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Nimble and ready: How Community Insights
and Real-time Feedback helped UMC
respond effectively to COVID-19

UMC Health System (UMC), in Lubbock, Texas, was already a stand-out institution in its community. However, its leadership wanted to build on that reputation by creating a
personalized care experience across its entire brand. They saw promising results—but COVID-19 temporarily shifted their priorities like others across the country.

Suddenly, questions of patient experience were more urgent than ever. UMC’s leaders needed answers, and they needed them quickly. They turned to NRC Health’s Real-time
Feedback and Community Insights solutions.

These two approaches enabled UMC’s leadership to…

  • Create a system of rewards—and accountability—based on credible feedback data
  • Bolster emergency-center “would recommend” scores by more than 10%
  • Develop robust virtual-service lines in the wake of COVID-19
  • And more

System Governance | Attract & Acquire | Quality & Outcomes | Loyalty & Retention | Service Culture








UMC Health System is a premier provider in Lubbock, Texas. UMC has a long history of clinical excellence, and has earned a reputation for outstanding care among its devoted
base of customers.

Not content to rest on their laurels, UMC’s leadership wanted to push organizational performance even further. They wanted to earn the continuing loyalty of UMC customers by coaching every member of the organization’s staff to deliver singularly warm and empathetic care experiences, spanning every touchpoint—no small feat, for an organization with more than 4,600 employees.

Despite the challenge, UMC soon made significant strides forward, as leadership used NRC Health’s Real-time Feedback solution to help providers improve their performance. Achieving their experience goals seemed like just a matter of time—until mid-March, when COVID-19 struck.

As in every other corner of the healthcare industry, the coronavirus pandemic completely upended UMC’s plans. Now, in addition to an ambitious experience-improvement plan, UMC leaders needed to develop a robust response to the virus.

NRC Health’s Real-time Feedback and Community Insights solutions would prove instrumental to both efforts.

“From the beginning, our strategy hinged on the patient experience. We wanted to show our staff where they stood today, and then use NRC Health survey data and patient comments to support our various departments toward success.”

Aaron Davis, Chief Experience Officer, UMC Health System


Real-time Feedback is a patient-survey solution that reaches 100% of patients within 48 hours of their care episodes.

Delivered through modern modalities like email, SMS, or IVR, Real-time reaches patients where they are—and thereby drives a significant uptick in response rates. It also offers customers the opportunity to provide open-ended comments about their experiences. This allows them to voice their authentic concerns, beyond what might appear in a standardized question set.

Even better, Real-time is also extensible. The solution can be augmented with a number of modular upgrades, including the eminently useful Community Insights.

Community Insights is NRC Health’s solution for developing robust patient panels. Following the completion of a Real-time survey, Community Insights automatically extends an invitation to respondents to join a focus group.

Because this invitation only occurs after a patient has already completed a Real-time survey, it ensures that only the most engaged patients are given the opportunity to join.

It’s an opt-in mechanism with a remarkable success rate: enrollment approaches an average of 30%. This represents a substantial improvement over most in-house efforts, and is much more cost-effective than purchasing panels from a vendor.

With a combination of Real-time and Community Insights, health systems can quickly—and effortlessly—build large and diverse focus groups. Perhaps more importantly, these groups will be comprised of the organization’s most engaged and invested customers.


With these tools in hand, UMC’s leaders were able to implement a number of strategies to improve their experience and respond effectively to the COVID crisis.


With a steady stream of Real-time data, UMC leaders had much-improved visibility into the efforts from their staff. This enabled leadership to encourage their staff’s successes and express sincere appreciation for their hard work.

These efforts reinvigorated UMC’s care teams, resulting in substantial experience improvements. Most notably, likelihood-to-recommend scores improved by a full 10% in UMC’s Emergency Department, 4% in Outpatient Services, and 3% in Urgent Care cumulatively; all while essentially doubling the survey volume received from 2019.


While it is not a best practice to use Real-time scores punitively, they can be a useful means to promote organizational accountability.

Real-time makes it easy to share dashboard reports to stakeholders. Customized data flows can be configured to reach relevant leadership in any segment of the organization. UMC’s experience team was able to send these departmental dashboards to every leader, in every one of its division, every single week.

The regularity of this dataflow meant that divisional leaders had consistent visibility into their performance. This, naturally, sparked improvements—leading eight out of ten outpatient units to exceed their experience-score goals.


“The patient experience first begins with an engaged workforce. If you invest in your employees through training, strategic alignment, and recognition; patient experience takes care of itself. When employees love coming to work, patients can tell and are directly impacted by the culture of joy, service, and teamwork.”

Aaron Davis, Chief Experience Officer, UMC Health System

Finally, when the coronavirus forced UMC to shutter its in-patient services, leaders needed reliable data to guide their next steps. They found that data through Community Insights.

Using the solution, they were able to build a robust patient panel—1,219 members, representing an opt-in rate of 33%—within a very short timeframe.

This robust focus-group membership credibly informed UMC’s COVID-19 strategy. Leaders were able to determine, for instance, that just under half (49%) of its customers were deferring healthcare procedures; that 70% of its patients were willing to use virtual-care delivery for common primary-care appointments; and that 48% expected UMC to perform temperature checks on anyone entering the building.

With these insights, UMC’s leaders were able to quickly re-design their approach to care delivery, ensuring that their customers felt safe.

“The thing you’re going to get with NRC Health is phenomenally high response rates. Before NRC, I came to expect around 40 patients to attend our Advisory Council—on a good night. Now we have over a thousand; which helps us better capture the voice of the customer.”

Aaron Davis, Chief Experience Officer, UMC Health System


These are by no means the limits of UMC’s utilization of NRC Health solutions. In developing their five-year Consumerism Strategic Plan, UMC leaders expect to further integrate these solutions into their existing experience platforms. The data will be an invaluable guide—both in the immediate crisis, and in the organization’s effort to build long-term loyalty in an uncertain future.

“NRC Health will be instrumental in supporting our strategic plan. Our hope is to build customer loyalty through personalized care experiences. With NRC Health, our Health System is one step closer.”

Aaron Davis, Chief Experience Officer, UMC Health System

For more on solutions from NRC Health,
call 800.388.4264 or visit nrchealth.com/demo.