Sunday, November 11, 2018

Patient & Customer Centricity is Culture Driven, Not Program Driven

I have worked for enough hospitals, health systems, and vendors in leadership positions to live through the declarations of the customer and patient centricity. It’s more than hiring new talent. It’s more than just catching up and using technology more efficiently.  It is a whole lot more than declaring it’s all about the customer.

Customer centricity doesn’t happen overnight, especially in healthcare enterprises that have had an internal instead of external focus. It isn’t driven by technology, though that is a tactic and solution. It’s not just a one and done training program. It’s not a line in the business or strategic plan.

It starts and ends with the culture and focus of the organization.

An organization can not treat patients or healthcare consumer as a customer, nor be successful in the endeavor if the very soul of the healthcare enterprise leadership, focus, and culture are not devoted to the customer.

It’s all about the healthcare consumer or patient. The only thing that matters is meeting the needs of the patient or the healthcare consumer.  It’s not about the hospital or health system in many ways.  Focusing on and meeting the needs of the customer is the single most important trait and a hallmark of successful companies. One patient to the hospital. One hospital to the patient. You’re all smart and can go figure out what I mean.

The singular focus on meeting the health care needs of the healthcare consumer or patient, or shopper for that matter, brings growth and revenue. Period.

Are you ready to make that transformation? And I ask that question because in health care nothing is ever new. I can remember from the 1990s when hospitals and health systems were throwing the words “patient as customers” around like they were M&Ms. So here we are, and it's 2018, still talking about customer-centricity around the healthcare consumer or patient. These times the words are engagement and experience. Hospital marketing neither reflects the experience nor engages in any meaningful way.

The healthcare enterprise can talk all it wants about treating patients as consumers. But unless it starts with the cultural transformation and a singular focus on meeting the needs of the healthcare consumer or patient, otherwise all the technology, new hires, new clinical programs and delivery of care is just another expensive undertaking that is nothing more than me too compared to the other healthcare providers in the market.

The more things change, the more they stay the same I guess.

A note to my readers. You may have noticed that haven’t been posting as frequently as before. After 11 years of writing Healthcare Marketing Matters, the weekly research and topic selection becomes a bit of a chore. While there has been much progress in hospitals and marketing, it remains mired in a features approach looking at us and little content that fosters true engagement with the patient and healthcare consumer. I guess I am just tired of beating a dead horse. The other reason is semi-retirement. Having a deep background in healthcare, I will be the hospital's worst nightmare patient.  Not from unreasonable demands, but from understanding healthcare delivery and my expectations of experience and engagement for an informed healthcare consumer standpoint. Get ready folks because I hate using a hospital for things that be done in a higher quality, more cost-effective, and convenient setting than the hospital or hospital-based outpatient services. I only need the hospital for three things, emergency care, care for acute complex medical conditions, and intensive care.


Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist, and thought-leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters is read in  52 countries and listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs, and Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing & social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, call Michael at 815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.