What are the 3 biggest Patient Experience problems?

Let’s do a quick survey.

Have you ever flown on American Airlines? If so, how would you rate your experience?

  • Can’t wait to fly them again
  • The only thing that could have made it worse was if the pre-flight music was Celine Dion’s latest CD.
  • I would gnaw off my leg before I would fly them again.

Same questions for US AIR.

Let’s try another question.  American and US AIR are in the process of merging. Would you expect your experience with the merged entity to be (A) better, (B) the same, or (C) worse? Hint; (A) and (B) are not viable choices.

Permit me to raise similar questions with some of our other favorite industries. Insurance—pick your two favorite payers. Telecommunications—Comcast and Verizon. I would rather stick a fork in my ear than have to call any of these firms. In fact, I put off calling these firms, often to my detriment.

Why? Because the experience is painful and unproductive. Because it is an exercise in futility. Because there is nothing I can do to control the experience.

Now let’s apply this reasoning to healthcare. American and US AIR. The experiences of the combined firms becomes worse than your experience of any one of the original firms; a fact that is almost unfathomable given how poor the original experiences were. People are left trying to answer the question—how could the experience possibly have worsened?

At least those airlines have automated the bad experiences they provide their customers. You can have a bad experience online and you can have an equally bad experience on the phone. At least those firms employ CRM systems for inbound calls to at least given the agent on the phone a way to try to be helpful.

Hospitals do neither. None of their customer experience processes are automated. There are almost no tasks a patient or customer can do on a hospital’s website other than read about the hospital.  None of the people who answer the calls to the hospital have the tools they need to improve the experiences of the callers. With an airline you have the luxury of having a bad experience 24 X 7.  With most hospitals you can only have the bad customer experience Monday through Friday between 8 AM and 5 PM.

Now suppose the hospital is part of an IDN, or has acquired another provider, or has a few clinics. How does the customer experience of the combined entity compare? When you combine one experience that was never designed to be exceptional with another experience that was never designed to be exceptional, would you expect the combined experiences to be better or worse?

The business experiences people have with hospitals require individuals to talk with a hospital employee either face-to-face or by phone.  The three biggest problems people have with hospital experiences is that the experiences:

  • Are not controlled by the individual
  • Are not automated
  • Are not available 24 X 7

Each of these problems can be corrected. All that is needed is for someone to decide to do it.

Until then, call one of the airlines and go somewhere nice.

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