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Health system lauded for innovation now offering famous "warranty" based on patient expectations

DANVILLE, PA -- Geisinger President and CEO David T. Feinberg, M.D., MBA, has unveiled the health system's latest and perhaps most radical innovation, ProvenExperience, a program that now offers refunds to patients whose expectations weren't met based on kindness and compassion. He introduced the program during a speech at the 2015 Press Ganey Executive Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla. Tuesday.

"The way I see it, if you go into Starbucks and you're not happy with your order, they don't sip your latte and argue that they made it correctly. They just take care of you on the spot," Feinberg said. "What matters to me is that every patient is satisfied with their treatment and so I started thinking, 'What is our guarantee? What is our refund?' We need to be disruptive to move the practice of providing great patient experience forward and so the decision was made to give unsatisfied patients their money back."

A pilot of the program has been introduced at Geisinger Medical Center, the health system's main campus in Danville, Pa. A key component of the program is a patient app developed by Geisinger that allows certain surgery patients enrolled in the pilot to determine the amount of the refund they want based on their co-pay.

For example, if a spine surgery patient paid a $1,000 co-pay and they weren't pleased with how office staff treated them, they can log into the app and select from a sliding scale how much of their co-pay they want refunded. They can choose from $1 to $1,000 and the refund request is processed within 3 to 5 business days.

Feinberg doesn't anticipate the system will be abused and instead foresees patients sticking to the honor system.

"Ultimately, they just want to be acknowledged and to spare other families any pain they might have experienced," he said.

ProvenExperience is an evolution of Geisinger's renowned ProvenCare portfolio, which transformed the health care industry beginning in 2006 by proving that applying evidence-based protocols could reduce mortality rates, improve outcomes and reduce costly readmissions. It was deemed "surgery with a warranty" by The New York Times because if certain surgery patients are readmitted within 90 days with a preventable complication, they are taken care of at no extra charge.

"Historically, Geisinger's reputation has been based on transforming the way health care is delivered," Feinberg said. "We've been held up as a national model for providing both high-quality and cost-effective medical care and our ProvenCare program has garnered national - and international - praise for eliminating unwarranted variation and applying scientific best practices. Now is the time to focus on compassion."

ProvenExperience, he predicts, will transform the health care industry once again.

"In the beginning, I talked to other health system CEOs and industry leaders about ProvenExperience and they all said, 'Don't do it.' I really felt dejected," Feinberg explained. "Then I thought about Kodak executives discussing digital photography. And Blockbuster talking about online video options. Were they also told 'Don't do it?' That's when I said to myself, 'We're doing it.'"

Feinberg acknowledges that while some may see the money-back concept extreme, his focus is on "returning to the core of what we're supposed to do when given the privilege to take care of others."

"Really, what people want is care that's accessible, understandable, dignified and culturally sensitive," he said. "To me, patient experience is about providing the same quality of care I want for my family. And from a leadership standpoint, I consider every patient to be a member of my family and so we've got to provide every one of them the same high-quality, compassionate care.

About Geisinger
Geisinger is committed to making better health easier for the more than 1 million people it serves. Founded more than 100 years ago by Abigail Geisinger, the system now includes 10 hospital campuses, a health plan with more than half a million members, a research institute and the Geisinger College of Health Sciences, which includes schools of medicine, nursing and graduate education. With more than 25,000 employees and 1,700+ employed physicians, Geisinger boosts its hometown economies in Pennsylvania by billions of dollars annually. Learn more at or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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