- By Sherril Hanson
- May 22, 2023
The use of feedback technology in the healthcare sector is nothing new. Providers have been required to do follow-up surveys for years. However, the broadening view of patient experience (PX), as well as the deepening focus on healthcare employee experience, has been accelerating. I recently interviewed Paul Jaglowski, Chief Strategy Officer of Feedtrail, to discuss the challenges facing experience professionals in the healthcare market and the importance of real-time outreach and engagement throughout the patient journey.
Feedtrail Formed to Focus on and Support Healthcare
Feedtrail is a company that is solely focused on supporting patient, family, and clinician experiences. Its genesis came from co-founders experiencing a combination of frustrating customer experiences – receiving too many feedback outreaches completely after the fact, in addition to less than stellar, impersonal experiences during extended hospital stays.
Jaglowski says, “I traveled quite a bit in my former role as a management consultant. I kept getting surveys from the airlines, car rental companies, or hotels days or weeks after the experience. My first ‘aha’ moment was, why are you asking me after, why not during? My co-founders and myself began working on that simple idea of why aren’t companies engaging with customers during the experience. What can be done better?”
He continues, “Then I had an experience with a loved one in the hospital and we saw firsthand how impersonal some of the interactions were. We got a 35-question generic survey, two to three weeks after discharge with no other check-ins. Healthcare organizations are interacting with you during the most intimate experience that can happen in your life, whether it’s a beautiful experience or a terrifying one. We knew the process could be better. When Feedtrail got its first healthcare clients we noticed that there was so much room for improvement, not just from the vendor lens, but from personalizing the patient and family experience lens. Since 2016, the company has been exclusively focused on healthcare and our solutions are purpose-built to support this segment.”
Healthcare Faces Challenges; Growing Excitement to Leverage Technologies for Improved Engagement
According to Jaglowski, while there are a lot of challenges facing the healthcare industry, the company is consistently hearing that many organizations are still relying on generic post-discharge surveys to build patient trust and loyalty, and understand what really matters to patients and if they are delivering the expected level of quality. However, if a patient is dissatisfied or the family has a concern, what is the care team expected to do about it if they are only learning about it weeks after discharge?
This greatly hinders service recovery because once a patient leaves it is difficult or impossible to address issues. Jaglowski also points out the operations involved in delivering healthcare are vastly different from other industries, and that while some healthcare systems have just a handful of clinics, and others have a couple hundred clinics, most do not have large teams to support PX.
However, that does not mean that interest is low in putting in the time and effort to implement innovative ways to collect feedback.
“Since the company’s inception, the conversations have changed from education about what technologies can be used to engage with patients to a growing receptiveness and excitement about what can be done with feedback technologies,” says Jaglowski. “There are also more CXOs and PXOs that are coming from industries outside of healthcare, bringing innovative energy. We work with healthcare organizations across the spectrum of healthcare, but we have seen a lot of energy recently with physician’s groups and even federally qualified, smaller health centers serving a Medicaid population. They are prioritizing delivering exceptional, personalized patient experiences more and more.”
Engaging Throughout the Whole Patient Journey; Real-Time Outreach Supports Fast Action
Feedtrail offers a digital, web-based software platform that can engage with patients, families, or employees at key moments throughout an experience. This means engagement can happen while they are sitting in the waiting room of an emergency department, or five minutes after a hospital admission, or two days after a surgery when they are stabilized.
Jaglowski walked through an example of a patient showing up at an emergency department and getting a personalized message after checking in. Perhaps there is a state of emergency, resulting in a potentially long wait. The patient can be offered the opportunity to be seen in a non-traditional setting, like a hallway or other area. Not ideal, but at least they are getting a stream of communication and are given options.
The key is sending the right survey at the right time, making it personalized to the stage of the patient journey.
“Many hospitalizations are entirely unexpected from the patient’s lens. For example, when a family has a baby that ends up getting admitted to the NICU, which is often a jolting and unexpected turn of events, the hospital may send a relevant questionnaire or message 48 hours after admission. A week later, a different set of relevant, time-sensitive questions. The point is not to be intrusive, but to engage thoughtfully during the whole process. Patients are interacting with a dozen-plus providers during a longer hospital stay and to get feedback along the journey to make a patient feel supported and heard is game-changing when the historic model was one survey after discharge,” says Jaglowski.
I participated in a brief demonstration where I was able to receive a real-time survey that included a picture of the care provider. After survey submission, the platform was immediately updated, and if a concern was raised, a workflow was triggered so that appropriate staff were alerted to address the concern as soon as possible. The data is not just being sent to a dashboard to be viewed later but is being used throughout the experience to solve problems more quickly.
Passing Along the Positive
Another important aspect of more frequent engagement is the opportunity to send positive patient feedback along to providers. This is particularly important to boost morale with burnout continuing to be a major issue. Feedtrail recently completed a five month workgroup on clinician retention with five healthcare systems which showed 77% of clinicians agreeing that consistently receiving patient kudos reinforced their purpose. All participants saw improvements in the likelihood providers would remain in their profession, increasing 17% on average.
Prioritizing patient experience, if done in a thoughtful and personalized manner, offers the opportunity to deepen relationships and improve care outcomes and satisfaction. Allowing patient voices to be heard while there is still an opportunity to fix the problem before they are out the door is critical.
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