Bringing healthcare into the future with the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network
The Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network is tackling the human side of healthcare. By using data, they’re able to change healthcare for the better, not just for patients, but also for their staff, care teams, and physicians.
We interviewed Steve Basilotto, Senior Vice President and Chief Experience Officer at Froedtert Health, on his fearless approach to change and why he thinks healthcare needs a new way of thinking about patient experience.
A passion for discovery and change
As he describes it, Steve has been fortunate enough to see the world from various different perspectives. “I grew up in a military family, so for the first 18 years of my life I lived in eight different places in the US or more around the world,” he said.
The experience led him to see life through a different lens. “It instilled a passion for discovery and change, and a constant desire to learn,” he explained. “I don’t consider anything that I do professionally or personally to be set in stone, with static rules.”
I do the things I believe are right, whether or not that’s how it’s always been done
His approach to his life and his work led him to his current position in healthcare with Froedtert Health. “I moved into healthcare after 30 years in consumer financial services because the system, in my view, can and should be better for patients as consumers of healthcare. It needs to be changed, and it can’t happen with an organization that just wants to do the same thing over and over. That’s why I joined Froedtert Health – a high-performing academic health system focused on transforming the way care is provided.”
Using past experience for new challenges
“One of the things I’m most proud of is that I’ve seized the opportunity to make major career changes across industries,” Steve commented. His experience spans consumer financial services, healthcare insurance, and FinTech with expertise in operations, marketing, technology, analytics, customer experience, and strategy.
Now at Froedtert Health, he’s a healthcare provider system executive, running corporate marketing, communications, patient and consumer experience, digital engagement, business intelligence, insights, strategic planning and performance excellence.
The ability to throw himself into different career paths is due to an early career discovery. “I found that so much of what we do as leaders comes down to how you engage and lead with the people around you,” he said.
The best way to get someone to change something is to show them why it needs to be done, rather than just telling them
With this attitude and a desire to learn, he was able to leverage his experience to work in healthcare.
Adapting to evolving patient expectations
Though the healthcare industry might consider solving medical issues to be the main focus of patient interactions, in Steve’s view, greater importance needs to be placed on the surrounding “consumer” touchpoints that see patients as “customers” that we want and value.
“In healthcare, the industry has been built on incredibly bright, talented individuals who focus on effectively and efficiently returning a patient to health and keeping those individuals healthy,” Steve said. “In most clinical settings, patients greatly value their care team and physicians’ direction to enhance their health.”
However, the majority of interactions with a healthcare system for the patient as a customer are not directly related to receiving care – e.g. Scheduling an appointment, arriving and navigating a medical center, filling out paperwork, and of course, paying for care.
The industry needs to turn the consumer experience of finding, navigating, receiving, and paying for health care as equal to the care itself.
“Our industry is currently being disrupted as others have been during the past decade by new and existing players who place a premium on consumerism. As a society, we expect and value a consistent good to great experience when obtaining services from brands that garner our loyalty.
“In other words, we no longer value price and quality on their own. Consumer-driven expectations of healthcare are increasing exponentially, mostly as a result of how non-healthcare industries have reshaped our view of what a consumer experience looks like.’
Spreading the word on patient experience
“In the financial world of the Eighties and Nineties, it was all about making teams more efficient,” Steve explains. “Performance improvement was the overall title we gave it, but whatever we did – making the business digital, simplifying things – it was really all about delivering great customer experience.”
He’s taken this approach into his work in healthcare. “I’m proud that we are accelerating an understanding of how important patient experience is,” Steve said. “I work very directly with all levels of leadership and I make the time to help them understand why it’s worth focusing on.”
His first 90 days with the organization were spent just meeting individuals from all over the business, including across the health network’s academic medical centers. This turned into a wonderful opportunity to spread a message on what consumer experience is and how it relates to traditional patient experience; while also learning from some wonderfully smart leaders and physicians, to include building relationships that continue to grow.
“They felt like they already knew me, rather than me just being someone turning up down the road asking them to do something different,” he says.
Focusing on positive patient interactions
Steve’s goal is to create positive emotional experiences for our patients and guests. What we’re truly trying to do is to create an experience for our patients as guests that is as valuable – or in some cases, more valuable – than the product they’re actually buying,” Steve explained.
He breaks it down into three drivers:
- Delivering a high-quality product (clinical outcomes, which they do at Froedtert & MCW today)
- Demonstrating that they value patients’ time and their money
- Delivering positive emotional connections, while eliminating the negative
“We must deliver an experience that shows our patients that we value their time and money.”
“We need to eliminate consumer experiences that create increasing anxiety, anger, or distrust and constantly deliver positive experiences that delight patients and win their trust,” he said.
Making progress, even when it’s hard
Overcoming objections and pushing back against the status quo is sometimes necessary to make sure that customers get what they need. Steve’s approach is to challenge concerns with data.
“We had a series of individually-branded hospitals come under our branding as part of our organic growth and acquisitions, and there was concern by various individuals that changing this branding would upset the local community,” he explained. “How we convinced them that it would be the right move was by doing brand research, and finding that local patients valued a health system where they could have integrated access to the best of academic healthcare, not only a local community hospital.”
Why healthcare is due for a change
“Personally, I feel there are massive opportunities to deliver better value in healthcare through a focus on consistently good consumer experiences.
“Most everything that we know to be true for other industries is largely applicable to this one, but we’re just not making change fast enough.”
His ‘altruistic calling’ to Froedtert Health comes down to its approach to consumer-guided experience and its goal to transform healthcare with new tools and processes. That same drive made it easy for the organization to partner with Qualtrics.
“We needed a world-class Voice of Customer (VOC) platform,” Steve said. “One of my first tasks upon joining was to find a great one. And what attracted us to Qualtrics wasn’t just the platform – it was vital for us to make ourselves into an insights-led organization that would allow us to do really effective consumer design and experience work.”
My goal is to get healthcare to a place where it’s easy for patients as customers to find and obtain care, know that we value their time and money through the options we provide, and of course, demonstrate that we appreciate their business
Helping both patients and staff to experience better care
This approach isn’t just for the patients. In Steve’s opinion, there’s an ecosystem underlying patients, staff, and providers.
They call their insights platform, powered by Qualtrics XM, VOC-PSP for a reason. PSP stands for Patients, Staff, and Providers/Physicians – all of which have a customer relationship with each other. Understanding what these collective customers want truly drives engagement of their staff, providers, and physicians such that they can produce the experience their community wants and values.
It’s important that technology is transformative for everyone, particularly in healthcare. “Healthcare, as many know, is accelerating the level of burnout to unsustainable levels,” he commented.
“If we don’t find a way to deliver healthcare in a better way, we’re not doing our staff and physicians justice.”
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