Saturday, October 13, 2012

What happens when the patient experience falls apart?

True story. "Well, you can always bring her back to the hospital if she still has trouble breathing", said the home health care nurse from the hospital less than 2 hours after a patient had been discharged from the hospital. Oh, and did I tell you that her eye was infected, almost fell going to the bathroom in the hospital and informed the nurse, had slurred speech and could barley ambulate? Yes, that patient had been cleared by all to be discharged from the hospital.

Guess it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that she was back in the hospital via the ER at 3:30 A.M

And then the family hears an ad about all the wonderful quality care awards from third parties that they receive, and how many lives would be saved if everyone was as good as them.

What do you think the family thought?

The really sad part is that this healthcare experience is not atypical.

Countless times every day, the patient experience goes south in healthcare. Big things and small things alike that take place in the healthcare encounter all add up to one patient experience, good or bad.

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.

Here's a clue.

Experience management is about changing the way you interact with the individual or family from start to finish. Not just managing the experience at isolated points along the care continuum. It's not about just focusing on service recovery like something was wrong with a hotel stay. 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. It's also about providing the right care too.

So when the patient experience goes south, your reputation, your brand and your future in a risk or value-based payment environment goes south. And then there are those readmissions penalties you face when a patient like this comes back in less than 30 days.

You should see what's being said on facebook and in social media circles from others that chime about how bad their experience was at that particular hospital.

What is really sad, is that there has been no effort at any type of service recovery effort. No acknowledgement or even awareness of anything having gone wrong in the experience or being wrong at all.

Yep, the chuckle factor is really high when those quality award ads are heard.

Pay attention to the patient experience, and pay attention to the marketing. They are not separated, but closely related.

The healthcare consumer is paying close attention; especially when it's your mother that is the patient.

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.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Thompson said...

Our company focuses on improving patient experience in fact, it's our tagline. We provide recovery tools, basic instructions, wound care supplies and basic toiletries so that the patient feels dignified, pampered, organized and can get some rest while in the hospital. The BFFLBag also provides a place where patients can keep their valuables. We encourage the hospital to send a "thinking of you" card to each patient at discharge, so the point is reinforced.