Media Release – Lessons from U.S. Veterans Affairs: How Manitoba can Improve Its Healthcare

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – Lee Becker, a former marine and chief of staff to the U.S. Veterans Affairs Experience Office will speak in Winnipeg on April 4, 2024 to share how a federal healthcare program went from garnering negative headlines to becoming one of the most trusted health brands in America.

Under Becker’s leadership, U.S. Veterans Affairs improved trust scores to an all-time high of 90%, demonstrated patient and employee experience scores are correlated and did this while employing fewer administrators to deliver healthcare than the private healthcare sector does.

This is a story about a turnaround in public healthcare. In 2014, federal bureaucrats pushed Veterans Affairs to manipulate their waIt-times data until whistleblowers came forward with allegations they had been directed to make wait times appear shorter. In what the reporting called ‘a culture of cover ups’, tens of thousands of veterans were waiting for care and an average of 16 service men and women died by suicide daily.

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was given an executive order by President Barack Obama to design a new and better veterans healthcare program. Becker became chief of staff to the newly established U.S. Veterans Affairs Experience Office.

To combat biases driven by bottom lines, the Experience Office was given special autonomy to drive cultural transformation. Using artificial intelligence, U.S. Veterans Affairs was able to take action with the insights it uncovered when patients and employees reported their experiences.

This Experience Management program was far more effective than a conventional public engagement effort, where surveys are the primary data-gathering tool.

Experience Management, also known as XM, focuses on listening to hundreds of thousands of citizens at the point of program and service delivery – and then analyzes their perspectives using AI and allows organizations to take action using real-time alerts and notifications.

This empowers employees to improve service and program delivery.

Becker will share his professional experiences at a time when healthcare delivery in Manitoba is under intense scrutiny by media, politicians and the public. Mary Agnes Welch of presenting sponsor Probe Research will facilitate a fireside chat alongside Lindsay MacKenzie, a CPRS board member and the author of Public Relations for the Experience Age, an essay on safeguarding brand reputations and building public trust.

CPRS Manitoba MCOY Awards Gala
On Thursday, April 4 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the Qualico Centre in Assiniboine Park, the Canadian Public Relations Society of Manitoba recognizes excellence in ethical communications, the practice of building organizations that listen to their customers and employees while serving the public interest. Six awards will be handed out to deserving participants. Nominations are open now, closing March 16 at 11:59 p.m. The public is welcome to this non-member only event. Tickets are $35 to $65 and are on sale now.

Lindsay Mackenzie
Publicist & Board Member

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