The Patient Experience Drives Referral Volumes: So Why Aren’t Patients #1?

A recent study published by the Healthcare Leaders Media Intelligence Unit reports that 79% of healthcare leaders agree that patient experiences directly impact the bottom line, while 20% somewhat agree with that statement. While 93% of leaders say improving the patient experience is on their top priority list, most leaders say their biggest challenge in actually affecting a change in their organization is that “higher priorities” distract their focus.

A higher priority than the patient? Afterall, isn’t it the patient that drives healthcare? Or, at least, it SHOULD be the patient that is at the center of all decisions made my senior level executives. While running a successful organization certainly is a balancing act, time and time again we see leaders focusing on other areas of revenue generation before looking at the very thing they are there to serve, the patient. Let’s face it, healthcare is not an industry known for customer service and outstanding experiences; frankly, the bar is set pretty low. An office or a hospital does not have to be very creative to provide a patient with a positive experience that will stand out in their mind and differentiate them from their competitors. So, why is it so hard to change the focus of an organization and thus change their attitude? It’s a leadership issue; the mindset of the leaders directing the organization must change from one “we cannot focus on the patient experience right now, there are more pressing issues” to “there is nothing more important than our patients”.

The good news: While many organizations aren’t placing the patient as the top priority, we are seeing this patient-centric attitude in the leadership of the clients we work with who understand that it’s time for a change in the healthcare landscape and they are the innovators to do so. And, in these successful healthcare organizations across the country who are putting their patients first on the priority list, not letting any other issue distract or become more of a priority, they are receiving high scores in patient satisfaction, seeing an uptick in their referral volumes and capturing more marketshare everyday.

Food for thought as you begin to think about your strategic plan for growth in 2011. Will you truly focus on your patients this year or will other pressing issues distract you?

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