Healthcare Experience Blog

A new day at Catalyst Healthcare Research | Our SMG partnership

As you might have heard, the past month brought some big news for us at Catalyst Healthcare Research (CHR). On August 1, we were acquired by Service Management Group (SMG). Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time answering two main questions, both of which afford me the opportunity to deliver good news:

What’s going to stay the same?
When things like this happen, clients understandably get a little wary of how they’ll be affected. Fortunately, our new partnership will have minimal impact on how we serve our clients. We’re still the same company, and our team remains intact, which means clients will continue to benefit from our in-depth healthcare experience, extensive HIPAA-compliant research expertise, and commitment to delivering actionable insights.

Of course, you don’t make a move like this in an effort to maintain business as usual. As with any decision we make, one of the major determining factors was the potential long-term benefit for our clients—which brings us to the second question.

What’s going to change?
A major trend right now is the increasing “retailization” of the healthcare industry, which means that organizations are beginning to see—and serve—patients more as true consumers. Convenience matters. Cost matters. Experience matters. The ramifications of this trend obviously reach our clients, who have to make sure they deliver patient experiences that inspire loyalty and uphold their reputations as leading healthcare providers. That’s where SMG comes in.

Partnering with more than 450 brands across a variety of service industries, SMG helps clients measure and improve customer and employee experiences in ways that drive loyalty and revenues. With more than 150 client insights professionals and 25 advanced-degree researchers on staff, SMG offers an invaluable wealth of knowledge our clients will be able to draw on as the healthcare industry mirrors the retail model more and more.

Just as importantly, SMG combines that insight expertise with an industry-leading data collection, warehousing, and reporting technology platform. That makes it easy for people to complete surveys, for internal researchers to analyze the data, and for clients to access and share the data with real-time dashboards, configurable reports, and even an industry-leading mobile reporting app. In short, our clients will be able to hear from more consumers and take action on their feedback more quickly than ever before.

A mutually beneficial partnership

Having entered the healthcare space in 2011 with a ratings and review site based on patient surveys, SMG already works with a number of clients that incorporate healthcare-related services into their retail operations. With ongoing and significant consolidation across the healthcare ecosystem, they knew it couldn’t be a better time to expand within the space. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2025, 1 in every 5 dollars in the U.S. will be spent on healthcare services. The SMG-CHR partnership offers significant benefits for both companies, and we can’t wait to see what it means for our current and future clients.

If you’d like to learn more about our new partner, I’d encourage you to start here.

Dan Prince
Vice President, Customer Engagement

Americans Believe that Healthy Eating Matters

According to a national study we did jointly with ad agency ndp, almost 3 out of 4 Americans believe that they should eat healthy foods and meals. They know that this matters, in terms of their own health. They told us so.

Yet, CDC statistics confirm the fact that at least two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.

The contradiction is startling, and if the trend line in terms of obesity is not reversed, we’re on our way toward even higher levels of heart disease and diabetes.

In our study, which focused on what consumers have to say on the general topic of “population health,” 71% selected eating healthy foods as one of the three most important ways to maintain or improve their own health. We also learned that 62% consider regular exercise an important contributor to better health. Click here to see the infographic that summarizes key results.

Our results show that, overall, a majority of people know what’s right–and yet have difficulty eating and exercising in ways that would increase their health, wellbeing, and longevity.

What’s holding us back, as individuals and society? My thoughts:

• Habits. Once set, they are hard to break. I drank sweet tea with lunch for years, until I realized this was something I needed to forego. Now, it’s water, at least most days!

• Anxiety/Stress. Under pressure, we often resort to eating comfort foods and reaching for drinks that may have lots of calories and/or sugar (wine, cookies). In my case, it’s chocolate that’s a magnet.

• Expense. Healthier foods often do cost more. Checked the price of fresh spinach lately? Or salmon, plucked from the sea? Healthier forms of lettuce cost more than basic iceberg. Cost is an obstacle for many in our country.

• Advertising. I’ve not seen a study, but I’m guessing that the amount of money spent on advertising products like soft drinks, chips, beer, etc. far outweighs that spent on buying fresh produce, farm-raised beef and other healthier choices.

• Societal Cues. Think about what we see in the movies, on television, and elsewhere. For example, how often is an actor portrayed drinking some form of alcohol?

While consumers see an important role for themselves in maintaining or improving their own health, we all seem to need help in actually exhibiting the behaviors that lead in that direction.

Survey results above are from A Consumer’s View of Population Health, an online study of just over 1,000 adults.  It was funded jointly by Catalyst Healthcare Research and ndp.

Our Study Shows More People, More Attention Devoted to Patient Experience

In 2011, only 13% of respondents to a biannual survey of hospital leaders said their organization had a Chief Experience Officer (CXO) with responsibility for overseeing patient experience improvements. That figure grew to 22% in 2013, and to 42% in 2015, and to 58% in the most recent results (2017).

That dramatic increase is accompanied by other stats that show how healthcare organizations are attempting to become more patient-centric. For example, the number of respondents from U.S. hospitals indicating that their organization has a formal patient & family advisory council jumped from 32% in 2013 to 62% this year. This is in addition to input they get from formal surveying approaches.

Obtaining direct and immediate feedback from hospital patients while they are in the hospital is another indicator that an increasing number of healthcare leaders are serious about hearing the voice of their customer. The number of U.S. hospitals reporting the use of bedside surveying grew from 42% in 2011 to 47% in 2017.

All of these results come from a recurring survey process initiated by The Beryl Institute in partnership with our firm Catalyst Healthcare Research. Surveys from 2011 through 2017 document what hospitals and other healthcare organizations have been doing to understand, measure, and improve the patient experience. They are the largest studies of their kind in the world.

To learn more about how Patient Experience is being addressed both within the U.S. and globally, visit The Beryl Institute or download a summary of the 2017 results here. It’s an impressive picture.

Employee Engagement Now a Key Priority for Patient Experience Leaders

Results from the 2017 worldwide State of Patient Experience study* reveal that “employee engagement” is now a major priority for healthcare organizations worldwide, based on hearing from more than 1,000 healthcare professionals in the largest study of its kind.

“Patient Experience” –broadly defined to include quality care, patient safety, and great customer service– is still seen as the top priority at health systems both in the U.S. and abroad.   This continues a trend wherein patient experience has been viewed as a “top three” organizational priority since 2011, the first year in which our study was conducted.

The big news this year though is that the theme of “engaging employees” has emerged for the first time as one of the top three priorities, coming in a solid number 2.  In addition, when asked in an open-ended question what organizations are focusing on to improve the PX, “employee engagement” was a very frequent answer.

It’s clear that hospitals and healthcare organizations recognize the importance of taking care of the staff who take care of patients.

Healthcare professionals, especially those working in high-intensity settings including hospitals, endure abnormal levels of stress as they seek to use the latest advances in medicine, juggle multiple demands, and assure patient safety and comfort.

It should come as no surprise that another finding from this year’s study is that 33% of U.S. hospitals are reporting that employee and physician overload and even “burnout” has become a serious issue.  These issues have also been widely reported in the trade press—and are confirmed by friends and colleagues who work in healthcare.

The study shows that there are multiple challenges in achieving better experiences and outcomes for patients—but the results also show that much progress has been made since the initial study seven years ago.

More than ever, PX is becoming part of the culture of the organization, not some separate initiative or “flavor of the month.”  Ultimately, that’s good for employees—and for the patients they serve.


*The Beryl Institute 2017 State of Patient Experience Study, conducted in partnership with Catalyst Healthcare Research.

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