Patient Experience Matters More Now Than Ever

Janice Frates, PhD

Dr. Janice Frates reports on findings from a recent PwC report on healthcare consumerism and the implications for healthcare providers.

When consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) conducted a national survey of over 6,000 US consumers in major industry sectors in the summer of 2012, they found several key differences between consumers’ attitudes and experiences in healthcare and other industries.  These findings indicate that healthcare organizations have to work both smarter and harder to earn patient loyalty.

Perhaps the most notable finding for medical practices, hospitals and marketing professionals is that in healthcare, customer service (what our industry calls the patient experience) is more than two times as important than in any other industry. [See PwC Report: Patient Experience – Part 1, here.]

The PwC report (available here) declares this to be a “moment of truth,” and examines how providers are (or should be) engaging in new thinking about how they get to know their customers, “moving beyond basic transactions and embracing their patients and members as consumers and customers.”

In addition to the fact that personal experience is the number one reason for choosing a doctor or hospital, the findings tell us that provider staff attitude is a defining factor for 70 percent of patients, compared to 38 percent of retail shoppers and 33 percent of banking and hospitality industry customers. (Emphasis added.)

More findings of interest…

  • Patients are less likely to share positive experiences with healthcare organizations: While 70 percent of retail and 60 percent of banking customers will share a positive experience within a month, just 54 percent of patients will talk to someone else about their healthcare provider and 44 percent about their health insurance company.
  • Patients were more affected by a negative experience with a healthcare provider or insurer.  While 88 percent of consumers will return to a retailer that apologizes to them, just 60 percent of provider patients and 66 percent of health insurance enrollees expressed this attitude.

Retail industries have recognized the importance of quickly capturing customer feedback through such techniques as offering discount coupons on future purchases to customers who take brief online surveys and encouraging customers to post comments on social media sites like Facebook.  Increasingly, healthcare organizations are also using social media and online communities to get closer to their customers and obtain timely feedback on their services.

As patients and payers demand more value from healthcare organizations, ensuring a positive patient experience will become an ever more critical healthcare success strategy.

Beginning in October 2012, Medicare will use patient satisfaction scores to determine 30 percent of the incentive payments to hospitals for value-based purchasing. Many health plans already incorporate patient satisfaction ratings into their evaluations, rating listings, and pay-for-performance formulas for providers.

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AUTHOR Janice Frates, PhD, is a professor of Health Care Administration at California State University Long Beach and a healthcare consultant:


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  1. PwC Finds Patient Experience is the Number One Factor for Choosing a Doctor or Hospital | - October 22, 2012

    […] Additional findings and healthcare marketing discussion from the Health Research Institute of PwC US report, Customer experience in health care: The moment of truth, are presented in this additional article [Part 2] by Dr. Janice Frates. […]

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