Sunday, September 30, 2012

Are we too focused on satisfaction in patient experience management?

When was the last time in your patient experience management efforts, you looked at the entirety of the patient experience inside and out, as opposed to what takes place inside the four walls of the hospital?

From the questions and requests I receive regarding patient experience management, it's usually preference by we are looking t improve our satisfaction scores. And interestingly enough, well , I find it interesting, is that these questions come not from healthcare marketers, but from clinicians and quality professionals who have been charged with improving the patient experience. Really, they are fully versed on how the patient views the totality of the organization beyond the clinical experience?

Patient satisfaction is but one indicator of experience, not the be all and end all. Experience management is about the totality of the patients experience a from first contact through diagnosis, treatment, discharge and post care. So why then you are only focusing on the inpatient or ambulatory experience, as measured by satisfaction scores?. Your efforts are too focused and too narrow.

Patient Experience Management is all about the culture.

It is not managing to a survey.

It is not just a program.

It is not just a one-time activity.

Healthcare providers do "dumb things" all the time. And they never seem to learn from that experience. So what happens when test results aren't available, the bill is wrong and a person cannot get the information they want or is on hold for too long?

Well, all the compensatory goodwill built up in the patient encounter is lost because of these little "dumb mistakes" that healthcare providers make day-in and day-out. Those mistakes continue to build until they become non-compensatory event. Meaning that all the good encountered in the patient experience is washed away like a flood.

That's why it's important to view Patient Experience Management in its totality and not as an one service or clinical line experience. It may be for you, but to the healthcare customer-patient who views your organization across numerous touch-points and aggregates all of it into one overall experience, it's not.

Part of the process of experience management is actively managing customers-patients experiences to meet expectations and change their experiences to drive revenue and market share improvements. It's not all about the patient satisfaction numbers. Experience management has a definable and measurable financial outcome. But you cannot achieve those revenue outcomes if you are not looking at experience management in its totality.

By not fully understanding your customer-patient in their totality, you are not successfully managing their experience or expectations.

When was the last time you considered making marketing part of the experience management efforts beyond making things look pretty? Now that's a really dumb hospital mistake.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Should outcomes transparency drive healthcare marketing?


In a very enlightening article "How to Stop Hospitals From Killing Us", by Dr. Marty Makary, Wall Street Journal, Saturday, September 22. 2012, writes about the importance of outcomes transparency for hospitals. It's about releasing your outcomes data to patients and others so that they can make informed decisions.

It's time for hospital executives to stand up, be counted and stop the equivalent of four, fully loaded jumbo jets crashing each day and killing all aboard like we do in healthcare.

This is a topics that is near and dear to me. Well maybe even a soapbox issue, having written about using outcomes dates and being transparent in healthcare marketing for the past couple of years.

And I am glad to see a physician stand up and say, it's time for a change. Writing specifically on the types of data and in a dashboard format.

I think and have maintain for a while now, that it is time to give the healthcare consumer be it physicians, payers, government, employer, individual or family, or any other stakeholder you can identify, quality and outcomes data to make decisions.

That's really the only avenue left for healthcare providers, to start talking about quality and outcomes. Engaging in a meaningful dialogue, that goes beyond accreditation logos and quality awards from third parties, to an actual honest-to-goodness quality and outcomes disclosure and discussion.

Few healthcare providers are willing. Most are afraid of this direction. But, it's a strategy and tactic that can break the current cycle of avoidance and loss. Recognizing that your customers are best served by the healthcare organization that places them first in a meaningful way, is open and transparent.

You have some choices here. Stay the course and do what you have been doing. Get lost in an endless paralysis by analysis loop. Mimic your competitors. Talk about quality and outcomes in vague terms. Or, be the first in your market, to establish a clear strategic marketing plan focused on your healthcare consumers about your brand, quality and outcomes.

Sooner or later, you are going to have to do this.

If you are not willing to change, then don't expect a different outcome from doing the same old healthcare marketing that you have been.

I suggest that you read the article. The future of healthcare outcomes disclosure is here.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Can you leverage the hospital readmissions issue in your market?


Okay, before I start getting bombarded with the "how can you even think that you can use the readmission penalties being leveled against hospitals in marketing" statements, hear me out. Readmissions is a complicated issue that involves a lot more than the hospital stay. In some cases, it is the hospital and I have experienced it personally.

So, what does it mean to leverage the readmissions issue with your hospital good or bad in your market area? Two trains of thought here.

The first one is if you're getting the charged with a penalty and identified in the CMS list, then I suggest to you, instead of diving for under the desk and ignoring the issue hoping that the public won't pay attention, is a dreadfully wrong strategy. Ignoring it because people can't understand it, and its way to complicated to explain anyway.

You need to design a PR and marketing campaign that explains the readmissions issue in terms the healthcare consumer can understand.

People are paying attention and will assume that if you aren't talking about it then you're hiding something. So, leverage it and turn the tables. Show how you are becoming the market leader by attacking the complexities of the issue. Turn it from a hospital-focused issue to a healthcare delivery issue. Don't blame, lead.

Remember, if you have been touting those quality awards, and when this happens, the healthcare consumer will have some cognizance dissonance going on in their head. The two aren't mutually exclusive in the minds of consumers and are linked. Which really only reinforces their belief that those awards are meaningless, if you are being penalized because patients are being readmitted to your hospital in less than 30 days for what they were treated for in the first place. If you let that happen, shame on you.

The second thought is leveraging the issue by moving into the realm of outcomes transparency in your marketing and PR efforts.

I am not advocating in the least to link outcomes to readmissions. What I am saying that is if you have a very low readmissions rates, there are a lot of reasons for that and you need to be clear about why what you are doing is so different than everyone else. The healthcare consumer what's to know. Start talking about your outcomes, linkages in the community and support provided. It's called leading with a better way and informing the healthcare consumer.

It takes finesse to handle, but you have one very large opportunity to redefine the market and perceptions based on transparency.

Hospital senior leadership and Boards, can no longer take the road of silence. Healthcare has already changed too much and the healthcare consumer is demanding more. Old ways don't work, so you might as well get with the program and start leveraging opportunities as they present.

Readmissions PR and marketing is one of those opportunities and it's not going to be the last.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Who do you market, primary care physicians or specialists?


Another way to ask that question is who matters more going forward; the high-cost specialist or the primary care physician who is the gatekeeper for admissions, referrals and treatment? The answer is really self explanatory.

So why then do hospitals and health systems continue to market their specialists?

I think there are a number of reason for that, but mainly healthcare marketing and in some cases senior leadership is slow to change their marketing paradigm. It's easier internally to promote specialists. Its feeds internal hospital beast that marketing is doing something. It makes the Board and senior management happy not to mention the specialists.

Let's face it, I never heard hospital senior management jump up and down with glee when I talked about physician referral advertising and promoting primary care. And that was in the 1990s. Still pretty much true today in 2012.

But primary care is where it is at and healthcare marketing departments with their senor leadership teams need to get on the train. This goes well beyond just employing primary care physicians. It mean making substantial changes in your healthcare marketing and not focusing on the gee-whiz technology or specialty physician.

With millions of people potentially gaining health insurance, their first stop is going to be the primary care physician not the specialist. It may even be a physician extender in a retail clinic setting. But, it won't be the hospital or the specialist.

Okay, maybe the hospital ED where you can get the chance to involve a primary care physician in the follow-up care. But in the near future that's the last place you want to see someone for routine care. And people will continue to go there if they don't have a primary care physician.

So when you think about 2013 marketing, I highly recommend that all you healthcare marketers out there start focusing on marketing your primary care physicians. Including those primary care physicians that are employed as well as those that are independent practitioners admitting to your inpatient beds and referring to your outpatient services.

Building a differentiate-able market position, defendable experience/service strategy to get ahead of your competition, as well as the ability to participate in risk sharing and value based purchasing agreements is going to depend heavily on your ability to market your primary care physicians.

If you wait until 2014 to change your healthcare marketing strategy from specialist to primary care, it will already be too late.

That sound you hear is the train leaving the station.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Why can't you get the customer/ patient experience right?


Patients and healthcare consumers alike are seeking information on great outcomes and experience. That's right. Great outcomes and experiences. Not ordinary outcomes or experiences. Telling the healthcare consumer that you provide compassionate care and high-quality medical care, is falling on deaf ears. Especially, when the experience doesn't even come close to the claim.

And as we get deeper into the Affordable Care Act with risk and value -based payment models, experience will play a deciding role in success or failure. Healthcare consumers will bypass those hospitals and healthcare providers that have less than great outcomes or experiences. Same for insurance plans, doctors and others. When the individual has some skin in the game, i.e., high out-of pocket expenses and deductibles, their experience matters.

I am not saying that is fair, or right. It is a reality of a changing marketplace.

When healthcare executives are surveyed, the majority say that customer/patient experience management is a critical business success factor along with patient safety and cost reduction. But at the same time, the majority of healthcare CEOs, admit that they really don't know where to start on successfully managing the experience.

And it is just not hospitals. Insurance companies, specialty pharmacies, PBMs, home health and others, that are experiencing the same challenges in managing patient, consumer or member experience.

I know leadership is considering the ever increasing role of satisfaction scores in the CMS value purchasing programs and they effect of HCAHPS on revenue. It has a direct financial outcome. Do well and receive additional revenue, fail and it will cost you. Insurance companies will follow the government and move to more value purchasing arrangements as well.

A financial whammy approaches that requires new ways of doing business for the healthcare provider. News ways of marketing and communicating to patients and healthcare consumers. Change and you can prosper. Refuse and find financial difficulties caused by market share losses.

Experience management is about changing the way you interact with the individual or family from start to finish. Not just at isolated points along the care continuum, Managing the experience requires a complete understanding of what the patients expectations are, not yours. Experience Management is culturally and organizationally uncomfortable. And that is because it's not about you anymore.

If you are not in direct conversation with your patients or healthcare consumers you will never get it right.

The speed of change in healthcare has accelerated beyond the point of no return. Healthcare providers no longer have the time to engage in endless internal dialogue, and paralysis by analysis planning loops, before moving forward. Individuals expect you to care. Individuals expect you to have high-quality outcomes.

The only way you can differentiate is through creating and maintaining that exceptional experience. And that only comes through active management of the experience process.

If you want to succeed you have to learn to manage the whole experience process, not just one piece of it. Until you do that, you can't get it right.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.