I recently read a wonderful article by Lawrence A. Crosby in Marketingpower.com entitled, “Healthy Relationships.”
This comes on the heels of a bad experience with our local hospital and general practitioner.
The gist of Mr. Crosby’s article is that we need to think about relationship management when it comes to solving the healthcare crisis.
He cites Ben Sasse, U.S. assistant secretary of health and human services from 2007 to 2009 who declares, “U.S. healthcare is an ‘embarrassment’ with 68 percent of medical expenditures for 23 percent of the population who have one or more chronic conditions.”
Contrary to popular perception, the U.S. is far from having the best system of healthcare in the world based on studies examining life expectancy, mortality, 5-year survival rates and error rates. Also, the U.S. spends twice as much per person on healthcare as its peers.
Patient perceived quality is highly influenced by the level of service rendered. However, this metric is discounted by healthcare professionals who do not believe patients are capable of judging the technical quality of the care they receive. This is a major disconnect and one which the medical establishment needs to rectify.
Attention doctors, patients are your customers.
The Journal of the American Medical Association has shown interactions with patients and their families – properties of care that qualify as “service” – have very strong effects on clinical outcomes. Gains in service quality improve outcomes with respect to chronic conditions.
We know perceived quality drives customer loyalty and engagement.
Satisfied customers come back, provide referrals, learn the customer role, accept advice and adopt new offerings.
These are the same behaviors we want from chronically ill patients – return for follow-up visits, take their medicines as prescribed, follow preventive care regimens and participate in trials.
A Patient Relationship Management (PRM) system would facilitate all of these things, improve health outcomes, reduce costs and enhance service performance.
Someone like Allscripts or Cerner could certainly develop a PRM system. However, their clients, physicians' offices and hospitals, have to see the need and be willing to make the commitment and investment required to improve patient satisfaction.
As we know from our call to the general practitioner, initial service interactions are the foundation of relationships. Positive interactions foster trust. Trust creates relationships. Relationships create a sense of community.
Based on my recent experience, I don’t know if the healthcare community understands the importance of service, versus critical care, or is willing to make the investment to improve it.
It doesn’t appear the U.S. healthcare system is currently organized to manage relationships which are inherently long-term. PRM is incongruous with the structure of our fragmented healthcare system.
Patients rotate among primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals, nursing center doctors, et.al. who don’t always communicate, share medical information or engage in long-term monitoring.
If healthcare providers would adopt a “patients for life” philosophy, this would lead to patients having a better quality of life. Patient satisfaction will increase as well as patient outcomes. All of this would drive the cost of care down.
Electronic medical records (EMRs) will improve care if healthcare providers, including health insurers, care as much about improving patient outcomes as they do minimizing patient payments and care expense and maximizing profit.
IF EMRs aren't the answer, perhaps Cisco's HealthPresence is? This will enable you to have lifetime relationships with the physicians you choose regardless of where you, or your physician, might relocate.
Do you think there’s a place for patient relationship management and a “patients for life” philosophy in healthcare?