PRC’s Anniversary: 40 Years of Excellence

Celebrating a 40-year anniversary

Innovation. Service. Quality. Collaboration. Growth. For the last 40 years, PRC has remained true to these values and the impact they make on excellent healthcare experiences. What started as four friends working out of their actual basement (because no one had a garage) has evolved into a nationally recognized industry leader supporting over 2,800 healthcare organizations across all 50 states. The people (clients, caregivers, community members, patients, PRC employees) are the purpose behind our evolution, and we are thankful for them, past and present. The short stories below are from our loyal associates who began when their hair was as big as their passion for excellence.

Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA)

I started working for PRC 30 years ago, and in 1994 I developed an approach to our Community Health Needs Assessment. I was fortunate to work with some very pioneering organizations who were decades ahead of what has now become a common (and required) way to define and amplify hospitals’ community benefit activities.

Over the years, while PRC’s focus and purpose have not wavered, certainly quite a lot has changed. We’ve kept pace–and many times, set the pace–in measuring emerging health needs and increasing focus on social determinants (adverse childhood experiences, housing, food security, etc.). Most recently, I’m proud of how we’ve been able to pivot to accommodate our socially distanced world, applying our innovative online approach to gathering stakeholder input and employing other virtual engagement tools. And as things continue to change, I’m confident that we will only get better!

-Bruce Lockwood, Senior Vice President of Community Health

Physician Engagement

I have been in the physician interviewing department for 32 years. Back in 1988, which was pre-managed care, it would be very easy to get interviews with 10 physicians a day. Fast forward 32 years and it is hard to get half of that in one day. In June of 2009, we went from a call tracking system on paper to an electronic one, and this has to be the most efficient process improvement for our department; from both a management and an interviewer perspective. Also in 2009, Dr. Joe Inguanzo, President and CEO of PRC, informed me that PRC signed a contract to interview the medical staff of a large national system with approximately 20,000 physicians to be interviewed BY PHONE. That was by far the largest number of physicians we were going to contact for one client. Dr. Inguanzo informed me that we needed to achieve a response rate of 80% for each hospital, and we did! Over the years, our staff of executive interviewers has assisted with data collection in all of PRC’s research divisions, including PRC’s current work with contact tracing. I am very thankful for the many opportunities I have had over the years to talk to so many different types of people involved in healthcare, and I look forward to talking to many more about new and interesting topics!

-Ann Brady, Physician Executive Interviewing Manager

Quality Assurance

PRC Quality Assurance = Loyalty and Positive Energy. The average length of employment for associates in our Quality Assurance department is 11 years. Ruby Smith, one of our current QA associates, started here 35 years ago, when she and the company were both very young! When I moved to QA in 2001, our two-person department used desk telephones and tape recorders to monitor interviewers, and we used a lot of legwork to deliver the handwritten evaluations. Just a few months later, PRC’s talented software development team gave us the first version of our custom-built Quality Assurance management software – we were so spoiled! The program was able to sync the audio and video of the interviewing screens, it gave us scheduled monitoring and evaluating, and best of all, we were now able to provide immediate feedback via email directly to the supervisors to share with our interviewers. The technology and monitoring features from 2001 until now have greatly expanded, as we’ve blended QA processes to complement PRC values. And the best part is, now everything can be done remotely, to keep all of our associates safe and healthy. This has been quite an amazing and rewarding journey–onward to the next chapter!

-Mary Kovar, Quality Assurance Coordinator

Interviewing

If you asked me in 2019 what was the biggest change I’ve seen during my 34 years at PRC, I would have said switching from paper surveys to online surveys in 1997-1998. It increased our efficiency and productivity so much more than expected! But 2020 has been a remarkable year of evolution for our team, and they never cease to amaze me with what they can do when we pull together to accomplish our goals. It was incredible to see the expedient way they implemented teleworking for our interviewers. The teams focused on hiring, training, support, and IT spent very long weekend hours in mid-March to provide our interviewers a safe, work-from-home opportunity during this pandemic.

Another huge achievement was taking on COVID-19 contact tracing for the State of Nebraska. With dedication to healthcare differently, we saw an opportunity for growth and innovation within our interviewing teams. After only a couple of months, we have a contact tracing staff of over 250 people and a first-class contact tracing training program. We are extremely proud of our contributions to our state during this pandemic: we are contributing to the important public health work needed to “crush the curve,” and we are creating jobs in a very challenging economic time.

Whoever coined the phrase “teamwork makes the dream work” must have worked at PRC, because we live by this credo every day.

-Kristy Smith, Director of Interviewing and Survey Completion

Qualitative Analysis

I started working for PRC 30 years ago this August. I began as a stay-at-home mom, then changed to working part-time for two years before being promoted to a full-time Qualitative Analyst. Qualitative analysis, or coding, is the process of categorizing open-ended responses, which was initially all done by hand from paper surveys. The words that make up comments contain meaning; the art of coding is holding onto not only its connotation, the tone, and feeling, but also the perception around the topic.

As interviewing moved from paper to online, we needed an entirely new way to do our work. PRC’s amazing software development team created a customized program, Quikode, that did everything we asked for! This program is still ahead of the game compared to other products we’ve tested, and its latest evolution allows us to work with training data that is being used for PRC’s new AI-driven Advanced Comment Analytics product. I am proud to say that I work for a company that continues to stay innovative in their approaches to doing surveys and helping make a difference in physicians’, employees’, and patients’ lives.

-Jody Castillo, Director of Quality Data and Coding

Training

Since 1996, I’ve been working with this excellent organization. Over the last 24 years, the upgrade from paper-and-pencil surveys to online has been the most efficient method change. I remember the side-by-side tests we did during the upgrade process. An interviewer using the online system would have a survey completed before the interviewer using paper and pencil would even get someone on the phone! Our interviewers are always thinking of tools that could make their work more efficient, and our software development team continues to bring their great ideas to life.

I am so very proud of the Hiring and Training Team. I could go on and on about the success they have achieved over the years. I think right now, they have encountered the biggest challenge they have ever faced. In a matter of days, due to our social distancing strategies, this team figured out how to hire and train remotely. Now, if that was not hard enough, they did all of this while still maintaining the standards and expectations we have set as a company. The pandemic has created many challenges for us, but our entire interviewing team works hard every day to overcome obstacles and deliver excellence. I am proud to be a part of such a great team and to work for an organization that truly makes a difference.

-Paul Harlow, Director, Interviewing Training & Development

Healthcare Market Research

When I started working for PRC in 1994, we worked with a dozen or so hospitals who were doing patient surveys so they could put some satisfaction numbers on a billboard or a newspaper ad. We printed pages and pages of frequency distributions and shipped boxes of binders to marketing directors who found the three or four numbers they wanted and then put the binders on a shelf to collect dust. No one looked at benchmarks for context, and NO ONE ever asked what they should do to try to improve their scores. The most common question we got from clients was, when will we receive our reports?

In 2020, our client partners remind us EVERY DAY that the work we do is making a difference in healthcare. They need the data we are collecting in order to understand how to create better experiences for their patients, their employees, their physicians, how to create healthier communities, and how to strengthen their brands. It has been so gratifying to watch the evolution of how hospitals and health systems use our data and to see the significantly broader audience it now reaches. Thousands of caregivers and managers and executives look at the data and the guidance we provide and use it to make decisions, big and small, about how they will fulfill their own missions of providing care in the communities they serve. I am honored to play a small part in making healthcare better for everyone.

-Jan Gnida, Senior Vice President, Research Operations

Research & Development

My first months at PRC as a fresh college graduate were spent with our report writers building macros in MS Word (this DOS version). Certainly not the computer games I had hoped to build but I quickly found exciting opportunities within a growing PRC. Back in those pencil and paper days, it was a challenge to track our progress relative to our interviewing targets for the quarter. In early 1997, Ken Livingston and I showed Dr. Inguanzo a method showcasing our data entry files on the website and was practically blinded by the lightbulb shining over his head. He suggested sharing this method of productivity with our clients to retrieve survey results in real-time. As the first healthcare market research vendor to offer this game-changing reporting, we had our first client in April 1998 log into www.PRCEasyView.com.

When I think about the growth and evolution of the reporting options over the last 22 years, I am reminded of our amazing, collaborative partners who have given us many ideas for enhancing new data displays for new audiences. We were very proud to offer push reporting through EasyView to You in 2006 which transformed into client’s ability to listen to patient comments through the Voices application in 2008.

It’s also been exciting to watch software technology catch up to some of our ideas sitting on a shelf. One of my favorites that we pulled down from the shelf in 2019 was the idea of a mobile app, and it was a very cool experience to see PRCEasyView listed in the App Store. In 2020, our team of developers added natural language processing and machine-learning AI to our toolkit, and we look forward to discovering more uses for these 21st century tools. I never imagined that, as a computer nerd, I could make a difference in healthcare!

-Butch Rosecrans, Vice President, Research & Development


Learn more about PRC by visiting our team page, checking out our history, and discovering our wide array of solutions to cultivate healthcare excellence.