Patient Experience: What Is The One Question Nobody Is Asking?

Today’s blog is brought to us by the letter D.

There are things patients think that they do not tell the people who work in hospitals.  Some, but not many people who work in hospitals know what patients think.  The more senior the hospital person, the more acronyms they have on their business card, the less likely they are to know.

Here is a hint.  The people who answer the phones, and the people who do the billing know them.  And I bet they have tried to share their knowledge, but nobody listens to them.

The physicians, nurses, therapists, dieticians, and laboratory technicians all know what their patients think about their healthcare.

The people who answer the phones, the people who do the scheduling, those doing the admitting, and those doing the billing and collections know what their customers think.

The person doing all of this thinking is the patient.  It is also the customer.  The patient is the customer.  They are both patient and customer.  But very few people on the clinical side, and perhaps fewer still in executive roles seem to get it.

Patients have to accomplish two things when they deal with the hospital.

  1. They have to be treated by the hospital
  2. They have to do business with the hospital

Their experience, the total quality of their encounter with your organization (TQE), the bit about whether they will ever return, will ever refer your organization, will pay their bill, is the level of satisfaction of their combined experiences of A and B.

If you are exceptional at treating patients—A, and someone finds that you are exceedingly difficult to do business with, that someone will not do business with you again.

You know your level of patient experience—A—down to a gnat’s eyelash of accuracy.  You beat it up like you are playing whack-A-mol.  You measure it, you have committees empowered to improve it, you buy data to analyze it, and you hires coaches to improve it.  Smile.

How easy are you to do business with?  Oh, really?

I think it is fair to say that almost nobody at a senior level knows if your hospital is easy to do business with—B.  Nothing is measured, there are no committees, and it is not being analyzed.  Heck, there probably has not been a project in the last three years that has even asked the question.

If this question has not been asked and innovatively answered since tablets became common place you do not even need to ask the question. You are not easy to do business with.

If you spent more money on your lobby than you spent on your digital and mobile (think website and customer portal—not the same thing as your patient portal) strategy, you do not even need to ask the question.

You are not easy do do business with.

10 thoughts on “Patient Experience: What Is The One Question Nobody Is Asking?

  1. As a former long-term patient, I can assure you that the second item becomes progressively more important over time. When you are in the hospital and getting harrassing calls from collection agencies trying to get you to pay your hospital bill from your last stay, you have a clear sign of a problem.


  2. Pingback: How easy are we to do business with? | Healthcare in Translation

  3. How can it be easy for one to business with you if they don’t know the prices of the services you are selling? Do YOU know the prices of the services you are selling?


  4. One of the many underlying issues is the structure of healthcare organizations. Most are very hierarchical. This one of the outcomes of that. Why do healthcare organizations staffed by some of the brightest, passionate people on the planet need to be run in the same organization structure as the Roman army? The early companies in the industrial revolution?


  5. The other question no one is asking is what is the level of burnout in your front line providers and what is THEIR satisfaction with working in your organization. This sets up the one, two punch to the gut for the patient
    1) Their doctor was late, distracted and unable to give their undivided attention
    2) Then the hospital billing process drove them bonkers

    When you find an organization that optimizes two things
    – The provider’s experience (nurses, doctors, everyone with direct patient contact) so that they are able to give their best
    – The patient’s experience … including everything about the business that happens before and after the business
    THAT is the definition of a disruptive innovation IMHO

    Dike Drummond MD


  6. Paul – this is a fantastic post with great messages! Thank you. And it’s directly applicable to every member of the hospital care team – doctor, nurse, CNA, therapist, social worker, ward clerk… “how easy are you to do ‘business’ with?” As a physician leader, I try to put the same sentiment of your question to caregivers directly

    Mark Rudolph, MD


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