HealthWare Systems Blog

Hospitals with ‘Superior’ Customer Experience Achieve 50% Higher Net Margins [Survey]

Posted on Mon, Jun 06, 2016

Cost Cutting Measures Don’t Pay in Comparison to Increased Revenues from Happy Patients

We have entered the era of patient-as-consumer, who shops around for the best price and value for their medical services, and the associated Hospital Consumer Assessment of Health Providers and Systems (HCAHPS). Facing these growing market factors, many healthcare organizations are trying to figure out how to maximize their patient experience. However, faced with constantly increasing costs and tight budgets, the question is how much to spend on these initiatives and what the ROI looks like.Fortunately, a study was recently released that provides more concrete data to answer these questions. And it’s a surprisingly powerful argument for the importance – actually, the necessity – for prioritizing the customer experience in healthcare.

“U.S. hospitals that deliver ‘superior’ customer experience achieve net margins that are 50 percent higher, on average, than those of hospitals providing ‘average’ customer experience.” 

This finding (from the study just released by Accenture Consulting) supports the idea that improving the patient experience is significantly more valuable for hospitals’ bottom lines than cost cutting measures. Based on six years of hospital income margin data combined with customer experience surveys, the report found that hospitals with high HCAHPS scores are growing at an above-average rate, with revenue growth exceeding operating expenses in those hospitals.

So if these findings are taken as representative of a forward-looking industry trend, we can summarize like this: Cost-cutting measures don’t pay. Making people happy (and healthier) does.

Of equal importance, the survey noted that this finding is true across hospitals of every size and type — “For-profits, non-profits, academic, non-academic, urban, rural, stand-alone hospitals and those that are part of a major health system” — and that the “correlation is historical and growing in importance over time.”

Two Key Strategies to Further Improve the Patient Experience

Many hospitals have been working on creating a successful patient experience for some time. While there is no “one size fits all” solution to deliver a superior customer experience, there are two key strategies that apply to any facility seeking to build on its existing customer experience programs.

Establish an Environment That is Caring & Attentive

Patients and their families are often at one of their lowest, most vulnerable points when in the care of a hospital or medical center. While emotions and sensitivity are running high, it’s easy to get upset over small errors or delays. However, patients who feel that the medical and support staff care about them personally are more likely to be understanding of small inconveniences and frustrations. Creating this environment of caring and personal attention establishes trust and comfort between the patient and the hospital staff.

Creating a caring environment needs to be consistent from the top to the very bottom. Hospital staff should feel that their employer cares about them as well. The key to achieving this is to know and understand your patients and staff. Identify what matters to them, and what they will appreciate. This can be done via surveys as well as patient information and tracking data.

Whether patients appreciate easy access to drinking water, more accurate estimates of nurse response times, or more daylight in the waiting and patient rooms, there will be specific interests that are most important to your facility’s patients and those are the items to address. Similarly, staff may need more accurate predictive staffing and scheduling to minimize surges and overcrowding, access to healthier snacks, or more comfortable flooring on which to stand all day.

When a hospital can truly understand their patients and staff, then it can respond and create a caring and attentive environment.

Walk in Your Patients’ Shoes (See Your Facility from Their Perspective)

Have you ever watched “Undercover Boss”? The owner or CEO of a company goes undercover as a temporary or new employee to experience working at the company from a different perspective. The lessons are usually eye-opening.

To get a fresh perspective on your facility’s patient experience, spend a day once a year walking in your patients’ shoes. Park in the patient parking lot and watch how the other drivers find a space. (Does it take a long time? Is it crowded or difficult to navigate?) Walk to the main door, go through the registration process, and watch other people navigating their way to appointments. Is the wayfinding signage truly easy to interpret?

Delays and frustrations can result from a single missing or illegible sign, or outdated parking configurations. You may never identify these kinds of operational missteps from your own office.

Patient tracking software like ActiveTrack can provide personalized wayfinding maps to patients who check-in at a kiosk or greeter station; route patients to registrars with the skills to handle their individual needs (i.e. language preferences or financial consulting); and can notify clinical staff of patient arrivals and registration status by text, page or email, and can be used as a communication tool between registration and clinical departments. 

ActiveTRACK captures real-time registration metrics during the patient tracking process, and enables management to monitor multiple areas across a single or multi-facility campus from a central location.It also measures patient registration and clinical wait times, registration times, and clinical throughput times to give management the information they need to improve efficiency, reduce patient wait times, and improve patient satisfaction. 

Learn more about how ActiveTrack is helping hospitals nationwide improve their customer experience ratings.