Executive Q&A with Matt Chance, Senior Vice President of Operations at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children
Consumerism is still a relatively new word within healthcare—but it’s a word that’s been used more and more within the industry over the past five to ten years. In healthcare, we recognize that consumers in our industry are very different from those in other industries, such as online retail. However, there is a lot we can learn from online retailers like Amazon, which consistently win with their customers.
In this installment of NRC Health’s Executive Q&A, hear from Matt Chance, Senior Vice President of Operations at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, to learn how the organization’s staff are making an emotional connection with their consumers, how they’ve put patients and their families at the forefront since 1921, and how they’re continuing to do it today through a price-transparency care approach.
- How are consumers different in healthcare than in other industries?
When you compare healthcare to other industries, the biggest difference you see is the environment, and how most other companies like Amazon offer a very transactional interaction with the customer. There is no emotional involvement; the purchase is based on pictures, good descriptions, and reviews from other customers; and in a few clicks you can purchase the item you want.
In healthcare, it’s much more of an emotional and personal connection that you make with a patient and their family. Our hospital, for instance, was designed with the intent of creating a space that connected with families. The goal was for it to not look, smell, or feel like a hospital.
The two lower levels were built below street level so that kids don’t have a big imposing building to look at when they drive up. We have a park-like setting, with established trees and a green lawn out front that immediately help reduce stress and anxiety. When you walk into the facility, we have a popcorn machine inside that creates a very welcoming aroma, unlike any other hospital. Of course, it’s also a bright and colorful place, which lightens the mood and puts our patients more at ease.
Outside of the aesthetics of the building, what really sets us apart is the personal connection visitors make with every single member of our staff. Our security guards and parking-lot attendants wave and welcome our patients and their families as they arrive. Our volunteers greet visitors immediately as they walk in the door, and ensure they are headed in the right direction. Our clinical and medical staff recognize patients and their families, and have a relationship with them that builds trust.
These are the environmental details we focus on to help create a unique connection with our consumers, to ensure that their experience is different than in other industries. We consider ourselves a consumer-obsessed organization, and as we evolve, we’re constantly looking for ways to build upon our formula to provide the best experience we can for our patients and their families.
- How does Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children assess whether you are meeting the needs of your consumers?
It’s a multi-faceted approach. We have a number of quantitative reports that we monitor to compare our performance against benchmarks, but we also review qualitative feedback from our families through the comments we receive from NRC Health. We evaluate our provider-level data with NRC Health’s Real-time Feedback reports and provide monthly summaries to each of our providers. Those evaluations help ensure that we are consistently focusing on improvement efforts for either a particular clinic or a provider and their team. We now have a Patient Experience taskforce that’s focused specifically on questions regarding ways we can improve—essentially looking for best practices.
We are always searching for innovative ways to connect with patients and their families, inside and outside of our facility. We encourage families to enroll in our MyChart web portal, so they can register or check lab results before they even arrive at the facility. This platform also gives families the option to securely communicate with their provider teams if they have questions. When they are already feeling anxious and fearful, if they’re able to take care of some of those things before they arrive, it’s one less thing for them to think about while they are here.
We are also connecting with our patients and families via social media. Our medical staff recently conducted a series of Facebook Live sessions, which offer our caregivers an opportunity to educate people on a variety of topics while building trust with patients and families outside of our facility. And our team can see the families posting stories about their experiences and pictures with their favorite doctors. The impact our providers have on these patients becomes very clear.
- Embracing social media is a step toward being more transparent with families. Why do you think healthcare needs to embrace transparency?
There are so many complexities in healthcare already. Patients and their families feel intense emotions when they enter a medical facility. If there are things we can do to strip away any of their concerns and make them more comfortable—like providing transparency of patient-experience data—why not do those things for them? It gives us the opportunity to communicate with our customers, and, if there are any issues, to resolve them and use them as a learning opportunity. Any feedback from patients and their families is a blessing, and we want to hear it, evaluate it, and learn from it.
I think, though, that in healthcare, one of the things we struggle with is price transparency. Any CFO has a hard time explaining their charge master and the formula for determining the price of healthcare services, so it’s ridiculous for us to assume that it makes sense to a patient or family member. We’re aware of that, and we are always making adjustments to become more price-transparent with our families. It allows them to understand exactly what the financial impact on them might be.
“How much is this going to cost me?” is another anxiety families have when they bring their child in for a procedure. Oftentimes they aren’t sure if they’ll be able to afford treatment, or if there will be major sacrifices or budget adjustments required in order for them to pay for it. Recognizing that, we work closely with our patients’ families to help them understand the financial aspects of their child’s care and treatment. We always want to make sure that we can help with their concerns and inform them of the options we have available, so their children can have the care they need. We want to avoid families canceling surgeries because they’re concerned they won’t be able to pay for them. To that end, we’re extremely fortunate to have generous charity programs available for our families to help reduce their financial burden.
It’s just part of our patient-centered culture. Delivering the best patient experience possible is our ultimate goal, and that extends to all aspects of a family’s interaction with Scottish Rite Hospital.
Is your organization customer-obsessed? How are you ensuring that you are meeting the needs of your customers? How is your organization embracing transparency to alleviate anxiety? We want to hear about it! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your interview.