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“Customer Experience is not just about

passion. It is about profitable results.”

~Lior Arussy

Are the Hippocratic Oath and Customer Experience Mutually Exclusive?

Posted: Dec 22, 2014 by Brianne Spinelli

 In recent years, receiving a patient experience survey to fill out along with discharge information has become an increasingly common practice. Sure, we’ve all experienced customer experience surveys that come along with most shopping trips, but a survey regarding your experience as a patient?

The scores from these surveys, known as HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems), provide hospitals with valuable information about the patient experience. Not only do these scores give the institution valuable information for maintaining satisfied customers (a hospital is, after all, a business whose patients are its customers), but, according to the December 2014 article “Ratcheting Up Patient Experience Has a Downside” by Lena J. Weiner, “The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Value-Based Purchasing Program currently ties 1.25% of reimbursement to patient satisfaction and this will rise to 2% by 2017.”

Over the last 10 years, the healthcare industry has seen a push in patient satisfaction and overall patient experiences. In order to achieve and maintain good scores, many healthcare providers are going so far as to implement Patient Experience Officers, often people with backgrounds in hospitality as opposed to the healthcare realm.

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Though, not everyone endorses this initiative.

According to Weiner’s article, some view emphasis on patient satisfaction as “a confusion of organizational priorities.” The concern is that safety will take a backseat to the hospital’s finances and quality.

Lior Arussy, President of Strativity Group, sees things differently. In fact, he finds that the examples provided by Weiner missed the mark on what patient experience is even about.

“Patient experience does not and should never mean suspension of medical judgment, reduced quality, lower safety or financial irresponsibility. Doing so will be either pure ignorance or distortion of the patient experience purpose,” he notes.

Lior goes on to explain, “Patient experience is about the HOW we treat patients and HOW we communicate with them.  It is about emotionally engaging with patients to guide them through their difficult times.”

It has become necessary for healthcare providers to adapt to an evolving patient-base. Patients’ expectations have changed. They have come to feel empowered by availability of readily and easily accessibly technology. They can “diagnose” themselves via the internet or “see a doctor” without actually having to visit the doctor’s office thanks to mobile advancements. They want to engage in a dialogue regarding their health with their providers as opposed to simply being told.

In other words, in an effort to remain relevant to patients, healthcare providers must redefine the experience.  “Create relevance in a new environment where the patient is knowledgeable,” as Lior puts it.

Sure, patients may be wrong in their self-assessments, and healthcare providers may not be able to give them the answers they want to hear, but, as Lior points out, “Patient experience should not mean succumbing to every whim. What such situations present is an opportunity to examine the way we communicate with patients.”

Open and effective communication with patients is key in sustaining high levels of patient satisfaction. Those in the healthcare field have a responsibility to provide the best medical care possible, but they also have an obligation to patients to ensure that their general experience is as pleasant as possible.

“Patients will take an authentic caring smile every day over a fancy amenity,” Lior says. Yet, it is just as important to remain true to the Hippocratic Oath. Furthermore, Lior notes, “We advise our clients every day, if it does not make financial and common sense, don’t do it.  Send your customers elsewhere.”

 

Learn more about engaging every customer:

Delighting the Universal Customer – Why Customer Experience Applies to Everyone

10 Steps to Customer Feedback and Dialogue Excellence – Are You Looking at the Past, or the Future?