How do international hospitals successfully cater to the patient population? Surely it is essential to promote that your hospital has the best-trained medical staff, a safe track record of procedures, and an attractive pricing model, but this is just the beginning.
Hospitals must also deliver an exceptional patient experience in order to have meaningful success in servicing the patient base. Ultimately your hospital may offer the utmost in health care and still fall short in overall evaluation by the patient.
In most cases the experience may have been lacking in some of the ancillary offerings, perhaps seemingly simple comfort and convenience offerings that have been overlooked or considered low on the priority scale by certain hospitals.
Of the eight (8) components that comprise the total patient experience (Thinking, Considering, Research, Decision, Assembling, Purchase, Experience and After Glow), only one (Experience) is dominated by the actual medical procedure and/or treatment that the patient is undergoing. The patient owns all eight components and all eight contribute to the overall patient experience.
By overlooking certain opportunities to improve on the patient experience hospitals are missing the chance to set themselves apart from the competition and attract patients. What opportunities are you missing with your patients? What revenue is passing you by?
Yes, revenue; because improving on the patient experience by providing certain offerings could also create added revenue streams. How complete and successful is the patient experience at your facility?
First, we are going to explore the emerging trend and popularity of defined consumer experiences in the market. We will look at both the general consumer marketplace as well as examples in the healthcare industry. It isn’t enough for consumer businesses such as retail stores and service providers to simply market their products and offer them at convenient locations.
Cutting edge companies are developing consumer experiences that deliver their offerings in comfortable, intuitive, and focused environments. This accomplishes key objectives for successful retailers.
Customers increase the time in the retailer’s space, increase their purchases, make repeat visits and give positive referrals. Three key consumer responses need to be minimized as much as possible: stress, confusion, and product/service irrelevance. They are detrimental to the success of your offerings.
What is it that the consumer marketplace tells us about the healthcare industry? The more stress that is alleviated from consumer decision-making related to their healthcare, the more parallels develop in how the consumer makes decisions in retail and the overall consumer marketplace. The patient experience is important for attracting and retaining the patient base.
Hospitals need to think outside the box about how they offer their services, experiences, and overall patient care. It is critical that every touchpoint that a patient experiences while in your care is positive and that it has the distinct impression that it is catered to them. This is very important to the patient base at large.
The journey from home to the overseas healthcare provider, and back to home, is a daunting and potentially stressful endeavor for the patient. Sometimes this is a deal-breaker to the potential patient who cannot fathom that this journey could possibly happen. For example, in some cases patients have never ventured beyond neighboring states, let alone gone across the world for treatment.
The procedural/treatment experience and the non-procedural experience (hospitality and comfort) must be evaluated as a complete patient experience that is exceptional at every touchpoint. Hospitals must sell the patient on the complete experience.
An international consumer electronic retailer recently experimented with a store environment that focused entirely on the woman shopper experience vs. the traditional male electronics shopper. The environment featured colors, textures, scents, graphics, fixtures, signage, and ultimately products that all catered to the female shopper.
The result was a 39% increase in sales for the products and services offered in this experience-based selling environment. Surprisingly the sales not only came from women. The results also found that women affect over 80% of the purchasing decisions that men make.
Therefore if you markedly improve the experience of a patient during their stay, you will likely see this affect the greater scope of your medical tourism business.
Always be aware of who is making the decision to use your services; in the case of a patient, the spouse and family members are equally if not more important in deciding on an overseas hospital for their loved one. They are looking for successful operations, safety, comfort; they are looking to minimize stress, confusion, and product/service irrelevance.
They are looking for success in the overall patient experience, which is relevant to the entire family unit and support structure. Neighbors, colleagues at work, friends and associates of the patient are also interested in the well being of the patient, and could potentially be customers sometime in the future; again all depending on the overall patient experience.
Word of mouth referral is huge in the patient base. In the Deloitte report, Medical Tourism – Consumers in Search of Value, word-of-mouth marketing is highlighted as one of the three sources of information that a potential patient accesses during the pre-procedure phases.
Another example of the impact patient experiences can have in the medical industry is demonstrated by leading healthcare providers in the US. Throughout the US, healthcare organizations are realizing the importance of a complete patient’s care experience. Traditional patient care focused solely on medical treatment and all ancillary products and services were provided by a myriad of outside sources.
This traditional approach is very difficult to manage successfully and the gaps into which a patient’s experience could be adversely affected are numerous. Today healthcare providers recognize the importance of developing long-term and profitable patient relationships.
To accomplish this they are providing a portfolio of products, services, and resources that are all offered WITHIN their organization. This offering helps to complete the patient experience and deliver all the elements that are so vital to the overall success of the organization.
These are just two industries that have discovered and implemented the solution for capturing, retaining, and profiting from a satisfied consumer/patient. This is creating substantial returns for those organizations that embrace the concept.
Is your hospital focused on the patient experience? Is your hospital getting repeat visits, stellar referrals, and consistent growth? If you are not sure then you need to find out now.
The path to exceptional patient experiences:
1. Be honest about what you are providing your patients. Do you know what the patient is looking for? What are the strengths of your hospital in its offerings to your targeted patient base? Is there room for improvement? Do you understand all of the opportunities that are available today? Do you have long term plans that provide sustainable growth and market dominance?
2. Get unbiased analysis from a professional evaluation firm. If you are not sure how your organization is positioned for delivering a world-class patient experience, then find out. A professional evaluation firm can evaluate how your medical tourism organization is positioned in the industry and provide the path to maximize your opportunities.
3. Develop a “patient experience action plan”. Develop a custom plan to explore and implement a world-class patient experience for your organization. The evaluation and patient experience firm can develop the custom plan and recommend a process to get it done.
4. Implement the plan. When you have a plan that capitalizes on your strengths and addresses all of your opportunities, then implement it.
5. Sustain and Improve. Continue to get unbiased feedback from a professional evaluation firm and plan for regular updates to your patient experience action plan. Refresh critical touchpoints so new and returning patients can continue to benefit from the world-class organization you have created.
Why is it so critical to provide a world-class patient experience? If you don’t offer the experience then your competition will. A world-class patient experience allows you to fully capture new business, maximize profits, differentiate from competition, and maintain relevance with the patient population.
Ultimately patients will choose a facility that offers safety, comfort, and a complete experience that fulfills their needs and desires. Investing in all aspects of your patients’ experience will establish your medical organization as a leader in the industry and most importantly, in the opinion of your patients.
Josh Hanson is the principal of Touchoint. Touchpoint has evaluated, designed, and built complete consumer experiences throughout the United States for organizations including Kettering Health Network, Bellin Health, Aurora Health Care, Avera McKennan Hospital, Park Nicollet, BayHealth and many more.
Touchpoint is also actively working on consumer experience spaces for international organizations in Izmir Turkey, Shanghai China, London England, and numerous cities in Latin America. Touchpoint’s founders have over 60 years of combined experience in evaluating, designing, and developing consumer experiences and environments.
Touchpoint provides objective patient experience evaluations for the Medical Tourism industry. They are a leader and expert in this field with unmatched knowledge and experience with US healthcare providers and international consumer corporations.
OneWorld Global Healthcare Solutions has formed an alliance with Touchpoint to bring you the full spectrum of consulting and patient experience services. Visit OneWorld’s website (www.oneworldglobalhealthcaresolutions.com) for more information