Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Its Time To Lead And Not Just Talk About Patient Satisfaction

As healthcare leaders we all talk about the importance of a satisfied patient. In fact we have different names for the process such as Customer Service, Patient Satisfaction and a newer term, Patient Experience. Regardless of what we call it, it appears on most Board dashboards as a key metric to follow.

Recent data to come out of the 2009 HealthLeaders Media Patient Experience Survey showed that 1/3 of all top level executives listed patient experience as their top priority. 90% of them had it in the top five, and all of them agreed that it would be a priority for them in the next five years. This is good news, isn't it? Healthcare leaders recognize the key role that providing a positive patient experience plays. But as they say, talk is cheap.

When asked about how much of their current annual budget was spent on this priority, a much different answer emerged. About half said they spent less than $50,000, and 11% had no budget at all. Many insisted that they would like to do more but funding was not available. It was being used on higher priorities. More troubling were those that said there was no consensus on how to address this and no game plan in place. This is where leaders need to start leading.

When asked who in their hospital had primary responsibility for patient experience, about 20% said "everyone". Congratulations, you've been to Customer Service 101. But seriously there should be no question in any hospital about who needs to lead this process. It must start from the top and be an integral part of the the hospital's culture. The hospital's investment of fiscal resources in this process must be matched by an investment of time from the top leadership.

In a climate of shrinking reimbursement and increased competition from all angles it may look inviting to cut back on programs to increase patient satisfaction. Don't say, "Its a great thing but we just can't afford it right now". I say you can't afford not to. An investment in providing a more positive patient experience will pay big dividends in customer loyalty and growth in new business. We have seen it over and over with many hospitals that we work with.

Its time to do more than talk about improving the patient experience, its time to lead the process.

More on this later.

Mark Brodeur

1 comment:

  1. Good post, we BTW use for keeping a tab on patient feedback and to improve patient care. Works out well. Makes the staff also think twice about how they treat patients. Also, this is helping out to let go staff who are not doing a great job. What better way to document something than something that is provided to you by patients themselves. Plus, all staff wears a name tag just to make sure they know patients can see who the person is.

    Also, doctors are now reviewing these every month as well. They get positive and negative feedback about how patients feel about their treatment at the hospital.

    In the end only thing that matters is the patient care and preventative medicine.

    Keep up the good work. Great content!!!



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