Tim Dybvig is Co-Founder and CEO of Calibrater Health, a health tech company that provides patient engagement and feedback tools for providers. We’re highlighting them as another example of a bright spot company solving very specific operational efficiency problems. In this case, figuring out how to collect, analyze and use real-time feedback to improve services. Please note that Calibrater Health is in the portfolio of our sister company Jumpstart Foundry.
We’re a fan of any tool that actually drives behavior change. Part of Calibrater’s appeal is that it essentially gamefies aspects of the patient feedback process, giving clinicians a look at their performance both in near-realtime and as a trend. By seeing “scores,” providers are incentivized to improve.
*Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity
What is the problem you’re solving
The goal of Calibrater Health is to operationalize truly patient-centered care. [Co-founder] Dr. Adam Groth had worked at a major hospital and was very used to intermittent paper-based surveys and the feedback from that. He would get a quarterly report with a handful of comments after seeing hundreds or thousands of patients, and it was not that helpful.
We knew we could do better, so we started with text messaging [to collect patient feedback]. We very quickly realized that it’s not just about collecting the feedback, it’s about making sure you’re doing something with it, getting value out of it, distributing it to the team.
What does the platform do?
Calibrater Health makes patient experience management software for healthcare that combines text-based patient surveys with an automated, closed-loop issue tracking and feedback management system.
Our algorithms automatically categorize and route patient comments for follow-up and immediate action, we calculate patient experience scores at the provider and site level, send your happiest patients to post on social media, and our 100% web-based system makes sure that doctors never miss a chance to save an unhappy patient or improve their practice.
How do you convert patient experience to operational gains?
If you can create a better patient experience, they’re going to be better patients. They’re going to be more adherent, going to listen to you, going to come back less, going to cost the system less.
What are the numbers on how patient experience improves the business?
Everyone wants to know what the right number is, what a good NPS [Net Promoter Score] is, when they are going to be making a lot more money. Unfortunately, the unsatisfying answer is there is no magic, universal number. NPS has natural variations – largely by geography but also urban vs rural.
What’s more important is that you have a baseline that you’re measuring so you know when things are improving or getting worse.
We do have evidence from people who have been on the platform for a year or more and they are seeing five to eight more visits per day. Now, is that only Calibrater Health? It could be natural growth of the business. A lot of urgent care centers take two to three years to hit maturity.
However, we can say for sure that the quicker people are responding to feedback the more likely that patient is to return, up to a factor of two.
Our feedback management includes a system that will automatically alert people to a negative experience, but also just a request. When a patient says, “I want to refill my prescriptions, schedule another appointment,” whatever it is, if you respond to that request within 24 hours, that patient is twice as likely to come back than if you let it go for three or four days.
How does the Calibrater Health platform affect the provider team?
We have found a pretty creative way to use the patient feedback is to engage the clinicians. This is interesting because it reframes patient satisfaction a little bit. The biggest line item for any healthcare organization is their clinicians, right? So if you can decrease turnover and increase satisfaction, then that is a great cost savings mechanism.
We have a suite of alerts for clinicians to interact with our system and see their scores. We can say for sure that clinician who interact with our system more – so I would argue a more engaged clinician – have consistently higher NPS scores. We don’t have the full financial analysis but the goal is for those higher scores meaning a more engaged clinician who is less likely to get burned out and leave the company, saving the company money.
Talk more about the value of real-time feedback
It’s a shift in mindset as far as making an organization truly patient-centric because it moves from being an academic exercise where you get quarterly feedback to responding more quickly. Surveys go out and people can respond in real time. Over 98% of our responses come in within the first few hours.
It also helps people to be more regularly focused on the patient. Our system gives organizations tools where they’re seeing this information every day and they’re able to make smaller decisions at the operational level. It reminds everyone that the reason they’re here is for the patients.
How do you structure the optimal survey?
The most obvious upside to a shorter survey is the higher response rate. We get, on average, about a 36% response rate on the NPS question. Of those people, about half of them leave a written comment so 15%-17% of a patient population is leaving written feedback.
What’s powerful about NPS is that it’s not asking a specific question, it’s open ended. It allows you to gather feedback on all kinds of things even though you’re not asking ten questions about parking, billing, etc. You’re still going to hear about those things because you’re hearing from so many people.
There’s also an argument to be made that because you’re not asking leading questions, the answer is more likely to be their real feelings. They’re not having to come up with an opinion on ten different things.
We have rolled out our Smart Survey System. That’s basically the ability to add additional questions and do a deep dive into each area. For example, a customer wanted to know whether clinicians had washed their hands or not. They wanted to figure out which locations were better and which needed some help. But the point is they were only seeing that one extra [yes/no] question, and they can prioritize what to fix first.
How does Calibrater Health process that feedback?
There are two big things that our system does. First is automated topic analysis. We started in urgent care because that’s where most of our business is, and we developed algorithms that will automatically figure out all the common data and the themes coming from that data. We can then compare all the data equally and tell a customer, “this location has a harder time with wait times than other Calibrater customers” or “this location has a bigger problem with clinicians who are rushed.”
“The second thing we do is automatically categorize the survey response based on the type of follow up that’s required, so our customers know how to prioritize those items and their time. Our algorithms can detect when comments are Complaints, Requests, Suggestions or Compliments. We then assign each of those to users of the system to make it super easy for them to know who they need to reach out to as soon as they log into the system.”
There are a lot of reputation and feedback management companies out there. What’s your key differentiator?
We’re pretty straightforward with our customers that we are never going to be a fully featured reputation management solution. That is not what we are aspiring to be. If you think about it from a social media standpoint, we’re never going to be the dashboard where you log in and you see your Google Score and your Healthgrades and your Vitals and you can respond to your Facebook requests and Twitter.
We do have those features. We certainly offer them and we can help get more online reviews or publish the reviews to help with Google star ratings and search results. But we partner with companies who do it better than we do. Our promise to our customers is that we’re always going to be about the operational piece of your business. Because we have the patient’s attention we will do everything we can to direct them to social media outlets. But for the folks who want the full experience in reputation management, we partner with people. We partner with Reputation.com, with Birdeye, and if someone has contracts with both of us we’ll share data with them.
Who’s your ideal customer?
The customer who will get the most value from our product is a multi-unit retail-style healthcare company. What does that mean? Healthcare businesses that have many locations doing similar things (and are often in growth mode, adding more locations each year) where patient experience is a business imperative, not just a nice to have. These companies are trying to grow their business but also manage patient experience and provider engagement at scale, and our system gives them all the tools they need to keep patients happy and teams engaged, and scale successfully.