Patient Experience: Are You Chasing Mediocrity?

People will tell you that health systems cannot sell them anything even though they have large marketing and business development departments.  Patients are not sold healthcare by the health system, they purchase healthcare from the health system.  Patients hold the power.

If you want to build your business stop trying to sell people your services.  Instead, make it easy for them to buy your services.  Become the health system that is easy to do business with.

Unfortunately, few if any health systems are doing that.

What would happen if a fifty-four hundred people (one person for every hospital) were standing together in a field, and they each took one step forward.  The next month they did exactly the same, and so forth and so on, ad nauseum.  The crowd would certainly have changed places, but relative to one another the individuals would all be about as far apart from each other as they were when they started.  Not much would have changed, at least not much that was noticeable. To a prospective buyer all they can see is a lot of chaff and no wheat.

Now what would happen if one person—or hospital—decided to be innovative and did something disruptive and separated themselves from the crowd?  What if hospital sprinted in a different direction?  They came to a fork in the road and they took it.

With every hospital’s focus on HCAHPs, it can be argued that they are all moving across the field somewhat in lock-step.  Now before anyone gets the notion that I am arguing that hospitals should stop focusing on HCAHPs that is not my intention.  Improving HCAHPs is a good thing.  Getting each hospital moving towards one hundred percent in all categories is a good thing. Sort of.  Just remember, nailing HCAHPs is not the same thing as nailing patient experience.

With every health system taking one step forward on their goal to improve the patient experience of each surveyed patient, who then is responsible for moving the organization forward for improving the satisfaction of all patients?

Doing what every other health system is doing is not innovative.  It will neither drive patient retention or referrals, nor will it improve the satisfaction of those people, patients and prospective patients, who visit the hospital via the web or by using the phone.  It will also have little or no effect on those who were surveyed—they have already been discharged.  It will also have a similar effect on those who were not surveyed.

Innovation is the application of new solutions to meet needs or changing market requirements.  For innovation to work an organization must acknowledge a problem/opportunity.  Like a 12-step program. Hi, my name is Paul and we have a patient satisfaction problem.

The health system that chooses to separate itself from the pack will recognize that most of an individual’s satisfaction with their interaction with the health system happens outside of the hospital’s four walls.  It happens before they are admitted and after they are discharged.

I like to define it as follows:

The total quality of a person’s (patient & non patient) encounter is equal to the sum of the Patient’s Experience (HCAHPs) plus Patient Satisfaction (all of the other interactions they have with people, process, and systems.)  If your health system has not totally reinvented those interactions in the last three years the access experience you are providing is well below what it could be.

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