Culture & Leadership | Supporting the Workforce

5 Ways to Support the Employee Experience to Develop a Seamless Patient Experience

Burnout across healthcare systems is rampant. It’s been an undeniably challenging two years with intense feelings of exhaustion, anxiousness, and anger being felt by employees and teams. 

When we talk about customer or patient experience (CX/PX), a lot of focus falls on the consumers. But it’s important to recognize these interactions are bi-directional and employees are an equally critical part of the CX/PX equation. 

In a recent USA Today poll, 25% of healthcare workers report wanting to leave the profession entirely. Our own Authenticx data suggests workers in healthcare call centers are met with more customer pain, trauma, and fear than they have been trained to respond to. We shared some of these findings in our 2020 Customer Voices Report that suggested empathetic and authentic sentiment scores for employees fell below ideal quality assurance benchmark metrics. 

Patient interactions in healthcare are often more than simple transactions. Many times patients share   very personal, sometimes traumatic, situations they are facing, such as financial hardship, death, or job loss, leaving the employee to navigate these sensitive issues on their own. To illustrate the intensity of these interactions, here’s a recent example shared by one of our Insights Analysts: 

A scheduling agent recently took a call from a mother whose daughter had been sexually assaulted the day before. It was clear the agent had no idea how to respond, which created a void in the customer experience. This unfortunate incident highlights the need for emotional training for agents that enables them to both provide support and feel supported.

As leaders consider customer experience strategy, it’s important to balance their employees’ mental health vs. performance needs to combat burnout, attrition, absenteeism, lower engagement, and poor customer service. Conversational data offers a clear way to listen to your patients and employees and can offer an impactful way to uncover why and where burnout is emerging. Conversational data exists in contact centers, digital hub or website chat functions, emails, texts, and other communication touchpoints that exist between the health provider and patient. 

Currently, conversational data is often being captured but has typically been unstructured and hard to leverage. By some estimates, 84% of conversational data is available but not used, due to limited resources and time necessary to do more comprehensive sampling. However, conversational AI (also referred to as natural language processing) helps computers listen to and extract meaning from human language. These tools are rapidly evolving and being adopted as an approach to improve patient experiences. 

Investing in rich insights from patient thoughts, feelings, and perceptions is an opportunity to build a bridge between patients and the employees who interact with them day after day. Consider these 5 ways to focus on the employee experience, which in turn, enhances the patient experience. 

  1. Open a dialogue around obstacles employees are facing: Understanding where teams are ‘getting stuck’ can help managers better respond to signs of distress from employees. This could include reevaluating policies to help employees feel protected and supported, especially call agents on the front lines navigating sensitive topics. 
  2. Provide guidance for prioritization: Recorded conversations between patient and hospital call lines (like scheduling, for example) can offer insights into which areas of the business need help with messaging, call scripts, or procedures, so employees can offer the best possible customer experience. 
  3. Give leaders insight to what’s happening on the ground: Having access to conversations can show the challenges employees are facing in their roles across the organization. At Authenticx, we advocate creating audio montages from recorded conversations. Listening directly to the audio provides opportunities to pick up on expressions of stress or identify specific complaints employees are vocalizing. 
  4. Unearth coaching opportunities: Part of feeling empowered in a role is dedicated time from leadership to provide opportunities for growth. Actively listening for and sharing how employees are engaging with patients can create opportunities to provide coaching, feedback, support, and encouragement.
  5. Shine a light on your employees’ good work:  One of the most impactful ways employers can combat employee burnout is to continually and genuinely recognize the good work being performed on behalf of your patients. Listening to conversations gives managers insight into expressions of gratitude in everyday interactions. 
A cornerstone of good customer experience is curating a personalized user experience, which is important to provide appropriate care, address concerns, and assess patient needs. That same approach can be leveraged toward enhancing the employee experience. 

Author Bio:

Amy Brown is the founder and CEO of Authenticx – the conversational intelligence platform that analyzes and activates customers’ voices at scale to reveal transformational opportunities in healthcare. She founded Authenticx with the mission to bring the authentic voice of the customer into the boardroom and increase positive healthcare outcomes. Connect with her on LinkedIn.