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On the Road to Excellence, the Experience Drives Everything


Written by Anthony Cirillo

Health care providers are obsessed with the patient / resident experience. As well they should be. However, providing a great experience is more than making hospital patients or assisted living residents happy. It goes far beyond that. The experience impacts all levels of the health care organization.

The Experience is the Marketing

Amazing people work in health care. How you show up matters. It impacts your personal brand, which in turn impacts the organizational brand. Studies have shown there is a 30 percent variance in profitability based on patient/resident perceptions of care. You see, how you care impacts how people talk about you. The new marketing is word of mouth and it is directly related to the experience of care people have with a health provider. Another way to look at it is this. Andy Sernovitz, author of Word of Mouth (WOM) Marketing says: “ WOM isn’t actually marketing at all. It’s great customer service that earns customer respect.” Not all experiences convey the same value. People gladly pay more for a better experience.

The Experience Impacts Safety and Quality

In a review of 55 studies, Massachusetts General Hospital found a direct connection between better experiences and clinical quality and safety. That should not be surprising. A lot of the health care experience comes down to how well you know the person you are caring for and how well you listen. Care improves when you are on top of these.

Backroom Operations Impact the Experience of Care

There was an expose in my local newspaper a few years back about hospitals suing patients. In fact, the numbers were staggering. North Carolina hospitals were suing 40,000 patients a year. If you are a patient or a family caregiver (skip the debate on one’s ability and willingness to pay) and you face the burden of payments compounded by legal action, well, that impacts your stress level and your health. It also impacts your satisfaction with the health provider. An organization called Connance published a white paper that found that patients who are satisfied with the billing process are five times more likely to recommend a hospital. Yet they found that satisfaction only occurs 21 percent of the time. And over time, a patient’s overall satisfaction with the health provider can drop. So even if you were generally satisfied at discharge, the after care experience may leave a sour taste in your mouth and cause you to rethink where you might go in the future for care.

The Input of Family Caregivers Impacts Quality, Safety and Experience

There is a direct connection between family caregiver input into care and safety and quality. Yet only one in three physicians ask for family caregiver input. A University of Pittsburgh Health Policy Institute study showed that when you integrate the family caregiver into discharge planning there is a 25 percent decrease in 90 day readmissions, a big metric for U.S. hospitals.

There are all kinds of pressures to make the experience of care the best it can be. And there are all kinds of reasons why health providers fail at it. Here is what you need to know. Providers that have a culture focused on experience management perform better. Employees are focused on the experience and understand not just their job role but the ultimate responsibility they have to patients and the community. When you start looking at the epidemic of dementia for example, you soon realize that a lot of our medical issues are more than that. They are societal issues. Providers that understand the whole, holistic picture provide better care, have better reputations and are more integrated in the community than their counterparts.

Want to know more? Anthony Cirillo, FACHE helped launch the patient experience movement through his seminal article “The Chief Experience Officer,” which helped propel the Cleveland Clinic to start the first office of patient experience in the world. He speaks internationally around experience management, health care marketing and is an expert in aging care. 

One comment for “On the Road to Excellence, the Experience Drives Everything”

  1. Anthony, What good information, stats and studies were especially interesting. As always, thank you for sharing your information. Evi

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