It’s Hard to Be Easy: How to Deliver Great Patient Experience

Easy Delivers Great Patient ExperienceThe world of healthcare delivery continues to change—and the operational watchword is “easy.” This concept—a proven idea that practices can implement today—comes from the retail consumer world. Simply…when you make it easy for the customer, you differentiate yourself from the pack, and your results increase exponentially.

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.

The hard is what makes it great.”

A League of Their Own (1992) Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks)

The incredible importance power of being easy…

Consider, for example, the early introduction of consumer video cassette recorders. The first VCRs were programmable for unattended recordings and later playback. But a major stumbling block and barrier to that benefit for the typical consumer was that programming was confusing.

Even setting the clock was a major mystery. It became a running joke about being able to put a man on the moon, but VCR clocks were unchanged and constantly blinking twelve o’clock.

Manufacturers heard the (demanding) voice of the customer and premier consumer electronics gadgets became “easy.” The term “plug-and-play” was coined. The menu was simplified. The setup became simple.

In the retail world, the importance of “easy” has moved from an operating standard to a vital competitive ingredient. A primary result is that the customer is king. And when manufacturers moved from functional to easy, purchase barriers evaporated and leading brands rocketed past the competition.

It’s hard to be easy, but the return is worth the effort…

The standard for health care, healthcare delivery and the business of patient experience has long been entrenched in provider-centered systems. The operating model existed to—then and now—to make it easy for the doctor, the staff and the “patient flow.” The system was up-side-down.

But dramatic new patient expectations have been driving change. Successful practices have been hearing the consumer demands to keep it simple, convenient and easy for the patient. The learning curve and applications still lag the retail world. But the shift to a patient-centered practice continues with previously unthinkable changes.

Reducing friction…

Consider the challenges of marketing to Millennials. This is the nation’s largest population slice, they have the greatest buying power in the US, and have the highest (and perhaps toughest) service expectations. They want to find a patient-centered website and Internet-based conveniences that reduce buying friction and the barriers to a successful relationship.

This cohort is guided by online reviews, and they expect (demand) the convenience of fast and early access via online doctor appointments. In addition to a positive (make that outstanding) patient experience, this group in particular:

  • Is open to using telemedicine if/when available
  • Wants email and text communications for lab results, reminders
  • Expects flexible, evening/weekend/lunchtime office hours
  • Demands on-time doctors that respect their time
  • Prompt phone pickup and never “lost on-hold”
  • Same day or near-immediate appointments
  • The ability to pay bills online
  • Want to use their mobile apps for health interactions

The Internet, mobile applications and local connecting points are critical to making things easy, fast and convenient. And when the provider and practice have made it easy, the payoff is that they attract and retain the consumer-empowered patient.

And when it’s not easy for the patient—it becomes exceptionally easy for people to switch…they select another practice at the speed of an online click.

Yes, it’s not easy to be easy. In fact, it’s hard to achieve a major paradigm shift to a true, patient-centered practice. But, if it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. And the hard is what makes it great.

This is unique differentiation that makes convenience the new competitive currency. Successfully achieving this culture and mindset shift is difficult, but the results and the payoff are ten-fold greater. What’s more, compensation models are shifting to align with satisfaction scores.

You and your practice deliver a truly great patient experience that builds a reputation as the premier provider and wins more new business for the practice.

It’s hard, but it’s the easy that makes you great.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

About Stewart Gandolf, MBA

Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is both the Publisher of PatientExperience.com and the Co-Founder of Healthcare Success. Stewart has written for dozens of leading healthcare publications and spoken at hundreds of venues on a variety of topics including marketing, reputation management and patient experience. Additionally, he has personally consulted for over 1,500 hospitals and practices. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Stewart worked for leading advertising agencies including J. Walter Thompson.

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