about HBI’s patient experience solutions? Fill out the form below to connect with our team!