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Missed Symposium this year? Here are some of the highlights—part 2

The first-ever all-virtual Symposium was a landmark event in NRC Health history. Though it would have been nice to see our speakers on the main stage, they still brought an extraordinary amount of insight to the occasion. 

 If you missed your chance to log on, don’t worry. You can still learn from what our presenters had to say.

Here are more highlights from three presentations delivered at Symposium.

Kai D. Wright—Follow the feeling

This year’s keynote speaker was Kai D. Wright, a global consulting partner at Ogilvy and a lecturer at Columbia University. He brought his wealth of out-of-industry expertise to a tricky subject: health-system branding.

Marketing a healthcare organization effectively can be a considerable challenge, Wright emphasized. For one thing, regulations mean that organizations are constrained in what they can promise to consumers in their messaging. For another, healthcare organizations sometimes struggle to find meaningful ways to distinguish their brands from their competitors.

How, then, can healthcare brands stand out? Wright’s answer: by creating emotional connections with consumers.

“High-growth brands know how to utilize every tool to reach their customers on that emotional level,” he said.

He observed how In-N-Out Burger, for example, uses a secretly vocabulary in its menu to turn a simple fast-food meal into a playful experience. Or how companies like McDonald’s, HBO, and NBC have created signature sounds to announce their brand’s presence.

These techniques—lexical triggers and audio cues, respectively—are part of a suite of five strategies brands can use to connect with their customers, the other three being visual stimuli, employee culture, and, most pertinently for healthcare organizations, experience drivers.

Wright pressed the case for finding unique opportunities to add value to customers’ care experiences.

“Look for mundane moments in the customer journey—things that everyone goes through, but no one thinks about too much,” he said. “Take those moments and elevate them to something special.”

The cumulative effect of these elevated moments can be transformative for a health-system brand. But in an important point, Wright also warned against pursuing experiential improvement for the wrong reasons.

“We can’t be improving the customer experience just to boost sales,” he said. “In healthcare especially, that goal doesn’t make much sense. Instead, we need to improve the customer experience in order to deepen the relationship we have with our customers.”

That relationship, Wright argued, is what produces the emotional bond we can feel about a brand. It’s the ultimate driver of consumer loyalty. Which is why healthcare brands must learn to master the little moments that make that connection possible.

Floyd Medical Center—Improving Hospitalist Communication

Daniel Valancius, MD, Medical Director of Hospitalist Services, and Barbara Burnes, MS, Director of Workforce Development

Leadership at Floyd Medical Center, in northern Alabama, faced an issue that might sound familiar to many.

They wanted to help Floyd’s hospitalists build a quicker, more meaningful rapport with patients. But without robust data, it was difficult for leaders to press the case for change.

Daniel Valancius, MD, Floyd’s Medical Director of Hospitalist Services, and Barbara Burns, MS, RN, the organization’s Director of Workforce Development, spoke at the Symposium and revealed how they used NRC Health’s Real-time feedback solution to great effect at Floyd.

First, once they began to acquire Real-time data, they had to frame it in a way that would persuade clinicians to change their behavior. Leadership decided the best approach would be to integrate feedback data into daily safety huddles.

Floyd’s leadership managed to underscore the importance of Real-time’s insights by delivering feedback data alongside fall rates and medical errors. Staff members got the message—and they found the data very compelling.

“To have that very robust response as data for service improvement—it was game-changing,” Burnes said. “You could feel the skepticism and cynicism start to ebb away, and get replaced with curiosity and interest and enthusiasm.”

Credible data, delivered regularly, generated a sense of ownership for Floyd’s clinicians. They felt an increased responsibility for the patient experience. And they were willing to work hard to improve it.

With clinicians on board, the next step was to identify specific tactics for intervention—as Burnes put it, “the who, what, and how” of experiential change.

Real-time’s data was crucial here. Using it, experience leaders were able to single out provider communication as the single most important opportunity for growth.

“When you’re an inpatient after an ED visit, you’re scared, you’re touchy, you’re nervous, and you’re surrounded by strangers who say they’re going to look out for you,” Burnes said. “That’s why the ability to communicate and win their trust is so important.”

Floyd’s standard of care has always been excellent. But as with any clinical skill, Floyd had both leaders and laggards in the field of communication.

To help its underperformers develop their abilities, Floyd’s leaders deployed several tactics, including:

  • A recurring meeting on Fridays, centered around feedback
  • A coaching program where outstanding nurses helped physicians learn to relate to patients
  • A communication tool called the COMPASS, oriented around Floyd’s vision

“All these tactics had their roots in NRC data,” Valancius explained. “We took what we learned from it, and created tools that had culture tie-ins with Floyd’s values.”

Dayton Children’s Hospital—Improving the ED Experience

Jayne Lachey Gmeiner, MS, RN, VP for Patient Care, and Tami Wiggins, MSA, RN, Senior Director of Emergency Access

Dayton Children’s Hospital had no shortage of positive reviews from customers. Of the 360,000 children, young adults, and their families Dayton sees each year, the overwhelming majority of them have positive things to say about their experiences there.

Still, Dayton’s leaders recognized that success shouldn’t lead to complacency. They wanted every care encounter to reflect the organization’s high standard of care.

In their talk at Symposium, Jayne Gmeiner, MS, RN, and Tami Wiggins, MSA, RN, walked attendees through how Dayton used NRC Health’s experience data to build high reliability into the hospital’s patient experience.

First, Gmeiner explained which specific aspect of the patient experience Dayton’s leadership wanted to improve.

“We know that a major driver of our patient experience is the quality of our communication,” she said, “and we relied on NRC Health data to make sure our provider communication is excellent.”

Leaders used patients’ Real-time feedback survey responses to anchor daily huddles on the floor. Twice per day, at the beginning of each shift, these short meetings would begin with a comment from a patient or an observation about experience data. This ensured that patients’ thoughts stayed top-of-mind as staff members began their work.

“Our customers are very astute and observant,” Gmeiner said. “That’s why we pay so much attention to experience data.”

Dayton further deployed its data to enforce accountability among staff members. Individual clinicians’ net promoter scores were made visible to every other employee in the organization. Everyone knew where they stood among their peers—and no one wanted to slip behind.

“There’s no secrets here,” Wiggins said. “The visibility into the data spurs a healthy competition among our clinicians.”

Finally, a close examination of feedback unearthed an unusual correlation between the average patient experience score and…the color of the organization’s flooring. Lighter-colored floors, it turned out, led to an increased impression of cleanliness on the unit. This, in turn, influenced patients’ overall experience scores.

By changing its rooms’ flooring to a lighter color, Dayton’s leaders found a low-cost way to improve patients’ impression of their facility.

And that correlation would have been impossible without NRC Health’s data.

“[Real-time data] revealed opportunities that otherwise we never would have seen,” Wiggins said.

Cumulatively, these efforts helped Dayton achieve—and maintain—a consistent net promoter score of 75.

 Much more on offer

These represent just a small sampling of what Symposium attendees experienced this year. Other topics included:

  • How to keep innovating in healthcare
  • How to create a patient-loyalty program that patients are actually excited to use
  • What forces drive patients to become loyal—or not
  • And more

If those sound useful to you, there’s good news: there’ll be plenty of talks like them at next year’s Symposium, which is already accepting registrations.

And it’s taking place in Nashville!

Take advantage of early-bird registration, and sign up for Symposium 2021 today!