CMS has proposed that 30 percent of a healthcare providers quality incentive payment be based on patient experience. Using the HCAHPS patient satisfaction data as the experience measure, hospitals, associations, satisfaction vendors have generally come out opposed for a variety of reasons, some valid, some just nonsense.
This is where Customer Experience Management (CEM)applied to healthcare comes in. However, and let me be clear about this, CEM is more than just looking at your patient satisfaction scores. Satisfaction data can be important in pointing out areas of needed experience improvement, but it is just one data source.
What you really need to do is talk to your customers.
That's right, talk to your customers with one caveat.
Do not talk to your customers until you have analyzed your satisfaction data. If you haven't analyzed your satisfaction data please see my book How to Use Patient Satisfaction Data to Improve Healthcare Quality. Do not talk to your customers until you have started the experience map process tool that identifies all the touch-points along a continuum where consumers first begin to experience you, then as patients, then as consumers again. Below is an example of a total Patient Experience Map for a hospital.
Along the top of the map are chevrons from the initial touch-point of relationship initiation to ending at loyalty. There can be as many or as few as you want. I would recommend that you be all inclusive and see your customer relationship across the entire spectrum. That is how your customer forms an experience of you. Their encounter with you is not just as an isolated event. It is the sum of all that occurs in their experience process. You will be working on individual service aspects to improve the experience, but you must always remember that changes in one area impact another and vies versa. Nothing is isolated from the whole in CEM. This Experience Map should be adapted for individual product or service lines,
Gaining a detailed understanding of the drivers of your satisfaction experience and connecting them to the organizational touch-points, will yield some initial insights into your customers. Brainstorm organizationally what the data means based on the experience map. Brainstorm what you think about the experience. Develop a detailed list of quantitative information that you need from your customers so that you can begin the customer-centric dialogue to understand their view of the experience.
These insights then need to be validated by your customers.
Market research is required.
If you are not going to listen to your customers about their experiences first-hand, then you are not engaged in CEM. Customers include employees as well. Small focus groups, one-on-one research, web enabled survey, telephone and other methods of research are needed to validate your experience assumptions. Don't be afraid to ask former patients about your current process for whatever service experience you pick. What did they understand? What did they not understand? Where were they confused? What would make it better?
This type of process can yield volumes of results. You can expect to have some of your insights validated. You will also be surprised at insights that you will gain from a customer-centric dialogue, uncovering areas for experience improvement that you never would have thought of or considered. Validation and identification assist in prioritizing what changes you need to make for the "ideal experience". With this type of data, you now are able to prioritize those experience changes that are "nice to have", compared to those experience changes that will make the most impact in experience improvement for rational resource allocation. It takes the guess work out of the equation. Cost benefit analysis is required.
It will take 2-3 months at a cost estimate of $30,000 for the research part for each service.
Now it's about operations.
Data drives decisions and knowing what will improve your customer experience based on your dialogue and validation by your customers, you can now develop those operational service improvement plans to improve the customer experience across the totality of that experience. How you allocate resources and change operationally is left to you within whatever process and or quality improvement system you use.
These steps need to be repeated for each service experience or product-line that you choose to improve.
Customer Experience Management is a way of life, not a one-time organizational change.
If you are interested, I have a small 14 slide PowerPoint presentation overview that summarizes Customer Experience Management Applied to Healthcare in an Adobe file format that I can send to you for educating your organization. Just send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Michael Krivich is a senior healthcare marketing executive and internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger read daily in over 20 countries around the world. A Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives as well as a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association, he can be reached at email@example.com or 815-293-1471 for hiring as your senior marketing executive , for interim assignments in all aspects of healthcare marketing whether it be strategic or tactical market planning, customer experience management, rebuilding and revitalizing your existing marketing operation, integration of sales and marketing teams, media relations or service line revitalizations. Huthwaite SPIN selling trained and a Miller Heiman Strategic Selling alumni, both highly respected and successful international sales training organizations, I can lead your organization though the challenge of integrating sales and marketing.