Sunday, February 26, 2012

Can you have patient/customer evangelists in healthcare?

With the dynamic and changing healthcare environment, satisfaction with services is but one indicator, abet an important one, in qualifying for additional incentive payments in a value-based payment model. But satisfaction is really only a measure of future potential purchase or repurchase. It is not as commonly assumed, to be a predictor of loyalty. Just because someone says they are likely to return or recommend you to another, is only an indicator of potential purchase not loyalty.

The hospital CEO, medical business leader, managing partner, vice president, director, manger and employees need to be focusing on creating customer evangelists to not just survive, but grow and thrive in a value-based healthcare payment system.

A customer evangelist is an individual, who has such an outstanding experience that they freely become your brand spokesperson in the community. They are not paid. They have no financial sake in your survival, but have come to believe so completely in what you do, they drive business to you.

Notice I did not say patient or customer satisfaction. Anyone can have good and even high patient satisfaction scores. But, that my friend is the fix you are in. High satisfaction scores do not for one minute translate into customer evangelists. Don’t stop measuring satisfaction; you have to for a variety of reasons. I say focus on creating customer evangelists through outstanding patient-centered, or customer-centered experiences and the scores will be fine.

Ask yourself these questions.

Do you want an unassailable position in the market?

Do you want to be the market leader in healthcare?

Do you want to grow and not merely survive?

Do you want the area's best doctors on your medical staff?

If you answered yes to all the above, then you need to focus on creating patient/customer evangelists.

No better time then like the present to start.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Do you put context and content around your healthcare awards for consumers?

It sure seems like it's the season to display all those healthcare award logos in advertisements, direct mail pieces, billboards, lobby displays and a myriad of other places. This becomes even more entertaining when two or more hospitals in the same market display the same award. Don't take me wrong. Tremendous organizational effort has taken place to achieve a quality ranking by an third party.

Is just putting the award logo out there without the contextual content about what it means, serving the healthcare consumer in a meaningful way?

This is an important question for you to consider. It's not easy putting context and meaningful content together for consumers around a quality or certification award. But just putting the logo out there as some "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" isn't working either.

And the evidence starting to appear anecdotally, that healthcare consumers aren't buying what you are selling. An award logo means nothing to them and has no influence on their decisions.

They don't believe you.

In an industry where meaningful differentiation is hard to come by, one would think that healthcare organizations would make an attempt to educate, explain and place context around the award. With healthcare changing so rapidly on a what seems to be a daily basis, how is a healthcare consumer to make any kind of informed utilization decision based on an award logo?

What does it mean to a consumer to be named best-in-class?

You have a responsibility to place contextual content around what that award means, so that in the minds and eyes of the healthcare consumer, they gain understanding what that award means and what it means for them.

Consumers are expecting you to put contextual content around the quality award.

This is your chance in a meaningful way, to differentiate you from your competition in the marketplace. You can achieve that differentiation with those quality and operational awards from third parties, provided that you wrap them in context and content.

It will enhance your brand.

It will enhance your reputation.

It will enhance your value proposition.

It can drive revenue.

The healthcare award will not make a difference, untless you stop displayong the award logo out there, without meaningful context and content that resonates with the healthcare consumer.

Educate. Explain. Inform. Differentiate.

You may have noticed that I haven't posted much in the last couple of weeks. I have accepted a full-time position in healthcare information technology marketing. Now that things have settled down somewhat, I am back to writing about my love and passion, strategic healthcare marketing. The schedule of postings will be different, but weekly they shall remain.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Where is your market research in patient/customer experience management?

Or, the dangers of viewing the customer-patient experience management process, thinking you know it all, it's easy to do, or only use patient satisfaction survey results.

And from the questions I get from healthcare professionals around the country, it became very clear that a key element is missing from most efforts at improving the patient experience.

Healthcare providers, aka hospitals for the most part, are not doing the required quantitative and qualitative market research on patient experience, attitudes, behaviors and expectations in their market place. They are assuming that because they read an article, go to a seminar that they know it all. They are only using patient satisfaction survey data, lean six sigma results and their previous quality improvement efforts. Few are actually talking to patients.

Had you been conducting market research on your customers-patients in the experience management process outside of  internal patient interactions, you would  be much better off. But unfortunately, most customer-patient experience management programs are focused on the 1/3rd of the encounter as a patient.

Where do you go from here?

It's important to view Customer-Patient Experience Management(CEM or PEM) in its totality, not as one service or clinical line experience. It may be for you, but to the healthcare customer-patient who experiences your organization across numerous touch-points, it's not. They aggregate all of it into one overall experience. You, as a healthcare provider, need to understand the expectations and experiences through quantitative and qualitative analysis. Then integrate that information and learning's into your efforts.

Part of the process of experience management, is actively managing customers-patients experiences to meet expectations and change their experiences, to drive revenue and market share. It's not all about the patient satisfaction numbers. CEM or PEM have definable and measurable financial outcomes. But you cannot achieve those revenue outcomes if you are not looking at experience management in its totality. And that means doing the necessary market research.

By not fully understanding your customer-patient in their totality, you are not successfully managing their experience or expectations.

The wave is here to use an oft quoted metaphor. Its consumer-directed not provider-directed healthcare. And the sooner you get it, that its not about you, but about the patient, and start looking at the customer experience in its totality, the better the chances of your survival in the coming years.

You don't have all the answers.