Hospitals are realizing that they need to do more to not only bring more patients into the facility, but also to provide them with a better experience during their visit. Where better to look for inspiration than two other consumer-facing industries that have always tackled these challenges? Hospitality and retail.
Until recently, hospitals were the only game in town when it came to a wide range of health issues. If you needed urgent care, chemotherapy or surgery, you had to go to the hospital. But new clinics are popping up all over the country, and many patients are finding that they would much rather explore these options than go to the hospital. Plus, many healthcare consumers are now paying for a larger percentage of their hospital costs out of pocket, which means they are scrutinizing those expenditures more carefully than ever before. And, with easy access to information about hospitals’ patient satisfaction data, consumers are realizing that they can be choosier.
So, what are hospitals doing to attract patients? Simply put, they’re trying to treat them like valued customers. This “consumerization of healthcare” is turning the hospital-patient relationship upside down – and it seems to have a positive effect on patient satisfaction.
To be more patient-friendly, hospitals are re-examining every aspect of their operations large and small. When it comes to IT priorities, architectural design, staff development, billing, food service, patient rooms and everything else – the decision-making is increasingly centered on patient engagement, improving care quality, convenience, and satisfaction.
This transformation of the hospital healthcare delivery model is critical to the future success or failure of any hospital, says a 2014 PwC Health Research Institute Report, Healthcare’s new entrants: Who will be the industry’s Amazon.com? “Consumers will abandon companies unable to deliver care on their terms. Health organizations should understand consumers’ needs and desires, creating new options for access, information and products and services. Consider rethinking operating hours, availability of clinicians via digital devices and transparency of pricing and quality.”
To facilitate these changes from the top down, hospitals are redefining the C-suite to create positions like “chief innovation officer” and “chief experience officer.” Some institutions have even established an entire department focused on the patient experience. For example, The Cleveland Clinic established its Office of Patient Experience and promotes the concept through its annual Patient Experience: Empathy + Innovation Summit (which is open to attendees from other institutions) and its participation in the Association for Patient Experience (AfPE), which it founded.
Staffing and training have also been shown to greatly improve the patient experience, from little things like saying “please” and “thank you” and knocking on a patient’s door before entering, to bigger things like overall attitude and commitment to patient-centered care.
What has your facility done to improve patient engagement and satisfaction? What do you think works or doesn’t seem to help? Do you have additional ideas for ways facilities can create a better patient experience? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.