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Changing Healthcare from Within

Written by Alida

Published June 16, 2022


The partnership between Piedmont Healthcare and Alida has resulted in a new CX prescription to strengthen the patient experience.


In industries rife with disruption, the future rests on the ability to continuously learn and quickly adjust to changing customer needs. The healthcare industry was already undergoing a digital transformation when COVID-19 accelerated everything. For the workforce, everything changed from ground level to the C-Suite. Throw in new customer needs and you have a whole new ballgame.

To earn loyal and long-lasting customers, it takes more than just adopting new technologies and hoping for the best. The approach must be integrated so that all solutions work in unison.


We know that technology doesn’t drive disruption, customers do. The most successful companies are the ones that identify emerging customer needs quicker than their competition. With the help of Alida Total Experience Management (TXM), Piedmont Healthcare was able to do just that. In five years, Piedmont went from seven hospitals to 19. This kind of growth doesn’t happen by chance.


Harnessing the power of the insight community

With so much disruption and a growing divide between how different demographics prefer to receive healthcare, providers had to get serious about patient feedback: “We knew we needed to listen to and learn from our patients,” Piedmont Healthcare’s Director of Insight and Analytics Bennett Lee acknowledges. 

Given the sensitive nature of the industry, sourcing people willing to voluntarily share their feedback is hard. And once you have a group willing to share, dealing with that volume of data can be difficult and overwhelming.

With the Alida platform, Piedmont Healthcare was able to build a loyal body of respondents, the Piedmont Advisors, a community 3,589 members strong. The feedback allowed the healthcare provider to understand the changing customer and industry needs. Feedback was quickly and regularly collected, all on one easy-to-use platform.

According to Lee, Alida TXM’s Insight Community provided Piedmont Healthcare with the ability to segment audiences to get relevant insights, further accelerating the process. 

Their insight community also helped Piedmont Healthcare create surveys and test them internally, to introduce new features and gather feedback. This process allowed Piedmont to come up with a better website, one with a customized search engine and easily accessible services.

In addition, Piedmont Healthcare used another Alida product, Touchpoint, to create microsurveys on their website to increase engagement.


Prioritizing proactivity and speed

Speed alone won’t get you the desired results. You don’t want general feedback, you want the right feedback. 

Healthcare marketing is not a core functionality (providing service is). Although marketing hasn’t traditionally played a key role in healthcare, now that the industry has become competitive, everything has changed. Even local clinics are doing it. Bottom line: in a post-COVID world, marketing is a necessity.

In the case of Piedmont Healthcare, each of their 19 hospitals has different core strengths and needs. Because the industry doesn’t have a marketing or insight-minded culture, reaction time is slow, three to four months at best. “We have a lot of last minute, ad hoc requests so timing matters. We have to create campaigns in a very short time frame,” Bennett Lee explains.

One of the factors in the reaction time is determining what are the right questions to ask. Understanding what you want to know and how to ask for it is crucial. And getting it right the first time accelerates the process.

Enter Piedmont Advisors: “We have over 3,500 members and given the forty percent response rate, I need over 200 participants for each survey wave”, reveals Bennett Lee. “Because I don’t want to ask the same question week after week, I rely on the Alida platform to filter and segment the groups.”


Sentiment tracking

In healthcare, there’s no such thing as one-size-fits all. For Piedmont Healthcare, this became clear when the pandemic came. Says Lee: “We wanted to know how our patients wanted to receive care. We couldn’t rely on generic info. We needed to learn from them directly.”

While collecting feedback, Piedmont discovered that elders were more likely to get vaccinated than younger generations. Knowing this, they were able to focus their efforts on vaccine education amongst key audiences. 


The full circle feedback approach

Sharing insights with all areas of the business is important. When Piedmont Healthcare shared patient vaccination rates with their employees, there was a huge internal vaccination uptick.

When conducting the full circle feedback method, Piedmont Healthcare took a two fold approach:

  1. Communicate not only with patients and physicians, but non-medical staff as well.
  2. Proactively provide medical staff what they need.

The insight team can’t be the only one consuming insights. In order to gain credibility and make a positive impact, you need to rise above simply meeting expectations. Insights are the assets that can help you exceed them.

These are the patient experience insights that triggered change:

  • Office visits: Once sentiment tracking kicked in, annual physician visits were pushed back, as well as non-serious diseases’ consultations. As a result, six months later, office visit numbers were even better than pre-pandemic. By late 2020, Piedmont had recovered.
  • Website portal: In surveys conducted in 2017 and 2019, Piedmont asked users what features they wanted and were willing to use, and evaluated how perception had changed in between. This focus led to a patient portal activation rate of 60 to 70%.
  • Patient experience committees: Selected patients got to share their ideas and feedback with the specific hospital they were treated at. 


Key takeaways


  1. Ask the right questions before your customers tell you what they want. Listen to the market to see what’s on the horizon and get ahead of them.
  2. Speed and scalability are the only way to grow effectively. You can’t afford to wait. 
  3. For insights to work, they must transcend the team that generated them. Employees and customers can and must benefit from the discoveries. Empower your team and show your patients that you’re listening.


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