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McLeod Health’s focus on care transitions increased patient experience scores

Executive Summary

McLeod Health, a locally owned, not-for-profit healthcare system, extends from the midlands to the coast along North and South Carolina, serving more than one million people there.

McLeod Health wanted a designated staff to follow up with patients in order to improve patient experience, employee satisfaction, and the ability to improve outcomes consistently. That’s why McLeod Health turned to NRC Health’s Human Understanding Program for support with care transitions to streamline its post-discharge contact operations, ensuring that each patient understands exactly how valued they are.

NRC Health’s experience solution helped McLeod Health:

  • Provide immediate visibility into at-risk patients for readmission
  • Allow for quick service recovery by showcasing patient-level assessment data and historical patient profiles
  • Isolate key areas for process improvement, allowing organizations to implement change and reduce future readmissions
  • Reduce call burdens on current staff








The McLeod Health network comprises seven hospitals powered by more than 800 physicians, 2,000 registered nurses, and 8,500 employees, providing the region’s best destination for medical excellence.

The McLeod Health network wanted to reach out to 100% of their patients with post-discharge calls, which they started in 2010. However, as McLeod Health expanded, process improvement and quality grew—while over time and through the turnover of leaders or staff, participation dropped. Eventually, only a couple of units could complete post-discharge calls consistently, and capacity bandwidth became an issue.

Experience told McLeod Health leaders that most patients grasp their post-discharge instructions, but occasionally experience confusion regarding medications, treatment protocols, or follow-up visits.

To demonstrate Human Understanding to their patients, McLeod Health implemented NRC Health’s experience solution to ensure a safe and consistent passage from discharge to patient follow-up. Among other improvements, NRC Health enabled McLeod Health to reach 100% of their patients with a fraction of the time commitment from their existing teams.

“We have designated staff calling patients they know actually need something from us. There’s a lot of fulfillment in that. And in those cases where there’s something that needs escalation, it’s built into our process and standards for them to know whom to send those types of things to. Knowledge and demonstration of proficiency and service recovery are really big pieces for us.”

Sheri Brockington, Director of Service Excellence, McLeod Health


NRC Health’s automated platform uses Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) technology to reach 100% of patients within one day of discharge. Its quick, convenient assessment invites high response rates from patients, and enables them to self-select for extra clinical support. Once this occurs, the Medical Communications team is immediately notified, and can rapidly intervene to resolve the patient’s issues.

This spares staff the workload of making manual phone calls to every patient, broadens the reach of providers’ post-discharge contacts, and ultimately reduces readmissions by walking patients through any emergent post-discharge complications.

NRC Health also documents the results of post-discharge outreach by seamlessly capturing data from every call, and reporting findings to a centralized dashboard that leaders can consult at any time. With it, leaders get an at-a-glance view of who is contacted, and what happens next, across the entire organization—making NRC Health’s capabilities invaluable for strategic planning.

“When you get adequate, timely, and accurate feedback, then you’re able to change whatever you need to change. If there’s a significant amount of time between what occurred and the feedback, there is less likely to be any change or positive reaction to that. People really respond to a response being timely, accurate, and adequate.”

C. Dale Lusk, MD, Chief Medical Officer, McLeod Health


McLeod Health was better able to keep up with growth and the number of people being discharged without burning out staff. The solution also allowed McLeod Health to meet its KPIs to increase patient satisfaction, reduce readmissions, and follow a consistent fail-safe process in which calls are automated yet deliver a consistent message of care beyond the hospital walls.


NRC Health helped McLeod Health achieve the seemingly impossible: making calls to 100% of patients within 24–48 hours of discharge without compromising staff capabilities. McLeod Health is now able to resolve alerts within one day, getting to root causes quickly. McLeod Health’s focus on Human Understanding helps its staff change their approach to design care with patients; it also instills the belief in employees that they are essential to the organization’s mission and future.


The care transitions feature and efficient follow-up calls made it possible for McLeod Health to have a powerful impact on patient sentiment. In a cross-comparison of CAHPS results based on participation in Inpatient transitions calls, 82.8% of patients scored positively on Nurse Communication vs 76% of patients for those who did not interact with the transitions call. As evidenced by the results below, nearly all experiential measures saw statistically significant improvement for patients due to the benefit of intelligent intervention.

“Our leaders are using this information in their huddles with their teams. They’re proactively looking at this information and trying to make sure that if we hear three patients having the same issue, then we’re going to make sure that we’re looking at our process to fix it. That’s another thing that helps with the frontline engagement, because we’re engaging those frontline clinical staff to help us with fixing the problem.”

Sheri Brockington, Director of Service Excellence, McLeod Health


As shown above, participation in a clinical discharge call elicits better experiential outcomes, especially related to nurse communication measures. Because nursing staff handles the bulk of triaging alerts, patients score them higher on measures in which NRC Health’s patient experience solution is used. In this example, within six months of deploying NRC Health’s solution, McLeod Health improved their nurse communication scores overall by 5.4%.


NRC Health’s patient experience solution proved to be a rallying point for broader organizational issues as well. With the ability to access robust and meaningful reporting via NRC Health, the McLeod Health team could bring that data to huddles or executive meetings, garnering more interest in questions and feedback from leadership.

NRC Health has also boosted McLeod Health’s reward and recognition culture, providing data to share through recognition boards or in meetings. The solution has also allowed McLeod Health’s Service Excellence Team to grow their overall improvement mentality as an organization. Improving care was something non-COVID-related that the McLeod Health team could come together and work on, which created more excitement among employees and built in-organizational culture.


The methodical work of McLeod Health has created broad successful outcomes for patients and a culture of continuous improvement across the health system. NRC Health’s Human Understanding Program has provided the organization’s leadership a voice from all patients, and a clear path toward service improvement while highlighting the staff who demonstrate positive results. The solution has empowered the team to make clinical interventions and given a voice to patients to express their concerns, compliments, and complaints—empowering McLeod Health to act quickly and increase overall patient experience scores.


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