Automating the feedback process produces invaluable data

HealthNet uses digital technology to improve outreach to consumers, helping the federally qualified health plan make course corrections in operations.

patient data
Automating patient feedback has helped HealthNet gain a global perspective from patients throughout their care encounters.

Customer feedback – it’s one of the best ways for healthcare organizations to get important guidance to make course corrections in their performance.

Many of the most common methods of obtaining feedback are retrospective, relying on patients and families to fill out paper forms and questionnaires, typically days or even weeks after a care encounter. But now, a variety of digital communications formats can be used to get near real-time feedback throughout the entire care encounter.

For example, HealthNet, an Indianapolis-based health plan that operates nine community-based comprehensive primary care health centers in addition to other care locations, is using technology from FeedTrail to increase the timeliness and quantity of feedback. The technology, which enables providers to engage with patients throughout the care continuum, has greatly increased feedback that influences its interactions with consumers, says Carrie Bonsack, HealthNet’s chief business development officer.

HealthNet's Carrie Bonsack discusses benchmarking patient feedback beyond Net Promoter Score during the HDM KLASroom.

Bonsack provided some insights during an educational session on Sept. 20 that was part of the HDM KLASroom series on improving patient engagement and experience. The on-demand session can be found here.

HealthNet – a federally qualified health plan that provides primary care health services to the underserved in the Indianapolis metropolitan area – is taking feedback from consumers and making adjustments in operations that are resulting in improved Net Promoter Scores, which measure the likelihood that a patient/customer will recommend a provider’s services to a family member or friend.

Responses skyrocket

Before shifting to digital technology, HealthNet had a target of getting 100 responses over the course of a year on paper surveys from each of its health centers, and at best, it fielded 1,500 surveys a year for all its sites, Bonsack said. “That’s just not enough to act on,” she added. Using digital feedback – which connects with patients via text messages or email – raised the total number of annual responses to 13,000 across the entire organization, she said.

“It helps, because our patients want to be more responsive, and this makes for a better consumer environment,” she noted. “We think the question is whether you are going to be able to retain and attract new customers. It’s all about our patients being consumers. It’s not just about the Net Promoter Score, even though ours is at an excellent level (75 on a scale of 100).”

HealthNet’s board of directors believes such research is crucial to measuring patient perceptions of the organization, she added. “They want to know how patients feel about the cost of our care. (The feedback) is something that we’ve been able to use to demonstrate our care quality.”

The use of Feedtrail enables HealthNet to drill down to gauge consumer feedback at each of its locations, by service lines and even by individual provider. The health plan can identify which entities are performing well, “and we can ask, ‘Can we benchmark off this person? Or can we improve in this particular health center by what is working elsewhere?’ ” Bonsack said.

The technology enables HealthNet to conduct outreach to those in its three largest language groups – English, Spanish and Burmese.

The value of customer assessment

HealthNet is ahead of the curve in assessing consumer feedback throughout the patient encounter, said Paul Jaglowski, co-founder and chief strategy and product officer for Feedtrail.

“It can engage before, during and after the experience,” he said. And the technology enables it to connect with family members of some patients, such as those who were treated in the ICU, NICU or some who may have received care as inpatients.

Paul Jaglowski, co-founder & CSO, Feedtrail shares why HealthNet tops Px maturity curve.

Feedback can provide answers to questions that are crucial to provider performance, such as why patients didn’t show up for care, Bonsack said. “With no-shows, you can ask why they are missing appointments. Pre-engagement, why are patients not coming in? If this is a problem, you’ll find out why when you ask your patients. It’s a matter of being super-creative and thinking about what we can do differently.”

And positive feedback has increased, which has helped clinicians and staff members feel good about their impact, Bonsack adds. “It makes a big difference; our caregivers can understand that the patients do see that I’m doing my best to make sure they are better. It doesn’t fix (burnout) 100 percent, but it is a tool to help with that.”

Visit the HDM KLASroom to see the full session with Feedtrail & HealthNet's Carrie Bonsack, as well as other learning experiences.

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