How To Keep Losing Prospective Patients

ImageHalcyon days.  This is what the seventies created.  For those thinking this is the lead guitarist for Aerosmith, Dream On.  Where were my parents when I was thinking this was cool?

While running this weekend I was passed by someone who was the spitting image of me at seventeen. Long, loping strides, not an ounce of visible fat, his hair tied back in a ponytail.  (I would keep the fat in a heartbeat to get my hair back.)  At the end of my run my neighbor asked me why I was executing the yoga funeral position on her front lawn—I was reclined fully, my arms by my sides, had I been wearing an oxygen monitor it would have redlined.  I thought I was simply trying to breath.

On Friday one of my favorite people on the planet, someone I had not heard from in thirty years, viewed my profile on LinkedIn.  I invited her to connect.  As of now the invitation has not been accepted.  And as she is an assistant DA, in an effort not to have her last memory of me as that of a stalker, I am inclined to assume I am no longer thought of as one of her favorite people.  Cherchez la femme.

Apparently you cannot go back.  Unless you happen to run a hospital.

I find it helps to separate the business of healthcare—how it is run—from the healthcare business—the services delivered.  I focus on how it is run; an 0.2—if you read this aloud as ‘oh-dot-2’ the use of ‘an’ makes more sense–model with outdated business processes and seventies technology trying to operate in a 2.0 world.

Most hospital executives would agree they are striving to achieve a common goal.  From where I sit, that goal should be sustainability.  You can deliver the best care in the world, but if you cannot afford to keep the lights on, your skill at delivering great care sort of becomes secondary.

Sustainability has two factors;

  • the ability to retain patients
  • the ability to attract new patients.

Patient attraction and retention are very closely connected to the answer to the question, “How easy is it to do business with your hospital?”

Unfortunately, I would wager that there is not a single person in your hospital who can answer correctly that question.  The only people who can answer that question are the people who buy healthcare from your hospital, and those who considered buying it from your hospital but who chose another hospital.

And nobody is asking them.

What if those people ‘in the know’ at your hospital, those who manage the budgets, those whose last image of a patient was when they had their tonsils removed, could see how patients and prospective patients perceive your hospital.

Ignoring chronic disease, I am willing to bet the more than fifty percent of your hospital’s revenues in the next five years will come from new patients. Who are they, who could they have been, and why did they or did they not choose your hospital are pretty important questions to answer.  Does your hospital have the tools to answer those questions?

The questions would seem much less inconsequential if there was a way for your executives to view how people decide if they are going to choose your hospital to deliver their care.  How would those executives react if they were able to view prospective patients (customers) visiting and then quickly leaving the hospital’s website?

Imagine the executives seated in the board room, drinking their café mochas, and watching live feeds of people going to your web site.  The first visitor spends a minute on the home page, and then clicks on the link for ‘Our Lady of Patient Experience Hospital.’  Your executives look at each other wondering why the person went somewhere else.  They pull up the homepage, assess it, and find it to be exceptional.  Every piece of information, including forty-seven phone numbers, is depicted on the page.  What more could people want, wonder the executives?

The executive committee spends several hours watching people interact with their website.  They do not know how many people will return to the site, how many people selected their hospital for services, how many people had a remarkable experience, or why people went elsewhere.

Before hospital executives try to answer the question about the hospital’s sustainability, they ought to consider what it would take to answer those four questions.

If it is not easy for people to do business with your hospital, they won’t.

2 thoughts on “How To Keep Losing Prospective Patients

  1. Good article – one challenge is to define who is your customer, and that answer is different depending upon the disease and treatment plan. Ambulance drivers, surgeons, primary care, women’s health, health plans, IPA’s and medical groups, oh and patients, families and ………


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