2017: The Year of Great Expectations
We’re well into a new year and with it healthcare organizations are actively addressing their expectations about growth and change.
Yet there’s one vital set of expectations that also deserves special consideration—the expectations consumers have when they engage in healthcare environments.
Today’s healthcare organizations recognize that creating a consumer-focused experience is becoming an increasingly important strategy for competing successfully in the marketplace. But identifying what that experience should be is challenging.
For example, in a HealthLeaders Media survey, 84% of healthcare leaders ranked the patient experience among their top three priorities, however a majority of those same leaders (73%) had difficulty actually defining the patient experience.
What exactly does today’s consumer expect from the patient experience? The best answer is: the same things they expect when engaging with other service providers.
Meet Patient Expectations…Like a Retailer
Whether it’s a hospital stay or an urgent care visit, patient expectations are no longer contained within our industry. In many respects, those expectations track closely with other industries, and they draw on retail experiences by comparison.
In other words, retail experiences drive their healthcare expectations and those expectations are much like those they carry from many other service providers elsewhere—airports, banking, coffee shops, hairstylists, etc.
Patients want the same intuitive user experience and contemporary comfort they get at a technology store; the same speed and reliability they get from shopping online; the same welcome sense of community and personalization they get from their local coffee shop.
They also want those experiences to be great emotionally. They want to feel positive about their experiences when they leave, telling friends and co-workers.
By providing all the elements that lead to an emotionally positive experience, the healthcare environment can contribute greatly to meeting today’s patient expectations for:
- Finding the right office or location without getting lost.
- Feeling comfortable while waiting, either in waiting areas, lounges, or exam rooms.
- Enjoying views of nature and taking in natural light.
- Accessing services easily and completing all transactions within one space.
- Engaging with staff.
- Valuing cleanliness and privacy.
- Having dining and café access.
- Charging personal devices and accessing free wifi.
That final bullet matters more than you may first think. That’s because today’s patient expectations are also being propelled by technology, and by age. Millennials have very different expectations than the Boomer generation, and digital technology is one of them. In fact, there have been examples of younger patients giving healthcare organizations bad satisfaction scores simply because there was no good wifi. This is the reality of today’s consumer expectations for positive patient experiences!
With patient satisfaction scores and reimbursements driving the healthcare economy, recognizing these realities and targeting the expectations of today’s healthcare consumer is key to creating a positive patient experience. Addressing environments is one crucial way to define and align the experience with expectations.