This past August, we launched a new clinic for the Anchorage School District (ASD) in Anchorage, Alaska. We wanted to take you “inside” that recent clinic launch, by talking to Vera customer success manager Ben Slager about his observations, lessons learned, and feedback on the clinic launch process.
Q: What were the most effective messages and vehicles for communicating about the new clinic to employees?
Ben: Every client has a distinct population and a unique challenge of how to communicate with employees in the best way. ASD was no different. Their employee population is diverse and spread out among several different locations. We found that printed communications (posters) were just as useful as email communication. We created large-format posters that were placed all across the school district. These posters, in conjunction with our mailed-home welcome packet and introductory email series, really helped us communicate about the clinic launch.
Q: Were there any employee objections to the new clinic and if so, how did you overcome them?
Ben: We had to build trust with employees. We launched the clinic before the complete clinical team was in place and had limited access for the first 4-6 weeks. Our team addressed these concerns in our early engagement materials and were able to be transparent with patients as we ramped up to becoming fully staffed. In other clinic launches, employees have been concerned about patient privacy. In each circumstance, the key is to ask questions, listen, and then communicate consistently to make things as clear as possible. As always, doing is better than telling, and the clinic experience helps overcome many employee objections over time.
Q: What employee feedback did you receive in the first month of clinic operations?
Ben: Once we got employees into the clinic, there were overwhelmingly positive responses. Employees loved the amount of time they got to spend with their providers. Vera providers also know the ASD benefits better than anyone and can use that information to help patients save money, and refer them to the best outside specialists.
The clinic was built in a brand-new building and the space is comforting and beautiful. That really improved the patient experience, which was reflected in our high patient satisfaction results.
Q: If you were to launch an on-site clinic again, knowing what you now know, what would you do differently?
Ben: It’s critical that we have as many of the clinic staff in place before launching the clinic. If that’s not possible, it’s important to manage expectations around access and capacity. As with any large undertaking, like building a clinic, it’s not unheard of for something, at some point, to cause a challenge that requires attention. Being able to respond quickly and communicate proactively is important, whatever the hiccup.
Q: What is the most surprising thing you learned throughout the clinic launch process?
Ben: It’s not surprising, but once people get the chance to experience the Vera model, they love it. Our biggest struggles are getting them there: whether that’s due to their initial reservations or because of capacity issues.