Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why are you delaying the start to improve patient experience and satisfaction?


In the October 2012 issue of HealthLeaders, the article "Placing your Bets" contained a chart that caught my eye regarding the ranking of the top issues that are CEO priorities over the next three years. No surprise as improving patient experience and satisfaction is the No.2 priority over the next 3 years. Just like it has been for the past couple of years.

Which led me to wonder, are you out of time to start the process and do you really have three years?

Don't take me wrong, there has been some total patient experience improvement activity especially by some notable and prestigious healthcare organizations. For the rest of the healthcare industry, the majority of patient experience activities have focused on one or two clinical or diagnostic services isolated from the entire patient experience first touch-point to last.

Patient experience is built from the first time an individual comes in contact with you to the very last contact with all of the individual touch-points along the way playing a significant role. Satisfaction is a measure of part of that journey that focuses on the care experience. Which if you think about it, only cover one-third of the time that an individual is really a "patient".

Improving the patient experience and satisfaction is as much about changing the culture of the organization as it is improving the touch-points and process. And to change an organizational culture to improve the patient experience to bring the experience into alignment with satisfaction takes at least five years.

If you want to improve the patient experience and satisfaction scores, you have to focus on the organizational culture as much as the touch-points and processes of experience and satisfaction.

I started writing about patient experience management in January 2011. Even back then it was always listed in various CEO surveys has a high priority. You can search the blog for the whole series if you wish too. Make sure that you use the term customer experience as well.

Improving the patient experience or satisfaction scores is not like flipping a switch that when the time comes. It takes time, effort, market research by talking to your patients, process and touch-point improvement and change. And that takes time; a lot of it.

No red easy button here.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. 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. Like us on facebook at the michael J group.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

How come you don’t talk to your patients and map the experience?



As I have written many times over the past few years, to fix patient experience you have to look at the entire patient experience journey from the first touch point to the last. That can only come from talking directly to your patients and completing an experience map. That means you have to talk to your patients, not just your employees, senior leadership or physicians. Patient satisfaction scores are not a proxy for engaging directly with patients in an experience map exercise.

With so much riding on experience today, I am still amazed at the number of healthcare organizations that treat patient experience like it is some isolated event that only happens within the four walls of a healthcare organization. That is old school and is a really dangerous way to live if you’re serious about your healthcare organization surviving in the years to come.

Is it that terrifying for you to have an honest to goodness face-to-face conversation with your patients to really understand their experience? I mean really, stop talking about being a Kaiser, Mayo or MD Anderson “wannabe” in the area of emulating their patient experience. Because unless you are willing to map the patent experience based on those patient conversations and not the guesses of employees, managers, physicians and leadership, it’s not going to improve.

Patients know more about you than you can possibly imagine and they are looking for reason to deselect you from their choice of providers. They do look to the Mayo and Kaiser experience, their reputation and what they have heard from a variety of sources, using that as the gold standard for patient experience and you know what, you are just not measuring up.

That is not to say you have to be a Mayo, Kaiser or MD Anderson. What that does mean is the you have to talk directly to your patients, map the experiences from beginning to end and then make changes across all of the patient touch points to create that exceptional patent experience. Without that, your patient experience improvement process and attempts are just hollow shells.

Here is another little secret too about improving patient experience.

Involve you marketing departments in patient experience process. Not to make things look pretty or design a nice logo for the effort, but to help you talk to your patients. It's not about you it's about them. Isn't that part of the reason of why you have a marketing department, to understand the needs of your customers and how they make healthcare purchase and utilization decisions? So, if marketing is not talking to your patients about their experience, then what makes you think you can change it?

And here's another thought, marketing should be leading the effort instead of clinicians or department managers. The reason why many healthcare organizations are successful in patient experience is because, they talk to their patient directly, map the experience from beginning to end and their marketing departments take clear leading roles in the patient experience process.

It's not rocket science. But it demands organizational change and looking from the outside in from the patients perspective. And that only comes from marketing talking directly to them and mapping it out.

Really, even in Great Britain with a single payer system in the National Health Service, talks to their patients and maps the experience.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. 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. Like us on facebook at the michael J group.






Saturday, October 13, 2012

What happens when the patient experience falls apart?


True story. "Well, you can always bring her back to the hospital if she still has trouble breathing", said the home health care nurse from the hospital less than 2 hours after a patient had been discharged from the hospital. Oh, and did I tell you that her eye was infected, almost fell going to the bathroom in the hospital and informed the nurse, had slurred speech and could barley ambulate? Yes, that patient had been cleared by all to be discharged from the hospital.

Guess it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that she was back in the hospital via the ER at 3:30 A.M

And then the family hears an ad about all the wonderful quality care awards from third parties that they receive, and how many lives would be saved if everyone was as good as them.

What do you think the family thought?

The really sad part is that this healthcare experience is not atypical.

Countless times every day, the patient experience goes south in healthcare. Big things and small things alike that take place in the healthcare encounter all add up to one patient experience, good or bad.

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.

Here's a clue.

Experience management is about changing the way you interact with the individual or family from start to finish. Not just managing the experience at isolated points along the care continuum. It's not about just focusing on service recovery like something was wrong with a hotel stay. 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. It's also about providing the right care too.

So when the patient experience goes south, your reputation, your brand and your future in a risk or value-based payment environment goes south. And then there are those readmissions penalties you face when a patient like this comes back in less than 30 days.

You should see what's being said on facebook and in social media circles from others that chime about how bad their experience was at that particular hospital.

What is really sad, is that there has been no effort at any type of service recovery effort. No acknowledgement or even awareness of anything having gone wrong in the experience or being wrong at all.

Yep, the chuckle factor is really high when those quality award ads are heard.

Pay attention to the patient experience, and pay attention to the marketing. They are not separated, but closely related.

The healthcare consumer is paying close attention; especially when it's your mother that is the patient.

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. 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. Like us on facebook at the michael J group.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

How do you market to the networked patient?

Now that more healthcare information general and personal is available today than at any previous time, and healthcare reform is only going to accelerate the information exchange including outcomes transparency, how can you market and leverage in a comprehensive fashion, all that information and change?

What do you think the networked patient is saying about you in social media circles, after CMS announced the penalties for 2013 because of your high readmission rates and you greeted that with silence?

Welcome to the age of the networked patient.

The networked patient is someone who has an intense curiosity about their health condition, expects to have an active role in making healthcare decisions and this is most important, they want control of their health information.

They actively use the internet, social media , blogs, web site, apps and seek out others. They read and study about their health condition. They ask questions and will seek out alternatives. The look at providers from a quality standpoint and make judgments based on outcomes information. They want an answer to their own needs. The patient is asking what is their ROI by using you?

There are some key to keep in mind when starting to market to the networked patient:.

• Your brand, your brand promise and messaging is all important;

• Quality data transparency, reporting and patient access to that information is everything;

• Access to their own health information 24/7 is a deal breaker if not provided;

• Talk about the patient experience and outcomes;

• Don't insult this patient with messaging that is all fluff, about us or is just plain condescending;

• All communication needs to be personalized talking to the patient not at them;

• Use all available communication channels- Iphone apps,, email, social media, web site blue button, email, etc.

Be creative, this is uncharted territory so limits are nonexistent and don't place any on yourself. Stop saying, why we can't do something, start saying how we can. This is a major change in the way healthcare is administered and delivered in the U.S.

Providers need to recognizing that the age of the healthcare consumer is upon us.

I would to say thank you to my followers and readers of Healthcare Marketing Matters (HMM). HMM is now consistently over 5,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries. The heat map is from blogger stats and shows the countries where the majority of readers reside. I guess in the end, healthcare. healthcare marketing and the issues we all face are pretty much the same.




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. Follow us on facebook at the michael J group.