I was fortunate enough to attend a great event hosted by the Department of Interior’s Federal Consulting Group (FCG) entitled 2011 Government Customer Satisfaction Forum. During this event, FCG unveiled the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) annual results for the Federal Government and recognized the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) in the Bureau of Clinician Recruitment and Service (BCRS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for its comprehensive use of customer satisfaction feedback in its program management (hence their 2010 Award!).
The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) helps every U.S. State and most territories to provide desperately needed primary health care in areas where providers are in short supply by awarding scholarships and loan repayment to clinicians in exchange for at least 2 years service in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). Since 1972, more than 37,000 medical, dental and behavioral health providers have served in the Corps, expanding access to health care services and improving the health of people who live in urban, rural, and frontier areas where care is scarce. All members of the NHSC serve at one of more than 10,000 NHSC approved sites.
Can you provide a few examples of NHSC approved sites?
These sites, which range from Federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics, to Indian Health Service sites and more, are all located in HPSAs and deliver primary care services to patients regardless of their ability to pay. About half of all NHSC clinicians work in Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)-supported Health Centers. About 40 percent of Health Center patients have no health insurance.
What do NHSC members receive?
Members of the NHSC receive financial assistance through educational loan repayment or scholarship, as well as networking and educational resources to support their work as primary care clinicians serving in underserved communities. The NHSC Loan Repayment Program offers fully trained primary care physicians (MD or DO), family nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, physician assistants, dentists, dental hygienists, and certain mental health clinicians up to $60,000 to repay student loans in exchange for 2 years of service at an approved NHSC site. After completing their initial service commitment, loan repayment award recipients may apply for additional years of support. The NHSC scholarship program pays tuition and fees, and provides a living stipend to students enrolled in accredited medical (MD or DO), dental, nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife, and physician assistant training. Upon graduation, scholarship recipients serve as primary care providers between 2 and 4 years at an NHSC site of high need.
Relationship between NHSC and BCRS:
The NHSC is managed by the Bureau of Clinician Recruitment and Service (BCRS), part of the Health Resources and Services Administration within Health and Human Services. BCRS works with Federal Consulting Group to measure customer satisfaction using the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) methodology. BCRS takes a holistic approach to measuring satisfaction by listening to both the Participants (clinicians) in the scholarship or loan repayment program as well as those “Partners” (practicing health care professionals and faculty members) who help promote the program.
Good to Have Loyalty
The impact NHSC providers have on the communities they serve is lasting. More than 75 percent of NHSC members report they plan to stay at the site where they are currently working after their obligation is fulfilled. The Corps is dedicated to monitoring and improving satisfaction with the Corps to ensure members continue to practice in underserved areas.
Measuring Customer Satisfaction:
2010 marked the baseline measure where clinicians and partners were solicited via email to complete an online satisfaction survey. Using the respondent data, a customized satisfaction driver model was developed for each group that not only measured the level of performance but identified areas of high and low impact on satisfaction and, more importantly, desired outcomes relevant for each group. Armed with this information, BCRS is able to both quantify performance for Congress and reporting requirements for legislative mandates as well as develop specific action plans to improve satisfaction and, thereby, increase the effectiveness of the programs.