A Patient Story to Inspire You Today…

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you’ve come back refreshed from the holidays and ready to start the year off with a bang! Here’s an inspirational story to help you – with your New Year resolutions, your own personal health or your understanding of the patients and consumers you encounter everyday.

I met Alana Henderson, a patient advocate, at a HISA talk late last year. A woman who had a stroke at the age of 59 (not to mention diabetes and cancer) who changed her life by project managing her health like an engineer. Find out more about how she transitioned out of her dire health circumstances (for less than AUD$300!) through her book ‘Out of the Fog’ (available on Amazon) OR watch the interview below now…

Alana’s key message to practitioners and providers is to ‘not be afraid of what patients do for themselves’. Support the involvement they have in their own care and you can be assured of delivering a meaningful patient experience.

Talk to us now if you are thinking of spearheading initiatives this year around just that! We’ve all the advice, support, training or technology you might need.

 

5 Tips to Up the Patient Experience When You’re Down on Staff

Christmas is upon us! If you’re like us, you’re probably thinking ‘Where did the year go?’ and if you’re in a high-pressured health environment, your second most immediate thought is ‘How are we going to cope with skeleton staff this season?!’

    1. Here are some ideas on how to maintain patient experience during the silly (and scary) season:Ensuring clear communication with patients. If waiting times are going to be longer, ensure the patient is informed of this, and is updated on the wait time frequently. The ‘why’ is important – perhaps the doctor had to deliver some bad news to a family or staff are away. Be specific if the patient won’t be called in before a certain time.
    2. Make wait areas comfortable. Stock up on the magazines, provide complimentary coffee and tea, make sure the wifi is working or provide TV entertainment. This can go a long way in optimizing patient satisfaction even when the wait time is not ideal.1
    3. Ensure busy staff are not giving off ‘cues of indifference’. Here are some examples:
      • Healthcare professionals avoiding eye contact with “civilians.” Med students hurrying self-importantly down the halls, nearly running down the slow-moving patients who won’t get with the program. Patients ignored by nurses who haven’t yet clocked in and therefore don’t realize they are already (poorly) representing their institution. Doctors in the hallway loudly carrying on about the relative benefits of different vacations they’ve taken. Two radios playing at once from two administrative areas (with the waiting area for patients and their families located equidistant to both). Vending machines that are left out of service indefinitely. Vending machines that require exact change, but there’s no change machine.
    4. Empathy and communication in busy wards. Continue to bring up patient experience survey outcomes at morning staff huddles, motivate staff with small rewards and comments of appreciation to ensure they are still focused on communicating and caring for patients with empathy, even during periods when the ward is short-staffed.Get help! If patient experience measurement is just adding to ward workloads – consider using volunteers to survey patients or automate your patient experience measurement.

We’ve first hand experience with helping health settings do this so just ask us!

 

Source:

1.      http://blog.evisit.com/reduce- patient-wait-times

2.      https://www.forbes.com/sites/m icahsolomon/2015/01/11/8-ways- to-improve-patient-satisfactio n-and-patient-experience-and- by-the-way-improve-hcahps- scores/#6452bf4d5191

 

Reward and Recognise Patient Experience Champions

Western Sydney’s win of the Bob Leece Award at the recent Quality Awards, is a great way to recognise those involved in transforming the patient experience in Australia. Watch this video below about the My Experience Matters Survey and the Patient and Carer Experience Team that led the way…

These awards inspire and motivate staff to continue on in their journey of experience improvement but it is not the only way of recognising staff who are making a change in an organisation. Here are 5 simple ways to celebrate staff:

  1. Recognise them at team meetings – put their names on the agenda as a key item and hand out a simple reward. The Trinity Health System in the US managed to pin-point ‘simple’ rewards by asking staff what their favourite candy bars were in a motivational assessment survey. 1
  2. Match the reward to the achievement. For a smaller achievement, managers or the executive could send a thank-you note. For a high-performing staff, link these notes of appreciation to their annual performance appraisal, as was part of a Reward and Recognition program in the US.1
  3. Involve patients in celebrating a staff member or awarding a patient experience ‘badge’. The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust UK launched a reward scheme last year that saw patients themselves award badges to staff for standout examples of quality care.3
  4. Getting colleagues to recognise each other’s efforts. A hospital in Pennsylvania mounted a ‘Caught You Caring’ initiative to reinforce extraordinary customer service behaviours through peer recognition. They found that asking employees to recognize and document acts of extraordinary customer service had a twofold effect: increased attention to the contributions of co-workers, along with enhanced collaboration and teamwork.2
  5. An ‘I appreciate what you’re doing’ conversation as you pass a staff member in the corridor does wonder for staff esteem. 🙂

Sources:

1http://education.healthcaresource.com/employee-recognition-5-ways-to-satisfy-staff-patients/

2http://www.healthstream.com/resources/blog/blog/2014/12/08/best-practices-for-healthcare-rewards-and-recognition

3https://www.nursingtimes.net/roles/nurse-managers/patients-given-badges-to-reward-quality-nursing/7001586.article

Recognising staff is very much a part of the third E (ENGAGEMENT) in our 6E framework – a holistic guide to improving patient experience in a health setting. If you want to find out more about how the 6Es can help you transform staff culture and patient experience, just call or email us.

The 6 Types of Patients You Will Encounter (& How to Activate Them)

 

Clinicians are often challenged with ensuring patients adhere to health advice around their treatment, medication, nutrition, exercise, and other activities. Adherence to long-term therapies by patients with chronic illness averages at 50%1. Adherence to advice on lifestyle changes can be even lower at 20-30%2. Verbal or written instructions and follow-ups are not achieving sufficient health outcomes. Communication strategies that allow a clinician to truly engage with the patient can trigger the patient into ‘activation’ i.e. self-motivated adherence, and greater involvement in their care.

I recently attended a riveting talk, by my friend and global personalised medicine expert,
Matt Riemann, on personalised communication and patient activation. In a roomful of doctors at the University of New South Wales, Matt relayed a clear message about how the language we use to communicate with our patients resonates with them in different ways, based on who they are.

Find out more about how you can encourage better patient adherence among Sensors, Crusaders, Activators, Connectors, Guardians and Diplomats by simply TAILORING the way you engage with them. Watch this video of my interview with Matt Riemann, Personal Health Pioneer & Futurist and Founder of ph360.

We’re brimming with ideas to help you improve the patient experience through Engagement and Activation. Email us with your questions or call us at 02 8091 0918 to find out more…
Sources:

1.  Adherence to long-term therapies: Evidence for Action, World Health Organisation (WHO)2013, http://www.who.int/chp/knowledge/publications/adherence_Section1.pdf
2.  Factors affecting therapeutic compliance: A review from the patient’s perspective, Jing Jin, Grant Edward Sklar, Vernon Min Sen Oh, Shu Chuen Li, Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2008 Feb; 4(1): 269–286. Published online 2008 Feb. PMCID: PMC2503662

You are the Patient Experience

I was fortunate enough to attend the Beryl Institute Conference on Patient Experience in Dallas TX a few days ago. The Beryl Institute is one of the leading institutions worldwide on patient experience and it seemed like over 1000 delegates were involved in the community gatherings as well as special interest communities on Patient Advocacy, Pediatrics, and Physicians.

Healthcare leaders discussed elements of supportive design, University of California in San Francisco and American Academy on Communication in Healthcare and Language of Caring conducted activities on relationship building with patients and strategy maps on effective improvement planning. Communications skills were regarded as advanced physician skills required for the current healthcare climate.

I witnessed an outstanding keynote from  Cynthia Mercer discussing the importance of culture in an organization and how staff want a purpose to work on, not a place to work in. Another keynote from TV show host and healthcare advocate Montel Williams captivated the audience with his inspiring message of overcoming the odds through his personal experiences within the US health system.

He emphasised some of the major healthcare challenges coming in the next few years with predicted acute staff shortages and rising demands from patients with chronic disease. Consumers and patients will still expect a good experience, despite these issues and they will be vocal about it.

I had the opportunity to produce a few more episodes of our Patient Experience Channel. I am experimenting with shorter videos that contain quick tips for insights and implementation. Let me know what you think of these as I interviewed Colleen Sweeney,  patient experience rockstar from the US who is the Founder of the Empathy Project and researched patients’ fears in the health system.

Watch this video to find out patient’s no. 1 fear as they enter the health system (hospital)

On the local front, if you are based in New South Wales, we are sponsoring the Patient Experience Symposium organised by NSW Health at the Australian Technology Park Everleigh on May 5 and 6, 2016. Please come and visit our booth as we are proud to support the patient experience movement in NSW hospitals.

PEX

Finally, we acknowledge another happy customer! Sarah from NIB New Zealand had nice things to say about our work to help improve their customer experience.

“Dr Avi and team were very helpful in performing analysis which enabled us to isolate our top customer frustrations. The analysis was delivered in a timely manner, and their knowledge and enthusiasm for the topic was appreciated. The information provided by Dr Avi and team has been a great help to nib in focusing our efforts on improving customer experience.”

If you are having a challenge in your organisation you’d like to discuss , do feel free to reach out to me at avnesh@energesse.com. Happy to chat!

 

 

A Conversation on Patient Experience – Lessons and Case Studies

Patient Centered Care and Patient Engagement are fast becoming buzzwords in healthcare, particularly as the belts continue to tighten and health institutions choose to invest in things that really matter.

As a leading firm that specialises in the field of patient experience and health innovation, we at Energesse decided to launch a Patient Experience Channel, to complement the Patient Experience Australia LinkedIn Group that launched in 2015.

Both initiatives were driven by the need for Australian healthcare professionals to connect, communicate and educate each other on how to diagnose, improve and monitor patient experience. They also provide very practical tips based on learnings and strategies implemented by practitioners around Australia and overseas.

For this first episode of the Patient Experience Channel, I had a conversation with Bernadette Brady, consultant and trainer with PartneringwithPatients. Bernadette and I are highly passionate about helping hospital and healthcare implement simple measures to transform healthcare to the way it should be – thinking about patients first.

In summary, some of the key learnings we highlighted are:

1. Enable patients to take control of their care and be in charge – ask them how they would like to be treated e.g. times they would want to be seen in hospital.

2. Clinicians should change from a ‘to’ mentality, to a ‘with’ mentality, when it comes to treatment program

3. Committees with patient representatives should have at least two of them on it, to ensure voices are heard

4. Learn to manage risk with patient choices – e.g. allowing early discharge from hospital even if there is a risk to patient staying at home – manage that.

5. The most effective solutions to transform care are simple – Every clinician should introduce themselves first. And always SMILE (when appropriate).

6. Celebrate success in Safety and Quality (rather than just focusing on negative events).

7. Consider the SECOND VICTIM ie. clinicians may need care and some protection too, especially when a bad experience occurs.

8. Know the difference between treating the disease and treating the person, the latter should come first.

9. Walk through the wards as if you were a patient one day – how does it feel and what observations about your environment have you made?

I’d love to hear your feedback on Episode 1 – content, length, quality, etc – what other topics around Patient Care would you like to hear about? Are there any experts in this field you’d like to hear from? Let me know and we’ll see what we can do to serve you…

Are we Ready for One Standard Measure of Patient Experience across Australian health?

Most recently, I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at the Improving Healthcare International Convention 2015 on the topic of Patient Experience case studies from the NHS, UK.

There is a growing body of evidence on patient experience measurement and linking financial incentives to them are starting to influence the thinking around patient experience measurement and improvement in Australia.

The last week I was having coffee with Michael Greco, the CEO of Patient Opinion in Australia. Patient Opinion is a website developed in the UK where patients can place elaborate comments, stories and experiences on a platform, such that it increases the transparency of how services are delivered in hospitals. The technology platform from the UK that Energesse introduced is called MES Experience, a multichannel platform for collecting patient feedback (patient experience/satisfaction) data at point-of-care and reporting meaningful analytics for managers.

As we are both heavily involved in mechanisms for improving patient experience through better data, it dawned on us that one of the major challenges in making a difference in Australia (compared to the UK) was that, we still do not have a single, clear national standardised metric for measuring improvement of patient experience.

Within the NHS there has been implementation of a standard measure of patient experience called the ‘Friends and Family Test’. Whilst there has been much debate about the measure over the last 5 years of its implementation, the one thing it has done is has raised the bar on the conversations and investments on how healthcare services should be measured and delivered in a truly patient-centred way, with input from patients.

Australian public hospitals are required to improve quality metrics around patient experience set around Standard 2, one of the 9 quality standards set by the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Healthcare. This standard calls for effective partnerships between consumers, healthcare providers and healthcare organisations which are deemed essential for safe and high quality care in national health policy in Australia.1-3

This standard aims to guide health services to become responsive to patient, carer and consumer needs and actually partners with consumers in the implementation of all other NSQHS Standards. However, according to the Commission reports, some health services have found the implementation of systems to meet the requirements of Standard 2 challenging4.

Private sector hospitals on the other hand are utilising their own divergent set of Patient Reported Experience Measures (PREMs), largely based upon surveys from the US healthcare system (HCAHPS) as well as the incorporating from other major payors such as health insurance funds. I’ve had conversations with several CEO’s and Directors of Clinical Governance who have really taken the lead in this space with patient experience measurement, and have evolved their own systems for managing it.

However, it remains clear that in general, Australian health services and hospitals are still at their infancy in terms of executing the latest strategies to collect, analyse, measure and improve patient experience. The lack of a standard national metric and the complexity of survey questions and aggregated data sources can further confuse management decision-making and budget allocation in this space.

Guidance from organisations such as the Picker Institute and Beryl Institute are helpful, yet implementation of these questions do require tailoring to local needs, such as in translation of survey questions to local ethnic languages. There also needs to be electronic mechanisms in place to complement paper-based collection in order to improve response rates, engagement and obtain meaningful insights in real-time.

Most importantly is the need to close the feedback loop and take action from patient experience data. Whilst some ward staff and executives may see this process as a ‘tick-box’ exercise, patient experience data collection is actually a driver for organisational strategy and a source for targeting innovation initiatives with real financial outcomes.

Why?

Because from my years as strategist in the corporate health sector (including for very successful pharmaceutical company with over $1bil in annual revenue), I learned one major fact – organisation that is close to its ‘customer’, is the most financially viable over the long term. Hospitals that are sensitive to understanding the needs and wants of its patients, will be the best performing over the long term.

Analysing patient complaints and frustrations may seem like a dreary task, however these ‘warning signs’ are particularly useful when coming directly from patients or front-line staff. Alleviation of patient concerns in an early stage acts as an ‘early warning system’ that can reduce systemic errors and multi-million dollar lawsuits. There are also often many positive stories that can be effectively shared in the organisation to lift morale and staff engagement.

One of the most neglected aspects of patient feedback is the long form narrative where the rich depth of patient insights often lie. In the business world, market research companies understand that these ‘long form narratives’ provide a rich source of insights on how an organisation should innovate its services. However, one of the reasons many surveys tend not to encourage these narratives is that they are difficult to analyse manually in high volumes.

Fortunately, many technologies now exist that can perform automated free text analysis to extract deeper actionable insights from this type of data and to keep service managers updated. Among them are tools like PanSensic, InVivo and SAS, some of which are customised for analysing patient experience data. Some of these tools are also able to analyse compassion, staff attitude and quality of communication.

From helping implementations of patient experience initiatives, here are 8 tips I’ve observed that can help Clinical Governance and Patient Experience managers:

  1. Have a systematic annual strategy and implementation plan that you’ve shared with a cross section of stakeholders in the hospital.
  2. Design your data collection, analysis and dissemination process so the right person gets the right data at the right time.
  3. How you design the questions for local use and ask the questions is critical – some patients/consumers will love doing a survey electronically at point of care, others may want to do it from home post-discharge – give them options.
  4. Analyse data effectively to translate them into actionable insights. Many ‘big data’ technologies that can save managers time, and perform these tasks more objectively and effectively than humans.
  5. Implement changes through a prioritisation process involving a multi-displinary team (that involves ideally 2 consumer representatives).
  6. Visibly demonstrate the results of feedback and management actions to drive culture change, motivation and results over the long term. Front line clinical staff want to know that their daily hard work is appreciated. It also helps them improve the quality of their care and communication if they understand that these aspects can actually be measured via patient feedback.
  7. Finally, monitor experience with a ward’s performance metrics to ensure that interventions are effective are continuously aligned with patient needs – many wards now have visibly transparent performance dashboards on the ward. The right way to do this is to have 3-4 main high priority metrics visible (not 20 metrics that cannot be easily seen by busy staff)
  8. Have the discipline to iterate the process to achieve continuous improvements to outcomes. Repetition is key to behaviour change. For any person, in any industry.

What are your thoughts on developing one standard metric for patient experience in Australia?

Do check out the Patient Experience Australia LinkedIn Community if you’d like to engage other leaders on this topic.

References

  1. Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights. Commonwealth of Australia, 2008. (Accessed 28 August 2014, at http://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/national-priorities/charter-of-healthcare-rights)
  2. Australian Safety and Quality Framework for Health Care. Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2010. (Accessed 28 August 2014, at http://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/national-priorities/australian-safety-and-quality-framework-for-health-care/)
  3. Australian Safety and Quality Goals for Health Care Partnering with Consumers: Action Guide. ACSQHC, 2012. (Accessed 28 August 2014, at http://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/publications/goal-3-partnering-with-consumers-action-guide/)
  4. Safety and Quality Improvement Guide Standard 2. Partnering with Consumers. Embedding partnerships in Healthcare. Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare. (Accessed 4 December 2015, http://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/publications/safety-and-quality-improvement-guide-standard-2-partnering-with-consumers-october-2012

Executive Guide: 16 Insights Executives Miss in their Customer Data

As both the corporate and healthcare worlds get increasingly consumed with data and analytics, there are many preventable mistakes and lost opportunities that executives experience when determining everyday decisions about their customers or patients. A common scenario is when managers make ‘improvements’ to a product or service, only to find later that their new changes resulted in financial losses, and they don’t really understand WHY.

Often this is due to a lack of developing a deep understanding of customer insights from their own data or research. Commonly, what executives BELIEVE they know about their customers or patients, is largely at a superficial level. In fact, they often ‘don’t know what they don’t know’, and conscious or subconsciously refuse to acknowledge their lack of awareness of customer behaviour. Immature data management leads to a vicious cycle of poor executive decision making.Immature customer data management leads to poor business

The proof of ineffective management decisions lies in the results such as poor customer or patient engagement, low sales volume or high numbers of patient complaints. Mostly these executives also only act when its too late, because they are not fully aware of the ‘preventative’ solutions available to them.

The real tragedy is that customer data is often readily available within an organisation’s own databases and data centers. However, many executives simply don’t know where their data is kept, who to get it from and how to connect the pieces strategically to solve everyday problems. The common excuses are:

16 insights bubbles

Failure to utilise data effectively often translates into poor return on investment on staff time, budgets and resources. On an individual level, executives are penalised, reprimanded or even fired for underperforming and making costly mistakes that they should have picked up on. On an organisational level, it also leads to inability to solve problems or transform outdated business and care models – the lag indicator is when the Chief Financial Officer starts complaining about an unhealthy bottom line.

In our busy worlds, we are inundated with multiple channels of data and information from customer feedback, patient surveys, focus groups, social media posts, emails, website forms, call centers, mobile chat, etc. Many executives don’t know how to effectively make sense of all these valuable data sources particularly with the quantity, speed and variety at which data is coming at us.

In these more demanding environments where customer and patient expectations are greater than ever, what’s often missing is the ability to translate all the data ‘noise’ into meaningful insights and wisdom that changes executive decisions, actions and improve results. It’s often tricky to see the ‘wood from the trees’, particularly when an executive has been in a role for over a year.

Here are 16 of the common mistakes we’ve seen executives, even experienced senior managers, make over and over again. Can you relate to any of them?

 

Data Gathering

1.  We’ve found that most organisations vastly underutilise their existing data. Reasons for this can be lack of technical expertise, lack of awareness of available insights tools and methodologies or lack of time and money. Conversely, many executives spend excessive amounts of time and money implementing poorly researched projects or solutions, which could be greatly enhanced by utilising data and insights currently available.

2.  There is often confusion that more volume of data = better insights. Whilst this can be the case, deep insights come from a combined analysis of quantitative and qualitative data focused on the solving a specific problem. In the current era of ‘big data’, higher volumes provide greater accuracy and new insights, but they can also cause more confusion if the right filters are not applied.

3.  For those that are more data-savvy, there is a heavy reliance on ‘hard’ quantitative data to measure performance. However, in our interviews with leading CEO’s, many are starting to understand that measuring ‘soft’ KPI data measures like culture, compassion, staff attitude and customer frustration provide much better lead indicators to problems like patient complaints, high staff turnover and poor customer retention.

Data Analysis

4. Once datasets and data sources have been aggregated and are easy to access, some executives think “its now time for the data to tell us what to do!” That’s an incorrect way to think about data; its far more effective to think “What are our major business problems or current priorities that we can now use this data to help solve”. This initial approach may then uncover unexpected trends.

5. Actually speaking to customers and patients also = data! Stories and text verbatim from face-to-face meetings, observations, and long answers in surveys are goldmines for WHY problems keep recurring. Whilst such anecdotal data shouldn’t be generalised, it also shouldn’t be ignored completely. These case studies are often the key insights to innovation and improving products and services

6. Executives often do not dig deep into the emotional analysis and root cause of customer frustrations and delights; they often deal with problems at a superficial level and implement quick, superficial solutions. As we move into an era of better understanding of human behaviour, deep emotional analysis of customer and patient experience is fundamental to transforming processes and systems.

7. Once data is organised, they should be used to inform an organisation’s measures of success and how incentives are allocated. However, it’s important to understand which data points are most appropriate for a measure, and that they are collected in a consistent fashion over time.

8. Some executives often extrapolate general industry behavioural data to its own customers – and implement solutions because “everybody else in the industry is doing it”. Customer segments can behave very differently e.g. Gen Y purchasers of health insurance have significantly different expectations to Baby Boomers. A mass-approach loyalty program may only be partially effective, without deep customer understanding.

9. It’s important to integrate perspectives (datasets) from multiple stakeholders to make the best decisions. Relying on purely on senior management instinct or front line staff feedback, may not give you accurate picture of what your customers/ patients think and feel (and vice versa).

10. When it comes to gathering qualitative data (from surveys, etc), many executives either ask the wrong questions or ask the right questions in the wrong way. The emphasis is often on closed questions or Likert scale responses, which are simple to analyse, rather than open questions with rich experiential information from customer narrative or verbatim patient responses.

Data Management

11. Understanding security requirements for how data should be collected, shared and stored is a speciality in itself and most executives do not understand these aspects at all. Many do not really want to either. This is often the realm of the IT and Legal departments and even then it is a highly specialised space requiring specific knowledge of the organisation’s data security protocols. When in doubt – delegate (or outsource) to trusted experts, especially with regard to data security and compliance.

12. Privacy is a related issue – it is important to understand the privacy policy for your organisation. However, privacy can often also be used as an excuse for not sharing information on customers with third parties. This can ultimately lead to resistance to progress, especially when executives are trying to improve a whole customer journey. When deciding on which data to share, it is best to think about what is the ‘highest good’ for customers/patients or no. 1 objective of the organisation. With that principle in mind, one can determine how to best filter, cut and use the data to serve that purpose, within ethical business boundaries.

Actioning Data-Driven Decisions

13. When it comes to decision-making, the process of prioritising solutions to a problem can often be based on subjective insights expressed in a management meeting (e.g. loudest voice, length of tenure, organisational politics, who plays golf with the boss, etc). These decisions may ignore objective feedback from key stakeholders such as customers. This often hurts organisations when they have to look back and try to rationalise why things were done, without any evidence to back the decision.

14. Human beings are obsessed with predicting the future, and things are no different with data. Predictive analysis of data is helping many organisations make big strategic decisions such as ‘which new market do we do diversify into’ as well as tactical decisions such as ‘how to best deploy a new machine asset in our diagnostics area’. However, organisations need to build up to this capability and it is no sense having predictive capabilities if basic operations and customer service are not performing well. Basic operational performance is influenced by how culturally accustomed staff are at using data in their decision-making. This is a capability that can be nurtured over time.

15. Remember, that having valuable insights from your data is are critical starting points in a change journey, and one that need to fundamentally improve in the healthcare industry. Nonetheless, there is no substitute for courageous leadership and sound judgement that comes from experience, and knowing when to ‘believe’ there is adequate data and insights at hand to make a timely decision, and when to look for more information before making one. This is where it is important to be guided by a big picture, holistic view of the organisation and account for other problems or strategic priorities that can influence a final decision.

16. To keep up with the pace of change, health organisations need their data collection, analysis, and decision-making processes to be systemised in order to be effective over the long term. Obtaining useful insights from data is a better start, but having skilled, trained people to take the right actions is absolutely critical.

If you are experiencing challenges with data or would like to have a conversation with us about your business priorities, please contact us. I’d be happy to answer your questions or explore how we may be able to help you use your data to solve your healthcare or business issue.

Future Solutions in Customer Experience and Retention for Private Health Insurance

The ‘Future Solutions in Customer Experience for Health Insurers White Paper’ is a research paper developed to help Australian health insurers deliver greater customer experience and customer retention. This White Paper is aimed for CEO’s, General Managers, marketers, sales and customer service leaders as well as analysts, policymakers and researchers in the industry. It is a ‘how to’ guide for getting closer to the consumer from a more complete, holistic perspective in order to drive strategic and tactical decisions.

Insights in this Paper were compiled from analysis of in-depth interviews and presentations from representatives of 10 Australian Private Health Insurance companies. Australia now has a relatively mature Private Health Insurance industry with over 11 million members and over $21bn in annual revenue in 2015. However, industry growth occurs in an evolving Australian market, which is increasingly complex. Consumers have to choose between over 17,000 different policies currently available for sale and over 25,000 policies currently in the market.

 Download the White Paper

Lapse rates can rise to over 20% of customers with some insurers (13). This equates to lost revenue (or switching of sales) exceeding $2bn per annum from lapses of an estimated 940,000 members up to 2014. These considerably high lapse rates have a significant financial impact on insurers due to the relatively tight net profit margins of most funds. In addition, insurers and customers waste a significant amount of time negotiating and resolving issues related to poor purchasing and claims experiences.

Applying a Systems Thinking approach to this complex, problem, we find a Vicious Cycle occurring in the industry in relation to customer retention and experience. From the consolidated analysis of contributor interviews, the real reason for poor customer experiences can be summarised into these 4 major themes. These include customer perceptions of confusion and lack of value, regulatory and competitive forces, sub-optimal systems, processes and data management as well as health system dynamics.

Following the analysis of interviews with industry experts, themes of solutions were consolidated. The solution model must also be robust, resilient to unpredictability and enable an organization to learn over time. In short, its execution must be a ‘Virtuous Cycle’ of CX Solutions, which is as follows:

  1. Define & Refine CX with Vision, Strategy and Objectives
  2. Align Leadership and Culture with Change Management
  3. Implement Systems and Capabilities to support CX
  4. Translate Perceptions into CX Insights & Priorities
  5. Apply CX strategically across portfolio, product design and marketing channels
  6. Extend CX across healthcare ecosystem

For some organisations, the implementation of all these solutions may take months to years and significant financial investment. As such, for those organizations that are time poor and can only do ONE THING to begin moving in the right direction, it would be to start understanding their customer perceptions much better than they are doing now. Every step of the Virtuous Cycle is largely defined by having deep psycho-emotional insights into customer perceptions. It all begins with the customer in mind, or rather ‘the customers mind’.

6% Rise in Health Insurance Premiums may ignite highest lapse rates

One of the media hot topics this month is certainly the rise health insurance premiums.

The second highest health insurance premium increase in a decade seems to be creating a “perfect storm” for unprecedented lapse rates in the industry. There are a number of reasons why the 6% average rise in Health Insurance Premiums may see far more consumers switch in record numbers to more favoured health insurers.

‘Industry disruptive’ switch campaigns such as Onebigswitch (backed by media conglomerate news.com.au) and the growing adoption of brokers such as iSelect.com.au, Comparethemarket.com.au, Helpmechoose.com.au and choosewell.com.au and are making it easier for customer to “lapse” and switch to another fund. Watch the coverage of Onebigswitch on Sunrise here

A health insurance policy “lapses” when a policyholder decides to stop making payments to an insurer often because they have moved to another fund or decided that they cannot afford health insurance altogether.

However, buyer beware! The act of switching funds actually raises the overall costs of funds to acquire new customers. These costs are then indirectly passed on to consumers, thereby reinforcing a vicious cycle of rising premiums.

Its also becoming increasingly challenging for consumers to compare “apples with apples”; there are now over 20,000 policies in the market with complicated exclusions and restrictions.

To counter the problem, health insurers are revolutionising their ‘customer experience’ efforts to encourage members to stay with their current funds.

Ten health insurers including Medibank, BUPA and NIB are collaborating on a pioneering research White Paper developed by Energesse to better understand consumers and drivers of retention.

I was recently interviewed on radio about these issues and what consumers, particularly older members of funds, should do at this time to protect their health and financial interests. You can listen to the interview here.

More importantly, with all the industry changes and the need to innovate, we have partnered with international strategy consulting firm Palladium, to deliver a cutting edge webinar on “Transforming the Customer Experience in Healthcare”. This will help healthcare organisations, such as health insurers, hospitals and government bodies can get closer to their customers and transform their business models to meet these rising consumer expectations. Its not to be missed – registration details here – please feel free to share the link with your colleagues in the industry.

Webinar: Transforming the Consumer Experience in Healthcare

Tuesday the 31st of March 2015 (Australian Eastern Standard Time):

8:00am AND 4:00pm SESSIONS

Register here for the 8:00am AEST session
Register here for the 4:00pm AEST session
Unless you are 100% aligned with the needs of your consumer or patient in your organisation, this session is for you.

Finally, I am taking my own advice and reviewing my own health insurance policy this year. If you’re reviewing yours, this article from Business Insider may be useful.