February 8, 2012
In an era of increased competition and a more consumer-driven health care market, I sometimes ask service provider organization executive teams – if consumers have a choice, will they choose you? (See my recent briefing post by that title, If Consumers Have a Choice, Will They Choose You? all members).
This is more than a question of marketing, though the answer is critical to successful referral marketing. It is also a question of developing a role in an increasingly cost-conscious health and human service system. New research shows that the ability to engage consumers in the improvement of their health (as opposed to forcing them to be “compliant” with a health management routine) is the key to health improvement and cost reduction. This means that for most successful service provider organizations, their clinical and administrative staff need to do more than their “job.” They need to provide great customer service and engage the consumers they serve.
First a look at the customer service angle. In the service industries (of which we are one), as opposed to selling a product of some type, the consumer perspective of quality is all about a positive experience. We’ve written about this before (see Enhancing the Consumer Experience: The Increasing Importance of Health Care Providers’ Web Sites and When 53% of the Market Is Private, Consumer Marketing Matters all members). And, a significant part of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Medicare Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program is based on patient experience (see CMS Value-Based Purchasing to Reward Hospitals for Performance ). Some of its consumer-reported measures include:
Doctor and nurse communication (courtesy/respect, listening, and explaining)
Cleanliness and quietness of the hospital
Responsiveness of hospital staff
Pain management, pain control and help with pain
Communications about medications
A great primer on the power of patient engagement is the TEDTalks presentation It’s time to redesign medical data, by Thomas Goetz, the executive editor of Wired Magazine. He stresses the power of the will to change and the role of better presentation of health care data – and better health care communication – to achieve that end. And, it appears that as we move to an era of bundled rates and ACOs, the medical community has discovered the value of talking to consumers – and engaging them in decisions.
For a great layman’s view of this, check out the recent piece in The Wall Street Journal, Doctors Track Patients’ Mood, Social Life to Manage Illness (subscription required). The most telling statement in the piece, “Now, more doctors are inquiring about their patients’ pain, difficulty accomplishing everyday activities, embarrassment about a condition and other issues that physicians traditionally haven’t considered. The insights can help determine how aggressively to treat an illness and what alternative therapies to offer certain patients….”
As I consider the importance of customer satisfaction and consumer engagement in the future success of health and human service system, one thought comes to mind. Where do organizations find these highly-trained, customer-oriented, communication-savvy staff? And, when they find them and train them, how do they keep them? The battle for the best talent will intensify as the measures of “success” in the field change. Some team members who were great performers a decade ago will be mediocre performers in the new environment (without adequate continuing education and system reengineering). The answer to these questions cannot be that your organization can not afford great talent. Great talent is an investment and the most competitive organizations are those that have learned how to leverage that talent with the right combination of consumer services, payment models, and operating infrastructure. The bigger question is: “If great employees have a choice about where to work, will they choose you?”
Monica E. Oss
Chief Executive Officer, OPEN MINDS
P.S. For information on group discounts for the institute, call our customer service team tool free at 877-350-6463
For another free resource, see: Talent Management A Missing Link In System Transformation all members
This is free for the next sixty days to all registered OPEN MINDS Circle members.