- Just like retail industries have to cater to shoppers’ needs, healthcare organizations must focus on patient experience in order to thrive in an increasingly consumer-driven landscape.
Increasingly, out-of-pocket patient costs are rising and patients are assuming more financial responsibility for their healthcare. And as a result, patients are becoming choosier about where they access treatment.
According to Banner Health Vice President of the Consumer Experience Center Dave Kriesand, healthcare organizations need to respond the same way other industries have: by putting the customer – or the patient – at the center.
“As consumers have more choice and increased personal out-of-pocket expenses, they will be more selective with their dollars and look for experiences that are easy, personalized and build an emotional connection,” Kriesand said in an email to PatientEngagementHIT.com. “This is no different from what we all experience with companies like Apple, Amazon, USAA and American Express.”
In retail settings, it might be important that consumers buy goods that are high quality, but they also want products that suit their personal preferences. Additionally, customers want to have a positive shopping experience, from the store environment to customer service efforts.
Although patient needs have always been important at Banner Health, Kriesand says he has recently taken the consumer-centered care model to the next level. The Arizona-based non-profit health system needed to take the same consumer-centered approach as retail stores, he said, to keep customer – or patient – retention in an increasingly consumer-centric economy.
“As consumers have more choice and healthcare decisions impact their wallets more, they will increasingly compare their healthcare experience to the expectations they have developed in other aspects of their lives,” Kriesand said. “Healthcare organizations will need to live up to a new service expectation if they want to continue to win the business of their service savvy customers.”
To meet this need, Banner Health adopted technology to gauge real-time patient experience throughout the hospital stay. The tool, called InMoment, gives providers up-to-date information about patient needs or complaints, allowing them the opportunity to mitigate any issues.
“We believe receiving near real-time feedback will not only improve the quality of the feedback, but also enable us to better respond to our customers’ expectations,” Kriesand said.
“While CAHPS provides a good amount of detail around the experience, the paper-based process did not provide the timely information we absolutely need in today’s consumer-driven economy.”
For Banner Health, this effort is about collecting actionable data to improve their patient care. Not only will the tool allow providers to mitigate real-time patient issues, but it will offer clinician or team training and provide historical trends for patient experience issues.
“We do have a hunch around our strengths and opportunities,” Kriesand asserted. “But data drives better action than hunches.”
Now, instead of guessing what the patient needs, or using general patient surveys to make hospital-wide improvements, providers can use real-time data to make changes for individual patients. Ideally, this will help boost patient satisfaction on a case by case basis.
“We believe the ‘voice of the customer’ data will be a powerful tool allowing our organization to hear our customers’ voices and fully understand their expectations around the care and service we deliver daily,” Kriesand continued.
At Banner Health, providing a quality healthcare experience does not begin and end with curing the patient. While it is important for Banner Health providers to provide quality treatment, this is only one piece of the puzzle for the organization.
“For us, being a customer service organization means consumers will not only choose us for our exceptional clinical quality, but also for a convenient and engaging experience,” Kriesand explained. “In fact, this push for better consumer-based healthcare will eventually lead to better outcomes.”
“Customer-obsessed organizations realize a higher level of brand loyalty and engagement,” Kriesand said. “A better experience yields stronger patient engagement which is tied to better patient outcomes.”
While the potential patient retention benefits or consumer-driven healthcare are important for hospital revenue cycle, improving patient outcomes is ultimately the most important thing.
By ensuring patients are comfortable and receiving compassionate care, as well as quality treatment, healthcare organizations can ensure that they are meeting all of their patient-centered goals.