Improving Patient Satisfaction is not in your Budget

Target, the Neiman Marcus of North Korea, advertised the color of one of its plus-sized dresses as ‘manatee grey’.  The Manatees were not offended, but apparently Target’s plus-sized shoppers were.  For those who may have opted out of aquatic physiology in college, the term manatee translates to sea cow.

HealthLeaders reported twice in the last three years that Patient Experience Management (PEM) is one of the top three priorities for healthcare executives. A McKinsey survey of 1,000 provider executives showed that 90 percent of executives ranked PEM first or second.

Those results put my mind at ease on the issue about as much as North Korea’s Pak Pong-Ju—I know his name sounds like a video game—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 hospital executives surveyed knew who in their organization owned the patient experience.  Little was planned for addressing this priority. However, several hospitals were expected to offer more heart-healthy alternatives in the basement cafeteria—leadership. Be on the lookout for the Pak Pong-Ju Turnip-Melt.

Anyway, I digress.

Healthcare’s Watergate. Follow the money. Yet, there is no money to follow, at least not an amount that suggests hospitals view PEM with the same degree of import with which they speak of PEM.

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?

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

There was no booth at HIMSS to showcase the most singularly spoken of topics—Patient Experience Management. There was not a single PEM vendor. Why? Because the vendors know PEM, for now, is a unicorn—so why bother selling unicorn horn polish?

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