By Gert Volmer
CareSouth Carolina is a non-profit community health center delivering patient-centered health and life care services at more than 14 locations in rural South Carolina. Services provided include family practice, pediatrics, geriatrics, social services, clinical counseling, laboratory, X-Ray and a pharmacy. CareSouth Carolina has been recognized as a national model of success in the delivery of health services to people in need in rural communities. Its visionary clinical programs have received national exposure and recognition from national legislators as well as the CBS Evening News, the ABC Today Show, Time Magazine, the Institute of Health Care Improvement, the Wall Street Journal, and others.
The importance of patient experience
Paul: As an operations professional of a healthcare organization, what challenges keep you up at night?
Chaneka: The most important focus for me is making sure that we provide a quality patient experience for our patients when they come into our offices. The most crucial part of this is access. We serve a population that would not receive healthcare if we didn’t exist. That is our purpose and mission as community health centers, to make sure that we serve, and serve well, those who otherwise would not be seen. Once they get to our offices, we focus on providing the best possible customer service so our patients have the best experience, want to come back to us, and most importantly so that they think of us as their medical home, their family.
Paul: That’s a powerful statement, to not just see the patient but truly take care of the patient. It’s wonderful to hear that your passion aligns with providing an excellent patient experience for every individual who walks through your doors.
Chaneka: Customer service is number one. We believe that regardless of who you are, or why you are here, you deserve to get the same patient experience. This is almost a daily topic for my team and me. We make the conscious effort to focus on our customer service because that is the key to creating a stellar patient experience.
Paul: This brings up an interesting contrast with what is going on at the national level. Right now, so much of healthcare is tied to metrics. In your experience, how can organizations best empower their teams to focus on providing a consistently positive patient experience, rather than just attempting to score high on standardized or annual surveys?
Chaneka: The first thing that comes to my mind is the importance of having the right people and the right tools in place. When you have the right people in place and they are passionate about providing a great care experience it will show. And when you give them useful technology to leverage, you get a lot more bang for your buck.
“When you have the right people in place and they are passionate about providing a great care experience and you give them useful technology to leverage, it will show and you get a lot more bang for your buck.”Chaneka Pigatt, COO, Caresouth Carolina
Paul: Take me through that for CareSouth… Prior to using Feedtrail, how was your team learning from patients and reacting to concerns?
Chaneka: We previously had paper questionnaires that we would hand out to our patients after appointments. We passed out the surveys to 10 patients per provider each month. Completed surveys were put in a locked box and the site administrator would tally the information and transcribe it into a spreadsheet. If there were comments on the survey, the site administrator would address them and keep record of any recurring complaints or concerns. Quite the lengthy process, I know. Which is why I am so glad that CareSouth has decided to take a different route in collecting our patient satisfaction information.
With Feedtrail, we instantly began receiving a much higher volume of useful feedback from across our system.
Consistently positive patient experiences
Paul: What other challenges have been alleviated since you’ve implemented Feedtrail?
Chaneka: We love that the feedback is filled out in real time and that data is sent directly to the site administrator to see immediately. With Feedtrail, the site administrator knows in real time whether a patient had a good or bad experience and can contact that patient directly if he or she left a response that warrants service recovery. This is one of the most noticeable improvements I’ve experienced since we began using Feedtrail. Having access to this type of emotional patient feedback has been transformative for our team.
Paul: From your perspective, has the type and quality of feedback you’ve been receiving been useful for your team?
Chaneka: Yes, 100%. Patients are very receptive to using Feedtrail to tell us what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong. For example, we’re currently measuring and trying to reduce office visit cycle times.
With Feedtrail, I’ve seen explicit comments about just this, and since the platform sends us push notifications as soon as we receive any constructive feedback, our site administrator can address those issues in real time before patients even leave an appointment. And because the platform records all data in customizable dashboards, we can quickly identify trends and create better best practices for the overall footprint.
I can’t stress how important it is to create lasting changes and not just Band-Aids. Feedtrail lets us do both.
Real time feedback loop
Paul: Are you also getting positive comments from patients that help you learn from their experiences?
Chaneka: Yes. The positive comments are also very helpful. Patients frequently leave feedback for specific staff members. The fact that Feedtrail’s platform allows us to organize feedback data by provider and/or location makes it easy for site administrators to stay informed and quickly identify top performs and those that might have some room for improvement.
As well, being able to customize a dashboard to view the variety of analytics has given me a new ability to distill important insights for my organization. Just yesterday I was preparing a board report and having the ability to pull up the dashboard and see where each of my locations is performing relative to a specific question type, and then being able to tie those number scores to specific comments has been incredible. It saves me time, but more importantly we have a deeper level of insight than we thought possible.
With Feedtrail, the site administrator knows in real time whether a patient had a good or bad experience and can contact that patient directly if he or she left a response that warrants service recovery. And all data is in personalized dashboards, so you can quickly identify trends and create better best practices for the overall footprint.Chaneka Pigatt, COO, Caresouth Carolina
Paul: Can you sum up your experience using Feedtrail thus far?
Chaneka: Feedtrail has simplified our data collection regarding the patient experience here at CareSouth. It has not been overwhelming for our patients nor our staff and has provided our management with real-time information, so they can uncover and address patient issues in a timely fashion. Most crucially patients feel that their voices are being heard. Feedtrail has really helped us paint a clear picture of what our patients need and how they feel about the care they receive across our 14 locations. It’s a great product, and we feel lucky to be working with you all.
Paul: Thank you for your time, Chaneka.