From Accenture’s online journal Outlook is this article From Patient To Customer: Improving The Patient Experience. It’s written by Anil Swami, Accenture’s global lead for Consumer Experience Management/Service Strategy domains.
His premise is that the customer service bar keeps being raised due to the improving service quality offered by other kinds of companies with whom patients interact. Companies that readily come to mind, for me, include online retailers Zappos and Amazon, physical retailers Apple and Best Buy, service providers Geek Squad and American Express. Given these experiences, our expectations are raised as we make cross-sector comparisons.
Within this context, hospitals will have to move beyond their traditional sphere of merely providing medical care. They must put in place the operations and processes to satisfy patients through differentiated experiences that engender greater loyalty. The key, according to Anil, is to “approach patients as customers and to design the end-to-end patient experience accordingly. This fosters longer-term relationships and enhances the provider’s overall brand value.”
The benefits of this approach are evident in a recent pilot by a prominent US academic medical center. Initiatives focused only on improving clinical procedures weren’t enough to keep patients satisfied, or to lure them away from other regional hospitals. But innovations designed to improve the patient experience showed positive results (abbreviated here):
• making information more consistent (through self-service portals)
• providing access options (to different demographic groups for receiving communications and accessing information)
• creating effective communications and education (through web-based multimedia education programs)
• offering personalized service (through different kinds of hospitality services)
Many hospitals (given the economic and political climate) have been focused on improving efficiency and reducing costs. But the author’s conclusion is that to be effective and successful in the future, hospitals need to deliver memorable service experiences in addition to offering world-class clinical care.
Makes sense. Are these healthcare brands really any different from the myriad providers across other industries who use customer service as a way to distinguish their organizations and create wow experiences for their customers.