Healthcare Reform and the Patient-Centric Culture of the Future

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As the healthcare landscape begins to transform with the Affordable Care Act, so must healthcare providers’ approach to customer service.

Payors and providers can no longer focus solely on B2B relationships with employers and organizations. Hospitals, in particular, will find the need to rebuild their culture around the patient experience as they learn how to speak the language of marketing and sales to create the high-touch B2C patient experience of tomorrow.

For outstanding leaders in the retail realm, such as Zappos or Starbucks, customer centricity has become the cornerstone for success. Because they interact with consumers directly each day, they’ve learned how to satisfy and delight their customers by listening to feedback and incorporating such sentiment as they work to improve their strategies. Now, as healthcare payers and providers enter this one-to-one landscape with very little experience to pave their path, such lessons from retailers may offer some guidance as they build an outside-in culture that sparks patient satisfaction and engagement. Gone are the days when satisfaction surveys were sufficient. Instead, today’s healthcare institutions must focus on the urgent need to engage and please patients across all touchpoints and throughout every step of the care process.

Hospitals will need to think of themselves as marketers as they figure out how to capture and analyze patient satisfaction, create meaningful content, and generate word of mouth. They must collect data, gather patient experience feedback, conduct surveys, develop case studies, and measure results just as any other organization would. They must understand their own successes and dissect their failures in order to consistently enhance their offerings and boost satisfaction. Face-to-face communication will also be a particularly effective asset, as direct interactions typically drive decision-making.

Cleveland Clinic’s Concentration on Caregiving

Though most hospitals remain in the early stages of revamping their patient approach, Cleveland Clinic has built its brand around the patient-centric culture it cultivated. This leading institution, which has always been respected for its clinical outcomes, has earned newfound respect for its service by continuously putting patients first. Much of this success also stems from the clinic’s emphasis on creating and maintaining an engaged workforce. From doctors to cafeteria workers, all employees are referred to as “caregivers” on their nametags, underlining Cleveland Clinic’s focus of patient-centric culture and experience. These caregivers always understand what’s expected of them, have the resources they need, and are recognized for their performance, making each employee feel that their work has meaning.

Caregivers’ belief in the organization’s mission not only gets people talking, but encourages patients to return for future care. Cleveland Clinic leads the way by setting an example for other institutions looking to provide both excellent patient care and effective communication. By keeping patients informed and familiar with processes and caregivers, hospitals and healthcare organizations will continue to facilitate meaningful conversations that keep the pathways for communication open and honest. Hospitals will need to develop methods for effectively communicating about patient-centric care, capture patient input, and use these insights to retain current patients and attract new ones. Putting the focus on relationships, not advertising, will truly lay the groundwork for trust, transparency, and loyalty as the healthcare industry continues to implement its patient-centric culture of the future.