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.


  1. Amber Thompson says:

    I completely agree with your perspective. While outcomes are vital for improving chronic disease treatments, for service development, and for research, we have to stop treating patients and their families as willing participants in their experience. Let’s face it; no one wakes up and says ” I’d like to have diabetes today” ….and change my entire way of living, go to fragmented doctors and repeat the same information to twelve people, and then fight with my insurance company. It seems like customer service and service leadership are not top of mind in the industry, but this industry accounts for eighteen percent of GDP- think about that. Gross domestic product consumption with no regard for how the consumer feels, what they want, or how they want it. It’s time for an overhaul of the way we look at patients…they are customers and they have increasing choices about how and whom delivers their services.

    • “no one wakes up and says ” I’d like to have diabetes today” ….and change my entire way of living, go to fragmented doctors and repeat the same information to twelve people, and then fight with my insurance company.” That is a brilliantly simple way to say it, Amber. I was actually having this conversation the other day after I had been sitting in an exam room 80 minutes, 70 minutes past my scheduled appointment time, waiting for the doctor. Is choice ( or lack of) really at the root of the lack of customer-focus?

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