‘Customer Ownership’ at the Forefront in Alaska

In addition to engaging customer-owners individually, SCF takes steps to engage with the community. It hosts the Annual Gathering, a showcase of SCF’s programs and services. The Gathering provides health education information and celebrates culture through traditional dance groups and art vendors. With representation from partnering Alaska Native communities, advisory committees provide input and direction on SCF’s corporate initiatives, as well as other aspects of its services. One example is the Village Services Management Team, which is a liaison between SCF and representatives from the rural villages it serves. In addition, an Elder Council ensures SCF’s programs and services are meeting the needs of its growing Elder population.

With over 15 listening posts, SCF continuously collects feedback and uses this information to drive organizational change and improvement. SCF gathers feedback from the community through surveys and a 24-hour customer service hotline. Customer satisfaction surveys are delivered on tablets to collect daily customer experience and satisfaction data, which is used to benchmark and make immediate improvements when appropriate. These surveys consist of 12 questions that can be tailored to departments; the results are tied to each care team and kept confidential.

Another tool is an employee satisfaction survey, which gathers data to improve work processes and promote happiness in the workplace. This supports employee performance and links to customer satisfaction data, since approximately 55% of SCF employees are customer-owners. Additionally, an electronic-reporting database is used to capture qualitative feedback, document resolutions, and quantify the feedback being received. SCF incorporates this data into its strategic planning cycle and ensures the voice of the customer-owner is the driving force for change.

Customer-owner engagement at SCF has resulted in improved health outcomes. ER visits for customer-owners decreased by 36% between 2000 and 2015. During that same period, hospital admissions for customer-owners also decreased by 36%. SCF exceeds the Healthcare Effectiveness Data Information Set 90th percentile in measures such as diabetes LDL < 100 and HPV vaccine for female adolescents. Ninety-six percent of customer-owners are satisfied with the care provided by SCF, 96% agree they have input into their care decisions, and 94% agree their culture and traditions are respected. SCF’s experience shows that engaging people, both on a personal and a community level, can lead to positive health outcomes for whole populations.

*SCF was established by Cook Inlet Region, Inc., in 1982 to improve the health and social conditions of Alaska Native people, enhance culture, and empower individuals and families to take charge of their lives. In 1997, under provisions of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (P.L. 93-638), SCF assumed control of the healthcare system formerly operated by the Indian Health Service in its designated geographic service area. Gradually, SCF increased its compact agreement capacity within the Anchorage Service Unit.

Donna Galbreath is a family practitioner and the medical director of quality assurance for SCF. She provides direction in strategic planning and development of SCF’s comprehensive quality assurance program to ensure optimal healthcare delivery. Galbreath may be contacted at dgalbreath@southcentralfoundation.com.