Archives for October 2013

Patient Outcomes vs Experiences in Healthcare

imagesI had been thinking about this topic for some time when just as I sat down to start writing, this article hit my news stream.  In summary, IDC Health Insights surveyed healthcare providers and payers and found a significant disparity in the focus on and investment in big data analytics, with payers investing disproportionately more.

And this is good.  There continues to be huge upside potential to impact patient outcomes by analyzing patient and provider data when in comes to patient behaviors and provider treatment decisions.

Is this it though?  Are outcomes the only issue at hand here?  Clearly big data can provide patients the information they need to make better lifestyle choices, should, as the IDC article points out, they choose to take advantage of that information and put it into practice.  And, payers have a wealth of data at their disposal to better influence those patient behaviors and to make recommendations to providers on improved delivery to better outcomes once patients enter the healthcare system.  Don’t get me wrong.  Improving patient outcomes certainly has a positive impact on patient experience.  If I’m made well faster, with less pain and without the need for repeat treatment or readmission, I’m certainly inclined to look at that as a positive customer experience.

But there is another opportunity to leverage big data in the healthcare industry.  This guest post here recently got me thinking about the focus payers and providers are giving to patient experiences, both prior to entering the healthcare system as shoppers and once they enter the system for care.  Subsequently, I did find an absolutely delightful experience with my kids’ dentist who clearly understand the customer experience side of healthcare.  But, this seems to be the exception.

Payers and providers continue to spend big marketing dollars to promote their offers and attract new patient (lets call them customers, shall we? ).  There seems to be a critical gap in the level of energy spent on customer retention.  In general, waiting rooms are still packed.  Appointment times are a best guess.  Facilities are sterile and clinical.  And, while I’ve not been a medical student, I’m not sure if I’d be able to find course work focused on customer service in most curricula.

So, the data is all there resident in clinical records, patient files and claims data.  And, I think there is a tremendous business opportunity to be seized in commercializing this data to improve customer experiences.

Unless of course you know of somebody already on top of this, let me know.  Or, if you think  outcomes are sufficient to satisfy patients’ (customers) demands and the healthcare system has bigger fish to fry than worrying about appointment wait times, let me have it.

Brushing Up On Customer Experience

imgresSince the last post went up here exploring some of the opportunities healthcare providers have to think more about the customer experience, I’ve had my eyes wide open for some examples of healthcare practitioners that get it.  And, presto!  I found one!

I took my kids to the dentist last week.  This was the first time I had been available to take them on their semi-annual visit.  And there I found a customer experience wonderland.  This dentist, who’s practice is dedicated to kids, has created an environment where no detail has been overlooked.  And every little detail is designed towards a very targeted customer base.

It’s clear that this healthcare professional started with a deep understanding of who she intended to serve.  And, as any parent could attest, this shouldn’t have been a terribly hard process.  There are a few foundational things about kids we all know to be true.  One.  Not too many kids have life-size Fatheads of their dentists on their bedroom walls.  So, getting a young one to the dentist’s office, and then once there, having them not run out the door as soon as they sit down in the chair, requires some creativity. Two.  Nobody, young or old, likes to wait in a doctor’s waiting room.  Nor, do any of us like to sit in that chair any longer than we have to.  And, what ever can be done to distract us from what’s happening in that chair is a blessing.

This dentist understands she exists because of her patients.  She is here to serve her patients.  And her patients’ parents have choices.  I’m also guessing that she didn’t figure all this out, and design such an amazing office experience on her own.  This business clearly has the finger prints of a collaboration with other really smart folks.  But, the dentist, the HCP, had the vision and recognition that, in the end, healthcare delivery is about as personal and emotional a business as there is.

If a store that sells stuffed animals has been able to reinvent retail by taking the time and effort to design a warm emotional and personalized experience, while outperforming its rivals financially, don’t you think we should expect at least that from those with whom we trust our lives?