Sunday, October 21, 2012

How come you don’t talk to your patients and map the experience?

As I have written many times over the past few years, to fix patient experience you have to look at the entire patient experience journey from the first touch point to the last. That can only come from talking directly to your patients and completing an experience map. That means you have to talk to your patients, not just your employees, senior leadership or physicians. Patient satisfaction scores are not a proxy for engaging directly with patients in an experience map exercise.

With so much riding on experience today, I am still amazed at the number of healthcare organizations that treat patient experience like it is some isolated event that only happens within the four walls of a healthcare organization. That is old school and is a really dangerous way to live if you’re serious about your healthcare organization surviving in the years to come.

Is it that terrifying for you to have an honest to goodness face-to-face conversation with your patients to really understand their experience? I mean really, stop talking about being a Kaiser, Mayo or MD Anderson “wannabe” in the area of emulating their patient experience. Because unless you are willing to map the patent experience based on those patient conversations and not the guesses of employees, managers, physicians and leadership, it’s not going to improve.

Patients know more about you than you can possibly imagine and they are looking for reason to deselect you from their choice of providers. They do look to the Mayo and Kaiser experience, their reputation and what they have heard from a variety of sources, using that as the gold standard for patient experience and you know what, you are just not measuring up.

That is not to say you have to be a Mayo, Kaiser or MD Anderson. What that does mean is the you have to talk directly to your patients, map the experiences from beginning to end and then make changes across all of the patient touch points to create that exceptional patent experience. Without that, your patient experience improvement process and attempts are just hollow shells.

Here is another little secret too about improving patient experience.

Involve you marketing departments in patient experience process. Not to make things look pretty or design a nice logo for the effort, but to help you talk to your patients. It's not about you it's about them. Isn't that part of the reason of why you have a marketing department, to understand the needs of your customers and how they make healthcare purchase and utilization decisions? So, if marketing is not talking to your patients about their experience, then what makes you think you can change it?

And here's another thought, marketing should be leading the effort instead of clinicians or department managers. The reason why many healthcare organizations are successful in patient experience is because, they talk to their patient directly, map the experience from beginning to end and their marketing departments take clear leading roles in the patient experience process.

It's not rocket science. But it demands organizational change and looking from the outside in from the patients perspective. And that only comes from marketing talking directly to them and mapping it out.

Really, even in Great Britain with a single payer system in the National Health Service, talks to their patients and maps the experience.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. 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. Like us on facebook at the michael J group.

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