Patient Experience: Your Lobby is Better than your Internet Presence; Why?

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Yesterday began with the quest for a bunny my dog hid somewhere in the house, and no, we have not yet found it.

Today started with two gerbils having escaped from the cage in my son’s room.  One of the gerbils, the one I know to be the ringleader, actually has noticeable biceps.  Like in a movie of a prison escape, I halfway expected to see a chain of small tissues tied end-to-end, secured off at one end to the running wheel, and the rest of the makeshift rope dangling over the side of the cage—I decided to stop the sentence after having already used four commas.  I have trapped the gerbils in his room and will sort out that problem later.

My more immediate need is figuring out how to remove a bit of malware from my PC.  Google suggested the name of a firm and the software to use.  The link took me to a page with screenshots, sort of a Malware Removal for Dummies approach.  That approach worked only long enough when step one, start the system in safe mode, failed to work.  Fortunately, the site provided a number for me to call, and call I did.

“Oh that is not good,” replied the lad from India.  “If it will not start in Safe Mode, you need a Microsoft Certified technician for which Best Buy will charge you $350.  However…today only…we will provide you with this service for only $250.”

“No, you will not,” I said as I hung up.  I then did what any Neanderthal would do in this situation; I banged on the PC really hard and began hitting a number of keys all at once.  At the moment I am downloading the malware fix for $220 less than my buddy’s suggested approach.

Customer experience.  I had one.  Every customer does.  The rub is being able to know whether the experience was good or bad, and if it was bad what you can do about it.

May I make a suggestion?  Pick you battles and your platforms; have a targeted plan.  Facebook does not constitute a targeted plan.  Some social media experts would argue that having a Facebook account is a necessity.  It may be necessary, but it is far from meeting the criteria of being both necessary and sufficient.

Last week I read that a certain children’s hospital has more than 700,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook.  Good for them, or not.  To me that is a little like seeing how many Twitter followers you can collect, or how many friends you have on Facebook.  It is about as relevant as you ‘liking’ Justin Bieber or Justin Timberlake—maybe there is something to the name Justin.

That hospital has not had 700,000 patients in its combined history, so having 700,000 is almost irrelevant.  Hospitals in its area also have hundreds of thousands of ‘likes’ and still acquire patients.  It may not have gained them a single extra dollar of revenue.

Is there appoint to having someone holed up in IT, marketing, or business development whose role is to try and perform Social-CRM acts of prestidigitation that in turn yield delighted patients?  Or are all of our efforts simply boosting our feelings of self-worth, sort of a, we don’t know where we are going but we are making really good time, approach to patient experience?

Mindless self-promotion. (I borrowed some of the best phrases here from Gabriel Perna’s May 24th piece in healthcareinformatics.com.)

Here is what I think.  Your hospital cost somewhere between eight and nine figures to build, and salaries and operating expenses run well into the millions.  The lobbies in some hospitals probably cost several million dollars to build.  And why is that?  Because you know it is important to make a good impression. 

Permit me to get way off track for a paragraph.  The above photo of a hospital’s lobby looks more like a Hyatt than a hospital.  That seems to be a trend.  Make the lobby feel customer friendly.  And yet, most hospitals would rather close than acknowledge that patients are also customers.  If people can be both customers and patients, why not have programs that improve both patient experience and customer satisfaction?  They are not the same.  QED.

But guess what?

Every day more people ‘visit’ your hospital on the internet and on the phone than visit the facility.  How much did you spend on making impressions in those venues?  Can patients and non-patients accomplish the same tasks on the phone or by visiting the internet as they could if they went to your hospital?

If they cannot, your hospital has wasted its money. The navigation for most hospital websites appears to visitors like someone took a five hundred piece jigsaw puzzle and dumped all the pieces on your monitor. Most visitors will spend a few seconds looking for the corner pieces and then will give up.

If your hospital has not fully rethought its entire web strategy in the last two years it does not have a web strategy.

If you need a hint for one here’s mine—a remarkable experience for every patient every time that is mobile and available 24 x 7 on any device.

It will cost less than building a new lobby and will have a much higher ROI.

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