At Children's Health, 'consumer-centricity' is more than just a business strategy: 4 questions with CXO Keri Kaiser

Keri Kaiser is senior vice president of marketing and communications, chief marketing officer and chief experience officer at Children's Health.

In her role at the Dallas-based pediatric health system, Ms. Kaiser oversees patient-facing innovations and initiatives, all designed with a goal of improving the experience not only for patients and their caregivers, but also for every team member at Children's Health.

"Our organization is rapidly evolving into a leading consumer-centric healthcare system by employing technological innovation to anticipate and fulfill the needs of our patient families like never before, married with a shift in perspective that engages, enables and empowers each and every member of our organization to become the difference for our patients, for those who love them, and for those who enable and provide their care," she told Becker's Hospital Review.

Here, Ms. Kaiser discusses how Children's Health is using technology and data analytics to shape and improve the patient experience.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What is an ongoing or upcoming health IT initiative or investment that you're most excited about?

Keri Kaiser: One initiative I'm extremely excited about is our new Children's Health mobile app. This digital wayfinding app addresses a fundamental consumer pain point by helping patient families seamlessly identify and navigate to all Children's Health facilities, find convenient parking and mark their spot, receive real-time indoor guidance to any location throughout our three hospitals and two on-campus specialty centers, and easily access MyChart. In fact, we're currently working on the second phase of the app, a significant upgrade that will offer full integration with MyChart to provide even more robust functionality tailored directly to each consumer based on their unique preferences, healthcare journey and exact location within our system at any given moment, including the ability to directly schedule appointments. 

Q: What do you believe is the biggest challenge currently facing healthcare? What are you doing to address it?

KK: There are numerous disruptive forces impacting all providers in the healthcare industry today, particularly among pediatric health systems. A key challenge that has deeply shaped my work is the way our industry is struggling to adapt to the new reality: Healthcare consumers are more informed and involved in their care than ever before, with a heightened demand for not only safe, high-quality care, but also an exceptional experience from start to finish. At Children's Health, we've chosen to look at this fundamental shift as an opportunity, which we've leveraged through our "become the difference" campaign: a sweeping, comprehensive campaign that engages all team members in providing an exceptional experience to every patient and family.

This successful initiative is equal parts educational, informational and inspirational, and has begun to foster an environment where employees are empowered and encouraged to go above and beyond for one another and those we serve. Energized by the momentum we've achieved even in this early stage of our journey, we are determined to strategically embed this aspiration into the DNA of Children's Health, ensuring patient experience isn't a short-term fad, but an inside-out transformation that's passionately embraced by our more than 10,000 team members, physicians and volunteers.

Q: How does your role overlap with those of IT leaders and other executives at Children's Health? How much collaboration is there between your role and theirs?

KK: Managing the full scope of consumer-centricity efforts for a healthcare system as large and complex as Children's Health has required implementation of a dramatic cultural change, bridging the gap between consumer needs and organizational operations while empowering diverse departments and stakeholders to make swift, sustaining experience improvements.

I lead a team of nearly 80 members who work closely with leaders and executives across the organization in their consumer-centricity efforts, which includes promoting an enhanced experience for all of our colleagues, as we know that more engaged staff and physicians are naturally more likely to deliver a strategically differentiated experience for our patients and those who love them. In addition, we are also collaborating with every department throughout our system to develop a deep, data-driven understanding of customer preferences and pain points, and implementing targeted initiatives to drive patient acquisition, loyalty and satisfaction.

These innovations are, of course, dependent on strong, productive relationships between the office of experience, marketing and communications, operations teams, various Insights Centers, and technology and digital leadership. This integrated, multidisciplinary approach has led to critical improvements in existing offerings like Epic, MyChart, on-campus wireless coverage and inpatient engagement platforms, in addition to continual innovation like the mobile app, self-service registration kiosks, unique charging solutions and virtual visits.

Q: What are some health IT trends that you think will continue or grow even more important in the future?

KK: A recent study from the International Data Association predicts that by the end of 2019, 65 percent of healthcare transactions will be mobile, meaning patient families increasingly expect a convenient, consistent experience across websites, telephone interactions and mobile device use. I believe we'll see this need emerge most profoundly as it relates to patient access.

Children's Health has undertaken a tremendous access improvement project to redesign scheduling processes, facilitating improved scheduling utilization rates and providing consumers with quick, simple methods of requesting and reserving appointments. We've made substantial progress in our work to optimize access in a relatively short time with an ambitious, multifaceted approach that is helping clinics reduce the times patient families must wait for appointments, simplifying the referral process for external providers and supporting our telehealth initiatives in school districts throughout North Texas. Perhaps most importantly, these enhancements are facilitating our ability to pilot online self-scheduling options on both desktop and mobile, a critical consumer offering we intend to refine and expand across our organization throughout the remainder of 2019 and into 2020.

I think sometimes it's easy to get lost in the complexity of this topic, particularly from a technological perspective, but the bottom line is that improving access for consumers and referring providers means more families will have the opportunity to receive the world-class care available at Children's Health, while also enjoying the world-class, compassionate experience every child and family deserve. Our organization recognizes that consumer-centricity isn't just smart business; it's the way we can fully realize our mission of making life better for children.

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