SMG Expert Spotlight—Brett Brende

Employee Spotlight | May 28, 2020 Employee Spotlight 05/28/20

Today we sat down with Brett Brende—VP of Customer Engagement, Healthcare—to get the scoop on why the patient experience is more important than ever, how the shift to consumer-driven healthcare has changed the industry, and what SMG is doing to help organizations drive patient engagement.


What should healthcare organizations be doing right now to prioritize the patient experience?

Because of the coronavirus, our healthcare systems and their employees are dealing with unprecedented challenges right now. I believe one of the most important things we can do to prioritize the patient experience is to make sure we are taking care of our healthcare employees. Many of our healthcare workers are operating under difficult situations, putting their own health and safety at risk.

We know one of the best ways to improve the patient experience is to improve the employee experience. There are many things organizations can do to drive employee engagement—communicate with them, check in and see how they are doing, and make sure they have the training and resources they need to deal with the challenges they are facing.


COVID-19 has obviously affected the healthcare industry in monumental ways. Do you believe this impact will carry over in the long-term and if so, what changes to the patient experience should organizations prepare for?

One of the biggest shifts we are seeing during the COVID-19 pandemic is the growth of telehealth. While many healthcare organizations have been providing this service for years, many believe this is the tipping point where both consumers and providers jump in. The reasons are obvious with health and safety driving the demand. With the nation focusing on physical distancing during the coronavirus, having the ability to have a virtual visit changes the game for people.

We are already seeing healthcare organizations rapidly adopt to ensure they have the technology and resources in place to accommodate this shift.


How has the major shift to consumer-driven healthcare changed the patient experience?

With the growth of health savings accounts and high deductible insurance plans, consumers are increasingly becoming more involved in their healthcare spend. They are bringing to the table a different mindset and want to experience the same type of choice, speed, and convenience they experience in other industries.

One obvious change is the plethora of choices we have as healthcare consumers. We’ve all seen the trend for the big box retailers adding healthcare services to their offering—making it easy to get medical services in a one-stop shop.

Healthcare organizations have followed suit, looking for ways to offer traditional services in more convenient settings—including standalone urgent care clinics, surgery centers, etc. The ease and convenience of shopping online has us wanting similar experiences in our healthcare—whether it be scheduling appointments, communicating with our provider, or trying to reach a service representative.  This consumer-driven approach is relatively new in healthcare, but those that work to better understand and get the patient experience right will experience large dividends.


How do healthcare organizations benefit from a comprehensive experience management (XM) program, as opposed to just relying on CAHPS feedback?

What we have learned in our research commissioned by the Beryl Institute is the gap is widening between those organizations who are incorporating PX measurement alongside their CAHPS efforts as compared to those only measuring CAHPS. We consistently see those that go beyond CAHPS tend to have a culture that supports PX as opposed to having a more siloed approach driven at the department level. They also tend to be leadership-driven and have more involvement across the organization.


What do you love most about working at SMG?

Many things, but it all starts with the culture and the people. It is a group of really smart individuals all working hard to help our clients succeed. It has been amazing for me to see the work being done during COVID-19 as our teams have been working tirelessly to provide insights for our clients so they can better understand and manage their business through this challenging time.


In your opinion, what makes an exceptional patient experience?

Ultimately it’s about putting the patient first, and that means creating a smooth, seamless experience throughout the patient journey. That starts with making the scheduling process easy for patients, by providing a friendly staff and timely appointments. It is also important to establish an environment where patients feel welcome and comfortable. Patients must have good communication with their provider, so they feel respected and cared for during their visit. Lastly, it is important to keep an open line of communication between visits to build trust and patient loyalty.

To get the latest on coronavirus-related content + best practices for experience management, visit the SMG COVID-19 Resource Center.
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