Sunday, March 10, 2013

Is your patient experience matching the expectations of the healthcare consumer?

The evolving healthcare consumer is seeking information on great experiences and outcomes. That's right, great outcomes and experiences, not ordinary outcomes or experiences. You are expected to care. You are expected to provide high-quality care. 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. So when the healthcare consumer matches their expectations with your experience, chances are you are falling short somewhere.

And in the reality of a healthcare market place that is evolving to one driven by cost, outcome and choice, healthcare consumers will bypass those hospitals, healthcare providers and insurance plans that have less than great outcomes or experiences.

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 patient/customer experience improvement 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 improving the patient 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 and expectations.

But before you manage and improve the experience you have to understands the totality of the experience from the eyes of your consumer, as well as understand what their expectations are.

Experience Management is about changing the way you deliver care to the healthcare consumer by your employees, based on an understanding of what their expectations are, not yours. Experience Management is culturally and organizationally uncomfortable. And that is because it's not about you anymore. You have to have a formal definition of patient experience and that only comes from talking to patients, or consumers, or plan members.

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 patient experience and meeting their expectations. And that only comes through active management of the experience process.

In the end if you want your experience to meet the expectations of your healthcare consumer, do the market research. And get ready for some uncomfortable truths. But in the knowledge about the healthcare consumer gained, you will uncover truths that will set you free to change and change for the better is good.

This week is the American College of Healthcare Executives Congress on Leadership in Chicago. I will be there Wednesday, March 13 and Thursday, March 14. Let me know if you want to meet or just say hi.

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 Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like me on facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Pheed.

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