Patients As Customers?

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Patients As Customers?

Is it too far fetched to treat our patients as if they were visiting a five-star restaurant?  Not necessarily in today’s healthcare world.

It is natural for us to hold on old habits.  We have our comfort zones whether they relate to food recipes, business practices or even the delivery of healthcare.  Your favorite seafood prepared the same way by every restaurant, or the latest smartphone with only the same features as all of its competition would hardly be considered exceptional.  And so it goes with healthcare. 

Historically patients go to the hospital or doctor’s office to feel better.  However, they may actually feel worse after experiencing inconvenient parking, inordinate waiting times, and indifferent staff attitudes.  There are changes underway that will demand higher performance from our healthcare institutions.  More and more patients are demanding a positive experience along the path to feeling better.  Why is this happening?  Hospitals are now advertising that they can deliver special services that separate them from nearby hospitals and their Medicare patients are receiving HCAHPS surveys to rate their experience.

Today’s patients have become consumers and they expect to be treated well in addition to eventually feeling better.  They are constantly being told by friends, family and now the media and hospitals that this should be their expectation.

The noted customer service and patient experience consultant, Micah Solomon, wrote recently in Forbes Magazine that healthcare is “hospitality with healing”.  He advocates that medical providers and institutions resist the temptation merely to compare themselves with others in their own industry.  This only will encourage acceptance of the “status quo”, while falling short of the patient’s expectations.  Instead, he urges setting the benchmark for healthcare customer service at the level being utilized by service-intensive industries such as retail, foodservice and financial services.  Only then will a truly exceptional patient experience be delivered to the consumer.     

 

 

 

Dr. Doug Finefrock is a leading national specialist in improving the Patient Experience and HCAHPS scores.  His Patient SET™ Program "Satisfaction Every Time" with The Sullivan Group includes physician CME and nursing CE online video courses that provide scalable communication training for healthcare workers.