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Executive Q&A with OU Medicine’s Vice President of Patient Experience, Theresa Steckel

NRC Health hosts an annual Symposium for clients and prospects across the country to gather and learn together. This year’s upcoming 25th Annual Symposium will bring together high-performing healthcare professionals from across the U.S. and Canada to celebrate strides in customer and patient experience. In preparation for that event, we wanted to highlight one of our esteemed clients, OU Medicine, whose VP of Patient Experience, Theresa Steckel, will be hosting an interactive networking pediatric luncheon at the Symposium.

  1. Why should someone attend NRC Health’s Symposium?

One of the most important things that we can do in healthcare is to really interact with other people in the industry and find out what’s working well and what’s not. So it’s really that networking piece, and a way to find new best practices, that I get when I attend the NRC Health Symposium. I think that we all have great visions, missions, and goals, and we all deliver great safety and quality care, along with great patient and family experiences. So being able to come together with our peers and share those experiences with each other is very valuable to me.

  1. What strides in patient experience has OU Medicine been making?

Until recently, OU Medicine was part of a large for-profit healthcare organization. Now we’re a free-standing, not-for-profit organization, so we’re focusing on what it means to be locally owned and a not-for-profit, and what our local consumers really want—for instance, what is our market looking for in a healthcare system? We’re a Level One trauma center, we’re a tertiary-care center, and we provide a lot of services to patients that they cannot receive elsewhere. We also think about access, and whether we’re making this easy for, say, customers/patients who live 200 miles away. I think that we’re asking questions of ourselves in a different way, and trying to figure out how we can make things easier for our patients and their families.

  1. How are you better understanding OU Medicine’s customers/patients to shape the experience to meet their needs?

One way that we do this is through NRC Health’s Real-time Feedback. This is one thing that we embraced and transitioned to when we made our move to become a freestanding organization. Real-time has really enabled us to gain information and feedback from our patients quickly, within 48 to 72 hours after their visit. Our response rate has increased to 33% and 50% in some areas, so we’re able to hear from more patients and families about their visits then we ever had before. For me as a leader, getting feedback from our patients is a precious thing. I know I don’t always like to fill out surveys myself, and I know it takes time—and it’s great to know our patients have taken that time out of their day because they care and want to make a difference for future patients at OU Medicine. I think it gives us a responsibility to review that information and make changes, and really provide an avenue for their voices to make a difference.

The other thing that good feedback allows you to see is the patients who really love your health system. So many of our respondents love the services that we provide, we can really see their loyalty to the organization, and it makes it that much more important to us to deliver on that care we’re promising them.

  1. What is OU Medicine currently doing to try and bring together experience and loyalty to keep patients loyal to your brand?

OU Medicine has really tried to make sure that, at no matter what point of entry, when patients or consumers are accessing care at OU Medicine, there is a consistent OU Medicine experience. We are currently working on a couple of ways to better align our business. One way is through our measurement of patient experience—ensuring that we’re utilizing Real-time Feedback to gather quick patient insights. We’re also looking at some physician-leadership positions that will help us enhance how we provide feedback to physicians, and examining how we can use the information we have to better assist or coach physicians.

At an enterprise level, we’re trying to consolidate to one cohesive patient-experience team. The team we’re envisaging will be comprised of clinic and hospital employees, leaders (both bedside caregivers and non-clinical caregivers), and, of course, patients. This will give us a better picture of what’s going on at the bedside, and give us a core team that represents both the hospital and the clinic.

Theresa highly values her time and the quality networking opportunities available at the NRC Health Symposium each year, and encourages making the Symposium a regular conference for your team and staff as well. For more information about the Symposium and the opportunity it offers to network with organizations across the country, including the full Symposium agenda and information on how to register, click here.

What strides has your organization made in creating a better patient and customer experience? How is your organization trying to better understand its customers/patients in order to shape experiences to meet their needs? We want to hear about it! Contact us at to schedule your interview today.