Vishal Bhalla, Vice President and Chief Experience Officer at Parkland Health and Hospital System, examined how the patient experience impacts the employee experience – and vice-versa – during his keynote presentation to Argyle's Customer Experience (CX) membership at the 2018 CX Leadership Forum in Dallas on Feb. 7. In his presentation, "How Employee Experience Impacts Patient Experience," Bhalla offered insights into how Parkland staff members connect with patients and provide them with memorable experiences.
According to Bhalla, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that an organization can use to foster meaningful client interactions. Instead, an organization must identify industry challenges and work with customers to address these issues.
"When it comes to customer experience tactics where the rubber meets the road, we have some challenges," Bhalla said. "There's no cookie-cutter approach to the customer experience. We need to strategize for customer service."
With an open approach to patient engagement, Parkland has been able to provide its patients with exceptional customer service. Parkland employees take the time to learn about patients to provide them with what they need when they need it.
Furthermore, Parkland deals with limited time and resources. To address this problem, Parkland encourages staff members to focus on what is most important: the health and well-being of its patients.
"The commodity we deal with is life, and if we make a mistake, there are serious consequences," Bhalla stated. "Resources are very tight because we don't turn everyone away. An increase in volume is [not always ideal]."
Understanding patient needs differentiates Parkland from other healthcare providers, as employees anticipate and address patient requests without delay.
"We don't do employee experience surveys every month … but we can learn about what's going on from our employees at the front line."
For example, the Parkland team ensures consistent shift coverage is in place. Parkland understands limited staff coverage makes it tough for employees to deliver outstanding patient support. As such, Parkland does everything possible to avoid lapses in shift coverage – something that benefits both patients and employees.
"What impacts employee engagement," Bhalla said, "is shift coverage ... You need to identify what impacts employee engagement and what impacts employees."
Parkland collects patient and employee data to identify patterns and trends, which play a key role in patient support, then implements changes to its CX strategies as needed.
"We are able to put a value on customer experience metrics," Bhalla indicated. "We are also doing deep dives so we can understand what the employee experiences on a daily basis."
Emotional overlays are crucial as well. These overlays offer insights into how employees and patients feel about the organization. Therefore, emotional overlays give Parkland insights that enhance its patient and employee experience strategies.
"We are doing emotional overlays to understand the customer experience, and we are doing emotional overlays to understand the employee experience," Bhalla said. "The next step is evaluating changes in the employee experience and evaluating feedback from patients."
Although many organizations deploy employee experience surveys, relying exclusively on these assessments to find ways to improve the employee experience is insufficient, regardless of an organization's size and industry. Conversely, organizations must analyze employee feedback regularly and implement this feedback into their everyday operations.
"We don't do employee experience surveys every month … but we can learn about what's going on from our employees at the front line," Bhalla noted. "And if you have solutions, you need to have solutions that are going to be contextualized and implemented by the people who are going to use them."
Open-ended questions can make a world of difference for organizations that want to improve the employee experience too.
"There's no cookie-cutter approach to the customer experience. We need to strategize for customer service."
Asking employees how they feel about an organization and what can be done to improve the employee experience is pivotal. Plus, if an organization searches for ways to connect the employee experience to its mission and goals, it may be able to improve the employee experience.
"You can do different interventions in different areas and see what works best," Bhalla said. "Ask your employees what is important to them. Try to derive everything from your mission and position."
Lastly, communication is crucial for an organization that wants to enhance the employee experience. Managers and employees can work together and learn from one another. As a result, both parties can determine the best ways to improve the employee experience and deliver amazing client experiences time and time again.
"If you are communicating things that are important to employees," Bhalla finished, "you can build trust over a period of time."
Vishal Bhalla joined Parkland in August 2016 and soon moved into the role of Vice President and Chief Experience Officer (CXO), focusing on the experience of employees, patients, families and providers.
Transitioning to healthcare from a successful career in hospitality, Vishal completed his Master of Business Administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) along with a Healthcare Certificate from the joint Harvard-MIT Healthcare Innovation Initiative. Vishal also serves on the Dallas Fort Worth Hospital Council, representing Parkland as the Chair for the Workforce Collaborative.
Vishal is passionate about leveraging his Quant and System Science skills, along with his hospitality experience, to enable meaningful employee and patient experiences.
Prior to coming to Parkland, Mr. Bhalla was the Director of Operations for a Hospitality firm overseeing twelve facilities with over 6000 rooms. He has worked on four continents and also previously served as a Director for Sandals Resorts International. He possesses a Masters in Hotel Administration from University of Strathclyde and a General Managers’ Program certification from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.