How One Health Plan Boosted Employee Satisfaction Through Information Technology

By Kim Curley, vice president, workforce readiness, NTT DATA Services.

In today’s era of high staffing turnover and talent shortages, keeping employee satisfaction high is one of the biggest challenges for any business. So how can an organization ensure that its most important assets — its people — are happy and productive?

There are many ways to address this, but one that is often overlooked is by focusing on tools and technology to empower your workforce. By prioritizing efficiency and engagement at every point of interaction, you can increase productivity and satisfaction across all levels of your organization.

Foster Efficiency Through Proactive Processes and Improvements

Most employees are impacted by ordering and procurement processes immediately. It is all too common to have new hires report to work only to find that they do not have the right equipment to get started, or have the equipment but no access, hindering training and starting off with a negative IT experience.

When we dig deeper into how the user experience affects healthcare employee satisfaction, we can see how IT infrastructure and processes extend beyond the user interface. In industries like healthcare and health insurance, where security and regulatory compliance is paramount, you must also ensure that the right people are getting access to the system at the right time.

For example, when a claim processor logs in to work, it is not just about the system quickly knowing what they need. The system also needs to know who they are and what access they need – whether they are working in the office, at home or another remote location. All of that should be built into the system to streamline processes for employees and foster greater efficiency.

This is especially important in today’s modern workplace, where employees now expect their interaction with technology, and frankly with anything they use on a regular basis, to be like their user experience with Amazon or Netflix or other easy to use apps. The user experience must be top notch at every touchpoint to create easier and more intuitive interactions every time they log in.

Address Employee Issues More Efficiently

One of the biggest factors in the employee experience, whether in the healthcare space or otherwise, is request and incident resolution. Whether an employee is trying to update personal information or inquire about certain apps or devices that are not working, having an IT team that can quickly address their issues is key to maximizing employee productivity and satisfaction.

One of our clients, Independent Health, had this challenge. The company, which serves the Western New York area, is one of the highest rated health plans in the US for its clinical quality and member satisfaction. A big reason for Independent Health’s success is its unwavering commitment to exceptional customer service, and that extends to serving its own employees and associates as well.

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, Independent Health had already collaborated with the NTT DATA team to lay the groundwork for a digital workplace through initiatives such as its migration from a business hours-only help desk to a 24/7 service desk for its associates. This included building out a knowledge base so that the service desk would be able to achieve first call resolution for nearly every question from any of Independent Health’s associates, whether the interaction was by phone, email or chat.

“Our first call resolution rate, which was 55 to 60% before the initiative, kept seeing steady increases when it all went live. It is now near 80%, which is huge for our associates,” says Joshua Zalen, VP of IT Service Operations at Independent Health. “Any time we don’t get a first call resolution, we take a look at whether or not we are likely to get that question again, and then we convert that into knowledge for the future.”

Proactively identifying problems through constant monitoring also benefits both employees and IT support teams. By using analytics and AI, devices in the system that might be defective or reaching failure are identified before they become an issue. This minimizes workflow disruptions and lessens the need to request support in the first place.

Experience-Based Service Level Agreements

Finally, Joshua recommends that “organizations develop experience-based service level agreements (XLAs) that focus on the user experience so that IT functions align with business drivers for end user satisfaction.” Unlike traditional service level agreements, which emphasize metrics such as production, uptime, speed and volume, XLAs focus more on the human side of the equation. The goal shifts to maximizing user satisfaction and engagement and provides for a holistic solution to end user IT needs.

By using XLAs as a foundation, healthcare organizations can get 360-degree perspectives of their end users, which enables more proactive support and gives users the feeling that their needs are being personally attended to. This is especially useful in today’s modern workplace, where hybrid or fully remote setups have become more common. XLAs can help keep that personal touch between IT support teams and the company’s end users.

One example of these principles being implemented at Independent Health is the protocol where the service desk system sends a survey after every call or ticket. The feedback received from these surveys is then used to further improve the knowledge base as well as the overall processes of the service desk.

“After we digest the feedback, we reach back out to the user to say thank you. We let them know what we learned and tell them about what changes we made to improve on our service, or double down on existing processes that the user said they really liked,” Joshua explains. “And this was reflected in our annual survey of IT satisfaction, where we saw overall satisfaction increase by around 15 points. This speaks to the power of establishing that close connection and feedback channel with your internal stakeholders.”

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