Patient Experience: The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Experience

In my thirty years of consulting, I have noticed a recurring theme when it comes to firms that give lip service to innovation.  Often, many people only recognize the window of opportunity by the sound that window makes when it slams shut.

If you think your role in your organization is too small for you impact innovation, try spending the night in a room with a few mosquitoes and you will understand how small things can make a significant impact.

There are two distinct camps when it comes to understanding how consumerism should be applied in your organization.  Your leaders are in one camp.  Your patients and customers are in the other.  Just because you are confused does not mean they are.

As you know, I’ve been the guy screaming ‘fire’ when it comes to patient and customer access.  During my run, it occurred to me that I have grossly understated the severity of the access problem.  My typical rant has started and ended with the statement that nearly 100% of access occurs in the call center.

My understatement comes from the fact that my statement ignores all the failed access attempts. The number of failed attempts, both online and on the phone, greatly exceed the number of successful attempts.  Any even for those attempts that are successful, the user experience is lacking.

For example, 70%-80% of the people who go to your website to accomplish something cannot do what they wanted.  Their attempts at access failed.  However, those who simply went to the website to read about their health system or their payer are in luck.  They are rewarded with thousands of irrelevant links to browse.  For some reason, companies view their website as a digital repository for every bit of information they’ve ever produced.  It’s sort of like healthcare’s self-styled Wikipedia.

Sorry for my digression.  Call centers are also a terrific way to generate hundreds of failed access attempts each day.  People call.  Those who have a bad experience speaking with your employees, or who give up while being placed on hold, or who give up while being transferred to another person, don’t call back.  Not only is that bad for business, it degrades patient care. Many of us who have called about a health issue have found it to be too much trouble to get to the right person, or have been instructed to leave a voice message simply decide to take it upon ourselves to figure out how to meet our need.

People do not want to work hard to manage their care or to do business with your firm.

Whether your organization is a provider or a payer, having a call center has nothing to do with innovation.  In fact, having a call center to manage access and engagement is about the least innovative thing any organization can do.  Having a call center is a detriment to your patients and customers.  If your patients could tell you how they feel about having to call you, they would show you a smart device and say, “Hey, Flintstone, this is the future.”

If you want to think innovative, ask “What would our organization have to do to meet the needs of our patients, customers, or members if we did not have a call center?”  Now the naysayers would have you believe that not everyone has access to a smart device.  That is a myth.  A myth that keeps call center consultants in business.  They want to help you improve your call center.  So why innovate a tool nobody wants to use?  It’s a harsh reality, but nobody wants to talk to your organization.  Netflix figured that out.  As have Amazon and Google and Facebook.  “But we are not Netflix or Amazon or Google or Facebook.”  You could be, and you probably should be.  Those firms spell innovation with a capital ‘I’.

There is a technology that can solve the problem with bad access almost overnight.  If you would like to learn about it send me a message.

Your firm is either pushing the envelope or it is in the envelope.  The good news is that in healthcare every organization is still inside the envelope.  All are equally bad when it comes to innovating access.

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