Monday, September 3, 2012

Why can't you get the customer/ patient experience right?


Patients and healthcare consumers alike are seeking information on great outcomes and experience. That's right. Great outcomes and experiences. Not ordinary outcomes or experiences. Telling the healthcare consumer that you provide compassionate care and high-quality medical care, is falling on deaf ears. Especially, when the experience doesn't even come close to the claim.

And as we get deeper into the Affordable Care Act with risk and value -based payment models, experience will play a deciding role in success or failure. Healthcare consumers will bypass those hospitals and healthcare providers that have less than great outcomes or experiences. Same for insurance plans, doctors and others. When the individual has some skin in the game, i.e., high out-of pocket expenses and deductibles, their experience matters.

I am not saying that is fair, or right. It is a reality of a changing marketplace.

When healthcare executives are surveyed, the majority say that customer/patient experience management is a critical business success factor along with patient safety and cost reduction. But at the same time, the majority of healthcare CEOs, admit that they really don't know where to start on successfully managing the experience.

And it is just not hospitals. Insurance companies, specialty pharmacies, PBMs, home health and others, that are experiencing the same challenges in managing patient, consumer or member experience.

I know leadership is considering the ever increasing role of satisfaction scores in the CMS value purchasing programs and they effect of HCAHPS on revenue. It has a direct financial outcome. Do well and receive additional revenue, fail and it will cost you. Insurance companies will follow the government and move to more value purchasing arrangements as well.

A financial whammy approaches that requires new ways of doing business for the healthcare provider. News ways of marketing and communicating to patients and healthcare consumers. Change and you can prosper. Refuse and find financial difficulties caused by market share losses.

Experience management is about changing the way you interact with the individual or family from start to finish. Not just at isolated points along the care continuum, Managing the experience requires a complete understanding of what the patients expectations are, not yours. Experience Management is culturally and organizationally uncomfortable. And that is because it's not about you anymore.

If you are not in direct conversation with your patients or healthcare consumers you will never get it right.

The speed of change in healthcare has accelerated beyond the point of no return. Healthcare providers no longer have the time to engage in endless internal dialogue, and paralysis by analysis planning loops, before moving forward. Individuals expect you to care. Individuals expect you to have high-quality outcomes.

The only way you can differentiate is through creating and maintaining that exceptional experience. And that only comes through active management of the experience process.

If you want to succeed you have to learn to manage the whole experience process, not just one piece of it. Until you do that, you can't get it right.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.

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