In Healthcare, Patient Experience Outweighs Price

Posted on January 23, 2013. Filed under: Communication, Patient Experience, Post By Christy Whipple |

ImageHealthcare is one of the ONLY industries where experience consistently trumps price. In fact, studies show that customer service (patient experience) is 2½ times more important to the healthcare consumer than in any other industry. This reality may be an eye-opener for some doctors, administrators and medical marketing executives:

Unlike every other industry studied, “price” is not the top consideration. In healthcare, patient experience is the primary driver in the purchase decision. For healthcare consumers, personal experience is the number one reason for choosing a doctor or hospital.

In a recent report by the Health Research Institute of PwC US, both healthcare consumer expectation and the healthcare delivery system are changing. According to the report, these changes in expectation are based on, “inspiration from other industries, competition, health reform, consumer demands and/or the bottom line.”

The PwC report (based on a survey of 6,000 consumers) observes that “agile [healthcare] companies are changing the way they get to know their customers, moving beyond basic transactions and embracing their patients and members as consumers and customers.

“In many respects consumer expectations in healthcare track closely with other industries. Convenience and speed are high on the list… Like the banking and travel industries before them, healthcare companies are recognizing that customer retention comes with repeatable, memorable experiences that match individuals’ wants and needs.”

What is the basis for these new demands? Most professionals believe that the Internet opened the information and communications floodgates, and consumers (patients) have become increasingly aware and empowered in their healthcare decisions.

Others believe that responsibility lies in the shift among healthcare consumers of more conservative spending decisions, as well as many families paying a larger share of costs in health expenses and insurance. The “consumerism” mindset is trending in the healthcare sector, and now more closely parallels the long-established service expectations that are typical in the retail world.

The patient-focus in healthcare—and managing the customer experience—is likely to continue or grow. As the various dynamics of healthcare reform continue to phase-in to the delivery system, over 20 million individual “shoppers” will enter the marketplace in the next five to six years.

According to the report, people are, “acting more like consumers and less like patients.” Adopting a stronger patient-centric approach will provide numerous benefits for the provider, the hospital or healthcare facility, and especially for the individual patient. A positive patient experience clearly improves patient compliance, adherence, quality of care, and ultimately leads to better outcomes.

Consistently delivering a positive patient experience and exceptional customer satisfaction is increasingly tied to revenue. Indirectly, satisfaction and loyalty also inspire patient and professional referrals.

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