What makes people willing to switch to a different medical facility to get higher-quality care? Laura Carabello offered some insights at The Alliance webinar, “Helping Employees Switch Providers in a Steerage Program,” on June 19, 2014.
Carabello is a nationally-known expert in medical travel programs designed to persuade employees and family members to switch to high-quality facilities for high-stakes procedures. She is the publisher and managing editor of Medical Travel Today for business audiences and Your Medical Travel for consumer audiences. Carabello is also the founder and principal owner of CPR Strategic Marketing and Communications in Elmwood Park, N.J.
Here are seven highlights from Carabello’s presentation.
- When you participate in a program that helps employees switch facilities, “you’re becoming a medical traveler and steering yourself and your employees in the right direction.”
- When people are willing to travel for better care, local hospitals pay attention. No longer is any one hospital simply competing with the hospital across town – now every hospital must compete with hospitals from across the state, in different states and even different countries.
- Focus on why medical travel can be in the employee’s best interests when sharing information about the opportunity to switch doctors and hospitals for high-quality care. Help employees and family members understand that higher quality care translates to better outcomes. Emphasize that the QualityPath® specialist will offer support and advice to employees and family members who are making appointments, transferring records and traveling to QualityPath provider sites.
- “Communicate, communicate, communicate.” If you’ve got an onsite clinic, share information there. The company intranet has great power in reaching employees. Use multiple channels to reach employees. Look for ways to effectively reach each and every worker, using tools such as the QualityPath communication toolkit that The Alliance plans to distribute in September.
- “Word of mouth in the workforce is very important.” Encourage employees who have traveled for better care to share their experiences. “Get the conversation going” and turn the group huddled around the water cooler into a way to spread the word.
- As you design your plan and pick your incentives, remember that it’s very important for employers to arrange for the spouse or other family members to travel with the patient. Keeping family members nearby will improve the patient experience.
- The Alliance’s QualityPath program is a form of medical travel because it identifies high-quality, fairly priced doctors and hospitals for high-stakes procedures and then asks employees and family members to switch to these caregivers. “The opportunities are incredible for the small to mid-sized employers,” Carabello said.