Patient Experience Management as healthcare’s Watergate

Below is the text of my article in Hospital Impact.

Patient Experience Management as healthcare’s Watergate

March 9th, 2011

by Paul Roemer

For the second straight year, HealthLeadersreports that Patient Experience Management (PEM) is one of the top three priorities for healthcare executives. A McKinsey study of 1,000 executives showed that for 90 percent of executives it ranked first or second.

Those results put my mind at ease on the issue about as much as Iran’s Amadinejad claiming its nuclear efforts are only targeted at improving the yield of their turnip harvest.

Recall the tagline of the McKinsey study–none of the executives knew who actually owned the patient experience, so little was planned for addressing this priority. However, several hospitals were expected to offer more heart-healthy alternatives in the basement cafeteria–I love strong leaders. Be on the lookout for the Amadinejad Turnip-Melt.


Anyway, I digress.

Healthcare’s Watergate. Follow the money. Yet, there is no money to follow in two key areas, at least not an amount that suggests hospitals view either area with the same degree of import with which they speak to them. What are they?

  • Patient Experience Management (outflow)
  • Our old friend, Meaningful Use (inflow)

Missing is the planned expenditure that would come even close to making Patient Experience Management a priority. Don’t believe me? Print out a copy of your organization’s strategy, its budget, or its general ledger, and sort all of the planned expenditures from greatest to least. Stop reading when you reach the line item for Patient Experience Management.

Meanwhile, I am going for a run. If you find it before I return, wait for me, but you will not have found it by then.

You did not find the dollar amount budgeted for PEM did you?

Just to stay consistent, there is not much of a Meaningful Use windfall flowing out of CMS and into your neighborhood healthcare services provider either.

In general, money for what seem to be very high operational priorities is dribbling along so slowly so as to suggest these initiatives had prostate problems in the offing.

In addition to the fact there was no booth at HIMSS to showcase the most singularly spoken of topic, Meaningful Use, there was also no booth on Patient Experience Management. There was not a single PEM vendor. Why? Because the vendors know PEM, for now, is a unicorn-like ACOs–and nobody has ever seen a unicorn, so why bother trying to sell unicorn horn polish?

By the way, I need to borrow five chairs for a group photo I am taking of everyone eligible to receive Meaningful Use rebates.

Paul Roemer, MBA, is a healthcare strategist and Managing Partner of Paul has more than thirty years of management consulting experience, starting with the Big 4 where he held national leadership positions, and the last fourteen years with his own international consulting firm. He has a passion for how we will live and function in the rapidly changing world of healthcare, and how information technology must provide for and help manage the change. He wrestles with how to turn the lack of information of what the business of healthcare will become, the lack of understanding of the issues, and the general lack of knowledge of the future into decisions we can make today to shape tomorrow. Paul has earned a presence on the national healthcare stage through his futuristic thought leadership, and is a recognized speaker and writer on a number of strategic healthcare issues.

One thought on “Patient Experience Management as healthcare’s Watergate

  1. Paul, I love it. One of the issues that I see is that healthcare refuses to view patients as customers. But they are consumers and there is a lot of effort to get these consumers into practices. There is a lot off dollar spent on patient acquisition. Acquisition is only the start then you have to retain the patient, one of the best ways to do this is to manage their experience. A doctor friend of mine told me that he had a new patient that on his first visit the doctor asked the patient why he changed doctors, the patient said, “his previous doctor keep telling him that he was fat and had to lose weight so he changed doctors”. My friend told me that he will not be telling this patient that he need to lose weight, he already knew this. Patient are becoming more educated and involved in their care, more like customers of health care. Maybe we should rename it to Customer Retention Management or Patient Personalized Management.

    Patients are the customer unicorn in the room.

    Jeff Brandt


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