Patient Relationship Management-Master of the Jedi Order

They don’t call me Yoda for nothing. This little rant is for those acolytes drinking the Kool Aid of disbelief, the recipe that says one day, if we stay the course, this will all get better.  These are those who believe the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a train.
For the next few minutes try and disassociate yourself from your responsibilities at work and become a patient.  Recall a time when you’ve been a dissatisfied patient and afterward felt the need to interact with your provider. If you’re totally honest, the forthcoming interaction should quicken your pulse. Cold beads of sweat appear on your forehead, your palms feel a little clammy, and you feel an unexplained need to microwave your neighbor’s cat.

The transition is faster than Clark Kent in a phone booth. A mild mannered and pedestrian acolyte transformed into a right-winged, Myers-Briggs INTJ A-Type with a passion for metaphorically devouring the unfortunate person awaiting your phone call.

As you think about managing the equity of your patients think about it from the perspective of the patient, goodness knows they do. That relationship is black and white—there are no shades of gray. It’s good versus evil, Yoda versus Darth Vader.

Patients Experience Management versus Patient Experience Management.  See that little ‘s’ tacked on to the word patient?  One letter makes a world of difference.  Patients do experience the decisions of your hospital’s management, and oftentimes that experience is unpleasant.  That experience can involve a broad range of issues–billing, insurance, dispute management, scheduling, prescriptions.

I think with most patient interactions the patients believe that the person on the other end of the line (think hospital customer service person) is incented to make them go away as quickly as possible and at the lowest possible expense to the provider.

For most patients, patient loyalty is a thing of the past.

With whom do you do business? Why? For any product that is even close to being a commodity, I deal with the firm who I find to be the least offensive, the one that will irritate me the least. That’s why I buy cars on eBay so I never again have to hear the phrase, “What’s it going to take to get you into that car?” If you find yourself doing that, why is it such a stretch to believe so many patients feel the same way? That said, could it be rather naïve to believe your hospital’s current approach to patient relationship management will make any difference?

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