Understanding Your Unique Needs and Limitations

Posted on Apr 30th 2015 by Megan Mauney

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Picture this: You get a call from your child’s school and the news is not good. Your youngest has the flu and needs to go to the doctor. You make arrangements with your boss to leave early and race out the door to pick up your kid and cross your fingers that the doctor’s office is able to squeeze in a last minute appointment. You arrive at the school to discover your child can barely stay awake, has a warm head and is vomiting. You quickly pick her up and carry her to the car to make the five-minute drive to the doctor’s office. You arrive and scan the room… there are sick kids everywhere and parents who look as worried and tired as you do. You sign in and begin the waiting process. Once it’s your turn the nurse takes you back and gives your kiddo the once over. Your kid is not interested in cooperating. She can only point at what hurts and pout her bottom lip. After a quick flu test you are sent out the door with prescription in hand. Oh, by the way, you are deaf. This frantic, and all too common, health scenario is one of those moments when your interaction with the health care system needs to work and work well. At Florida Blue, we study the customer experience in an effort to ensure that when customers interact with us it is simple, relevant and coordinated. In the past, due to the employer-sponsored insurance model, insurers focused on their relationships with employers. The HR administrator who made the decision on which insurance to buy was the person that we tried to understand. The last several years have brought a shift, due to the growth in the individual insurance market. We now are extremely interested in understanding all of our customers – each and every one of them. Part of that work includes understanding our customers with unique needs and limitations, such as a disability. Florida Blue wants to know more about the dad described in the scenario above and how we can make health solutions more accessible to him and his family. To do that, we first need to know who people with disabilities are. Late last year we began asking customers to voluntarily share this information with us. From that data, we are able to look at things like health disparities, interactions with customer service, the experiences these customers have with their doctors, and more. One example that resulted from this work is the addition of a Distinction Program for providers. We developed a curriculum for these health care professionals to improve their interactions with customers with disabilities. We covered the basics like “talk directly to the patient, not her sign language interpreter,” and explored tougher topics like health disparities for specific disabilities. One example, pulled from a national study on health disparities highlights the need for this type of work. They don't really know how to deal with a blind person. They don't know how to treat you. As opposed to coming up and saying, "I'm so-and-so. I'm going to take you in the room now," they grab you. They snatch you. They push you. They'll grab you around the shoulders and push you along. Throughout this training we offer strategies for being inclusive and accessible. From there, providers earn a special distinction on Florida Blue’s online provider director. Customers will be able to search for providers who have taken part in this extra training. Florida Blue knows that when you solve for some of the barriers that people with disabilities experience, you will almost always be improving the experience for everyone.

Filed under: Health Education  

Megan Mauney

Megan Mauney is the Accessibility Consultant for Florida Blue, focusing on the customer and employee experiences for people with disabilities, and the Chair of gen.y, Florida Blue’s employee resource group focused on young professionals. She is passionate about empowering people with disabilities and is very active with the Foundation Fighting Blindness.

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