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Missed the Symposium this year? Here are some of the highlights.

As you may imagine, this year’s NRC Health Symposium was a little different from its predecessors. For the safety of everyone involved, we went all-virtual for the first time in Symposium history.

We wish we had the opportunity to greet attendees in person. All the same, it was our distinct pleasure to host some of healthcare’s most important leaders for this virtual event. Though our speakers swapped their home offices for the front stage, the Symposium experience was as edifying as ever.

If you missed your chance to log on, you’re in luck. You can still learn from what our presenters had to say.

Here are some highlights from three presentations delivered at last week’s Symposium.

Wendy Sue Swanson, MD—“Don’t be afraid to make it up”

No stranger to re-invention, Dr. Swanson is a pediatrician, chief medical officer, TV reporter, blogger, and thought-leader. During her influential tenure at Seattle Children’s Hospital (where she is currently Chief of Digital Innovation), she brought a number of important digital health initiatives to maturity, including two mobile apps and a voice-powered chatbot to answer patients’ questions in the waiting room.

These achievements are no doubt impressive. They may even seem daunting. But in her warm, approachable talk, Dr. Swanson encouraged other healthcare leaders to think about the innovations they could introduce to their own organizations.

“I can’t emphasize this enough about [these initiatives]: I made it all up,” Dr. Swanson said. “I have made my career on making things up. And that’s something all of us can do—and all of us need to do.”

Dr. Swanson believes healthcare organizations have a particular responsibility when it comes to shaping the digital landscape.

Not only must they actively combat the misinformation that pervades the internet (especially about issues like vaccines or nutrition), but they must also work to secure patients’ digital rights (especially when it comes to transparency and access).

Dr. Swanson also emphasized that COVID-19 has ushered in a digital-first future that healthcare organizations would be wise to embrace. There’s no turning back the clock on what patients have begun to demand in the age of social distancing.

“The practice of medicine is being assembled and dismantled out of necessity,” Dr. Swanson said. “One thing that’s clear is that we can’t go back. Easier, at-home access to care and to our data is here to stay forever.”

Mission Health—Engaging employees in a pandemic

Cheri Kauset, VP of Customer Experience

If nothing else, COVID-19 has proven to be a profound test of healthcare workers’ resilience. For many in the industry, the last few months have been the most stressful of their careers, as workers brave serious physical risk to deliver care to their customers.

In such an environment, how can a healthcare organization maintain employee morale?

For her talk at Symposium, Chari Kauset, VP of Customer Experience at Mission Health, offered some ideas.

Before the pandemic, Mission Health already had an employee-engagement operation. But, as Kauset put it, “the novel coronavirus is really what put it to the test.”

For Mission Health, COVID-19 gave the organization a chance to get even more ambitious with how it supports its employees. “Our goal was to build a robust employee-safety net, to make sure nobody fell through the cracks of our support system,” Kauset said.

This safety net included a slew of tactics—backed by NRC Health’s employee-engagement survey data—to keep employees feeling protected, engaged, and connected.

For one, Mission wanted to ensure that no employee ever experienced food insecurity. So they created a food-relief program, offering free curbside pickup of groceries. 4,583 Mission employees participated.

To help conserve employee fiscal health, Mission revised its PTO policies, offered pay bonuses for staff working in isolation, and set up an employee-relief fund to cover any gaps.

Finally, Mission made a point of connecting employees with a variety of other resources—including each other. This sense of connectedness has been instrumental in securing long-term retention: even in the thick of the crisis, Mission maintained a solid 67% employee retention rate across its organization.

Kauset was quick to acknowledge that no one solution would fit every institution’s needs. In the end, she believes, the important thing is not to let the hard work of adapting to COVID-19 go to waste.

“In the toughest of times, it’s important not to miss the opportunity to innovate,” she said. “Think about what you’ve been doing during this crisis, and think about how it can revitalize your ‘new normal.’”

BayCare Health—Building a loyalty program that works

Brian Curtiss, System Marketing Director, and Reid Yoder, Special Projects Strategist

To build loyalty among its customers, BayCare Health designed the EasyPass system, a loyalty program for its patients. It has been a success, by any metric you’d choose.

In their talk at Symposium, BayCare’s system marketing director, Brian Curtiss, and Reid Yoder, a special projects strategist, laid out exactly what makes EasyPass so effective.

First and foremost, they wanted EasyPass to alleviate points of friction in BayCare customers’ care journeys. This meant bringing clarity to the process.

“Our customers told us they loved their care, but they felt confused,” Curtiss said. “And immediately we centered on that as a pretty big problem to solve.”

By offering easy online appointment setting, care-navigation support, and simple reminders for services, EasyPass makes life a lot easier for BayCare’s patients.

“The whole concept of simplicity is about ease of navigation, the removal of barriers,” Yoder said. “We want this to be as easy as possible.”

The pair also offered comprehensive advice for other organizations with similar ambitions. They counseled starting with a small pilot project before implementing a wider roll-out, and involving C-suite leadership from the beginning.

“To our surprise, executive leaders felt this was a really important, valuable project, given the competitive environment we’re in,” Curtiss said.

Their talk was an inspiring example of building a new, successful program from the ground up. A fuller review of their approach can be found here.

Much more on offer

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

– What it takes to maintain employee morale in a pandemic

– How to create a patient-loyalty program—that patients are actually excited to use

– How to engage physicians in the feedback process

– And more

If those sound useful to you, there’s good news: there’ll be plenty of talks like these 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 the Symposium today