Patient Access: Sprinkles Are For Winners

Our perceptions are often based upon our perspective.

The perception of someone inside a building viewing a snow storm may have the perspective, “It is cold”.  The perception of someone standing in the snow storm viewing the inside of the building may have the perspective, “It is warm.”

In thinking through the issues of patient access and patient experience it occurred to me that perhaps the root of the problem is one of perspective.  It must be, unless you believe that healthcare executives are so callous as to not care about the experiences people have when they try to access their institution.

I happen to think some of the conflicts associated with poor access and poor experience have to do with two definitions, namely how healthcare defines the terms ‘access’ and ‘patient’.

Healthcare defines access as access to affordable healthcare.  Healthcare defines patient as someone receiving care even though population health may suggest that everyone living inside the health syste’s radius of care is to some degree their patient.

People—patients and consumers (prospective patients)—define access as their ability to access the health system; the institution.  Those same people define the term patient much more broadly.  For the most part, if they have purchased healthcare from any part of your institution they probably think of themselves as your patient.  Even if they simply live in the area they are likely to think “That is my hospital”.  Please note, this does not imply loyalty, it may just imply convenience.

So, knowing that healthcare executives are not callous, that they want people to have a good experience when they try to access their institution, one must assume that healthcare executives believe people do have good experiences.  Otherwise, those executives would undertake initiatives to improve those experiences.  Perception and perspective.

I think healthcare executives view the access experience their system offers like this.

Everyone is happy.

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In the real world, however, the people trying to access their health system using their phones think it looks a lot more like this.

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And when you ask those same people how they would like to access their health system it looks a lot more like this.

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Those same people access their bank with a smart device, and Doctors on Demand, and their phone company.  And they buy cars using a smart device, and they get a mortgage.  And they do this whenever they want; not just Monday through Friday between 8 and 5. The only thing they cannot do using a smart device is access their healthcare.

Patients know healthcare can fix this problem.  What they do not understand is why it doesn’t fix it.

Invite your health system’s leadership out for ice cream, and ask them why they don’t fix access.  If any one of them asks for sprinkles all you need to say is “Sprinkles are for winners”.

Thanks Flo.

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