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My new secret weapon for learning from my customers


This is the first product the author has seen that combines both quantitative and qualitative feedback from patients.

phone app | © Africa Studio - stock.adobe.com

© Africa Studio - stock.adobe.com

Sometimes, I come across something I wish I’d had for years. I have a new favorite secret weapon, and it’s an app. Never thought those two phrases would go together. It combines the best of patient/employee surveys and focus groups, and I am using it to help with employee retention, market differentiation, and planning.

This app is called SEEQ, and it is the creation of the team at ShareMoreStories. As a beta user, I am using it to test my theories about care differentiators and to capture insights into what we are doing swell and what we can do even better.

I will use one of my patient projects to show how it works. I started with a question: What Differentiates Us? We have four cornerstones – 1) a staff who is happiest making others happy; 2) private rooms; 3) heated infusion recliners; and 4) a cost about half of hospital infusions. I wanted to know what is most important to our patients.

The old way of getting this information would be to ask them to rank those four options and maybe give them a fifth ‘other’ option. I would get the prioritization, but none of the emotion or insight tied to the ranking. That’s where SEEQ comes in. Patients share their stories, in their own words. It brings depth, it brings ‘aha’ moments. The SEEQ app uses AI to bring further insight into these stories along several emotional continuums. It is amazing.

Here are some of the things I learned in this little project:

  1. Patients value consistency in their care and find it increasingly rare. Our consistency is a core differentiator.
  2. Patients really appreciate that we get prior authorizations. Other infusion sites do not, putting the patient in the middle all too often. We take on the hassle for them, and they notice.
  3. Patients confirmed what I suspected: our staff is the biggest differentiator. Private rooms and heated chairs are certainly unique in our marketplace, but what elevates us is our team.
  4. Handwritten thank you notes remain in style. Since no one writes them anymore, they carry extra specialness with patients.
  5. Cost is a differentiator. Referring providers are telling patients that Infusion Solutions is not only better, it’s also less expensive. That’s music to my ears.

Everyone worries about employee retention, yet too few employers use patient feedback effectively as a retention strategy. I use patient stories to reinforce our mission – One Happy Patient At A Time – and have had some amazing conversations with my team talking about the difference we are making in patients’ lives. They like to know they are making a difference. Guess what? We have much less turnover than most healthcare providers.

Back to SEEQ: I play a flat monthly rate and am able to create as many projects as I want. How can I learn from referral coordinators what we can do to make their jobs easier? What do my teammates enjoy most/enjoy least about working at Infusion Solutions? I think SEEQ would be very effective in garnering insights from employees by role in a larger organization. Would extending our hours differentiate us? If I have a hypothesis, I can test it quickly and get exceptional insights.

All of us have conducted patient or employee surveys that provide one-dimensional quantitative feedback. Very few of us have conducted focus groups that provide one-dimensional qualitative feedback. SEEQ is the first product I have seen that combines both quantitative and qualitative feedback.

I mentioned earlier that SEEQ is an app. The app is where folks answer a few questions (like old-school survey tools) and then share their stories. It is easy and intuitive, even for an old guy like me. You can learn more here; I think they can do a better job of explaining it than I have.

I have been surprised that so many patients enjoy writing about their experiences. I have been very pleased with how the SEEQ AI distills and discerns common feelings, insights, and differentiators. I feel l know what matters most to our patients, our referring base, and my employees. Those insights are critical to shaping our future, one happy patient at a time.

In the last stages of my career, I look back at when I was most effective or least effective, when my practices were most successful or least successful. The common denominator for the best times was that the patient came first. Margin followed Mission. The worst of times were when we had it backwards. SEEQ keeps my focus on the mission. If I focus on patients and employees, everything falls into place.

Lucien W. Roberts, III, MHA, FACMPE is a semi-retired practice administrator and long-time writer for Physicians Practice and Medical Economics. In his semi-retired kind of life, he is fortunate to be part of an infusion center with a simple measure of success: one happy patient at a time.

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