Episode 202 – Unlocking Patient-Centric Care: The Transformative Power of Conversational AI in Healthcare

Leslie Pagel is the Chief Evangelist of Authenticx – a conversation analytics company dedicated to improving the way healthcare companies engage with patients. In this role, she creates awareness across the healthcare industry of more efficient and effective ways for healthcare organizations to deliver on their customer objectives.

With over two decades of working with customer experience teams, Leslie helps clients actualize the voice of the patient to show how these voices prompt meaningful action.  


•  We always like to start off by asking our guests to share a little bit about their journey. Could you share with our audience a little bit about how you got to where you are today?

•  What has your experience been I would say, let’s use maybe the last 12 to 24 months, as it relates to what customers are expecting. You mentioned conversational AI as a way to do the data collection and less reliance on surveys. But what have the customers been saying? What are some of the trends that you’ve been seeing emerging? What are customers really looking for?

•  So, in terms of using conversational AI to be a better listening tool with customers, right? Could you share maybe an example, a real-life example for our listeners, that you’ve seen the conversational AI work in such an impactful way that it transformed somebody’s life or group of people’s lives?

•  What’s the one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely can’t live without in your business?

•  Could you also share with us one or two books that have had a great impact on you? It could be a book that you read a very long time ago, or even one that you’ve read recently.

•  Can you also share with our listeners, what’s the one thing that’s going on in your life right now that you are really excited about? Either something you’re working on to develop yourself or your people.

•  Where can listeners find you online?

•  Before we wrap our interviews up, we always like to ask our guests, do you have a quote or a saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you will tend to revert to this quote if for any reason you get derailed or you get off track, it kind of helps to get you back on track. Do you have one of those?


Leslie’s Journey

Leslie shared that her journey in customer experience started over 25 years ago before CX in customer experience was even a thing. She spent 20 years working with large global, primarily business to business organizations on a new strategy for creating competitive differentiation. And that strategy was the customer experience. And over the past several decades companies have grown to create a boardroom conversation around customer experience, because it is a very productive and effective differentiation strategy. 

What we see over the over the decades is the pace of innovation has continued to accelerate, which makes it really hard for companies to compete on product alone or services alone and no one wants to compete on price, so companies were looking for new ways of differentiating in the market and they turn to customer experience. And so, she spent 20 years, the first 20 years of her career working with companies on their customer experience strategy, which largely was informed from traditional or historical methods of customer listening through large survey programmes, Net Promoter Score programmes, customer satisfaction programmes. 

And as technology has evolved and artificial intelligence has become more mainstream, we’re seeing a new method that companies are leveraging for listening to their customers, which then informs their customer experience strategy and that’s conversational AI. So, when you take a historical look at customer experience listening or measurement, you see that the way that we capture customer input has changed, but what we capture and listen to hasn’t, we’re still very survey dependent. 

And in the last two years, she’s been really focusing on helping business leaders realize a different source of customer insight and that source is not survey data, that source are the conversations that customers are having every day with businesses when they’ve reached out to ask questions, when they reach out to make purchases, when they reach out to use the website, customers are interacting in moments. And companies have an opportunity to listen into those moments and the technology exists. 

So, spent her entire career in customer experience is evolved more into a role today of helping leaders really listen to the moments of customer interactions instead of relying on survey data to keep their finger on the pulse of their customers.

Using Conversational AI for Data Collection – What Are Customers Really Looking For?

Me: So, you have quite a wealth of experience in that area. Now you’re primarily in the healthcare space, right? 

Leslie stated that she is now, prior to working with Authenticx, she worked across industries, primarily focused on B2B. But then have over the past 5 years been really focused within the healthcare industry, working with payers, providers, being doctors, and pharmaceutical, manufacturers, pharmacies, and in that realm of healthcare.

Me: What has your experience been I would say, let’s use maybe the last 12 to 24 months, as it relates to what customers are expecting. You mentioned conversational AI as a way to do the data collection and less reliance on surveys. But what have the customers been saying? What are some of the trends that you’ve been seeing emerging? What are customers really looking for?

Leslie shared that she would say, and this hasn’t changed over the past 12 to 15 months, they’ve been saying this for decades. But customers, they are saying to the organizations that they do business with that one of the best ways of demonstrating care and concern for the customer. And by the way, in healthcare, caring and concern is essential in that customer experience. But customers have been saying that the best way to show me that you care about me is to listen to me, and to show me that you’re listening to me by hearing what I’m saying and taking ownership of it and driving action in the business

So that’s nothing new, that’s been there for decades. The other thing that’s not unique to healthcare, you can see it in any business is eliminating friction from the journey. But in healthcare, friction in the journey means a lot more, it means delayed care, it means not getting access to the care that you need. So, really looking at pockets where there is friction, and that friction is impacting the patient in their ability to get the care that we need. And that also impacts business and business outcomes as well. 

Me: Indeed, because at the end of the day, you’re trying to build trust and loyalty and a higher level of retention. And if you’re not getting what you’re looking for, then they’re probably not going to come back, especially if they have options. 

Leslie agreed exactly. And there are a lot of options out there, that’s kind of why leaders turn to the customer experience to differentiate as companies are innovating fast, your product doesn’t stand alone anymore. And so, they are looking towards other ways of building loyalty and the experiences is the way that is where they’re turning.

The Impact of Using Conversational IA

Me: So, in terms of using conversational AI to be a better listening tool with customers, right? Could you share maybe an example, a real-life example for our listeners, that you’ve seen the conversational AI work in such an impactful way that it transformed somebody’s life or group of people’s lives?

Leslie stated that the example that comes to mind immediately is they are working with a hospital system, and this isn’t unique to hospitals across healthcare, there’s a lot of focus on social determinants of health because social determinants research has found that social determinants have more of an impact on our health and wellness than healthcare itself. And so, there’s a lot of focus across healthcare organizations on understanding social determinants of health and helping patients overcome those. 

And so, they do work with a hospital system and one of the questions that they asked them to explore in their conversational data was related to scheduling and why are there no shows? Or why are there reschedules? And one of the things that they found in studying just a single topic of scheduling appointments was that social determinants of health in 14% of those interactions were having an impact on getting to care, getting to the care that they need, they were impacting, rescheduling or missed appointments, as well. 

So, this hospital system through that learning, one, has a different appreciation and understanding when someone is calling in to reschedule, that it might not necessarily be because they’re not feeling good, it could be because their caregiver didn’t show up and they can’t get to the appointment, or they’re working three jobs and they’re not able to get time off. 

So, through that insight, they have been working with their frontline staff to one, help in those interactions when someone is calling around a scheduling appointment or rescheduling to offer services that might help that patient in need. But they’re also taking their insights that they’ve learned to the broader community perspective as well. 

Me: All right, so that’s data driven decisions there for sure that would help them to enhance the journey of the customer.

Leslie agreed, absolutely.

App, Website or Tool that Leslie Absolutely Can’t Live Without in Her Business

When asked about an online resource that she cannot live without in her business, Leslie stated that there’s so many tools and resources that she uses every day. She would say for the work that she does at Authenticx, which one of the things that she does is to take the bird’s eye view of all of the healthcare landscape and all of the conversations that are coming through their platform and listen more at an industry level and macro level. 

And she relies on their own software to enable that perspective. So, that’s one of the things that she wouldn’t be able to do her job if she didn’t have Authenticx because it’s allowing her to listen at scale. This year, they’ll have over 200 million healthcare conversations coming in through their platform, yes, 200 million. 

And there’s no way they would be able to understand that data at scale, a human can’t do that at scale. And so, she relies personally on their platform to allow herself and their team to do the research that they do to help the healthcare industry at a macro level. So, that’s one she would say.  

More on like a personal professional side of it, LinkedIn comes to mind. She relies on LinkedIn to help spread the word to help open the eyes of what they’re doing and how conversational AI is being leveraged in healthcare to drive outcomes, to drive business outcomes. So, that’s another one that’s more kind of on a personal professional side that comes to mind as well.

Books that Have Had the Biggest Impact on Leslie

When asked about books that have had a great impact, Leslie stated that she doesn’t have the tattoo but if she were going to get a tattoo of a book, it would be this one it’s called Conscious Capitalism, With a New Preface by the Authors: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business. Leslie stated that if she was at a networking event, chances are before they were done talking, she would talk about Conscious Capitalism. Conscious Capitalism is a book, but it is a book that articulates a business strategy, that is a proven business strategy with outcomes that benefit, not just the company in terms of profits, but also benefit humanity and help elevate humanity. And there’s some principles in Conscious Capitalism as a business strategy that really resonates with her and that drive how she shows up in the world, both professionally and personally. 

And some of those are really that for business, purpose, and profit must co-exist. We can’t just focus on driving profit without purpose, and we won’t have a company if we don’t have profit. But the two of those must coexist, it really is the essence of the responsibility of business is to have a higher purpose, and to generate profit for the company, for the employees, and to be able to invest back in the organization for growth, for customers. 

The other thing that really resonates with Conscious Capitalism is more of a shift in mindset from short term gains to long term gains, particularly publicly held companies are very focused on the here and the now and they think of the longer term opportunities and Conscious Capitalism is really more about focusing on the long term vision and outcomes and driving decisions in the here and now based on the vision and where the organization is going in the future. So, that would be her one book, Conscious Capitalism.

What Leslie is Really Excited About Now!

When asked about something she is really excited about, Leslie stated that she would say the thing that she’s really excited about is, she feels like where conversational AI today is it’s not known or understood. And so, the thing that she’s really excited about is helping organizations and particularly healthcare organizations understand what conversational AI is, and understand how they can leverage it to drive business outcomes and patient outcomes. 

And so, they’ve got several things coming up that they’re working on to help kind of spread the word. One is next, next month, they’re going to bring together healthcare leaders from across all verticals, to their headquarters city in Indianapolis, Indiana, and have conversation around best practices for leveraging and listening to the voice of the customer. They’re going to have conversation around the challenges that are present within the healthcare industry.  

So, she’s really excited about that. One of the things that they know, in their work is that when they really listen to customers, they’ll guide the way and they’re bringing their clients and other healthcare leaders together for purposes of listening, so they can help them guide the way and they can help them achieve the outcomes that they’re looking for their business and for their customers.

Where Can We Find Leslie Online

LinkedIn – Leslie Pagel

Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Leslie Uses

When asked about a quote or saying to she tends to revert to, Leslie stated that she doesn’t know who to credit for this quote, but she guesses it’s more of a mindset and that mindset is to, “Focus more on others than to focus on yourself.” And it’s not to say that focusing on herself isn’t important, because it is and that’s very intentional in her life. But when she’s in a place of struggle, or kind of not feeling it, just reminding herself of focusing on others more than she focus on yourself is something that really helps her redirect her attention and re-engage in the work that she’s here to do. 

Me: All right, perfect. And I think that’s even more relevant, that quote that you just shared, especially for the industry that you are in, because when it comes to healthcare, people usually are reaching out to organizations, or hospitals or clinics or doctor’s offices because they need help, they’re in pain, they’re experiencing something that they’re uncomfortable with and they need help. So, at that point, it’s not about you, it’s about them. So, that’s a really good quote I think to have and to kind of remind yourself about, especially in the space that you’re operating in. 

Leslie agreed, exactly. 

Me: Well, thank you so much, Leslie, for coming on to our podcast and sharing all of these great insights about the voice of the customer and the importance of listening. I think even as simple as it sounds, and as you mentioned, it’s something that customers have want for decades, not just in the last 12 to 24 months, that we really should pay attention to the opportunities that we have, and that the greater tool that exists is conversational AI, and there are ways that we can integrate it into our everyday activities so that we can get a better understanding of what our customers are looking for. And that way we can really deliver that amazing experience that can hopefully help them to return again and again, and bring their friends and family, although we want them all to be healthy and be good and well.

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•     Conscious Capitalism, With a New Preface by the Authors: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business by John Mackey 

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