POINTS TO REMEMBER
Traveling patients are particularly vulnerable due to the challenges they may face seeking care in a faraway region or country.
Providers can mitigate the hardships medical travelers face by designing the patient experience, so it aligns with their unique needs and expectations.
We have reached a new age of consumer expectations and experiences.
Today’s consumer is a much smarter consumer than one from ten or 11 years ago-or even two years ago pre pandemic. With the introduction of the smart phone technology and more recently with people’s experiences throughout Covid-as well as evolving innovations in technology and business, how people interact with and what they expect from the services and organizations they depend upon, have been fundamentally altered.
Pre-Covid, healthcare was playing catch-up in the convenience obsessed, smartphone and increasingly consumer focused world.
In the US-88% of respondents to a Kaufman Hall Survey in this topic agreed that hospitals and health systems were vulnerable to consumer-friendly offerings from non-healthcare competitors, such as Amazon and pharmacies.
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According to Jean-Pierre Stephan, managing director of Accenture’s customer-relationship management offerings “Patients are increasingly shopping for healthcare services, and seeking the best possible overall experience when they need care.”
The patient experience represents a critical component of a hospital’s ability to attract and retain patients.
When patients form positive relationships and begin to trust providers, they become more engaged in their own care, and develop a stronger sense of loyalty to your organization.
Patient xperience impacts clinical outcomes and financial returns
Research has found that higher rates of patient satisfaction correlate with better clinical outcomes*, and better financial returns**. Thus, hospitals with high patient experience scores are likely to have not only better clinical outcomes, but better financial performance as well.
The Influence of the Pandemic on Healthcare
Throughout the last 18 months, the pandemic has influenced how consumers view and consume healthcare. Several key changes have occurred:
Has your hospital or clinic developed safety protocols for your ground transportation and hotels you recommend?
Download a free copy of GHA’s COVID-19 Guidelines for Medical Travel Programs.
Patient Experience as a Metric to Assess Quality of Care
Patient experience is also increasingly being used by insurance payers as a metric to assess the quality of care that healthcare organizations are providing, and consequently is changing the way that those payers structure contractual agreements. Higher-than-expected cost of service was the number-one frustration of patients with payers and the number-two frustration with providers in a recent study conducted by McKinsey (https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/how-covid-19-has-changed-the-way-us-consumers-think-about-healthcare) which found that a perceived lack of cost transparency can potentially drive consumer behavior away.
To help consumers make better decisions and obtain a better patient experience, healthcare companies can consider the following:
Patient Reviews Matter
Estimates place the lifetime value of a patient at approximately $1.4 million—and when patients have a bad experience and choose to go elsewhere, that money goes with them, along with anyone influenced by their negative reviews online.
According to 2016 US Healthcare Consumer Insights of Statistics, over 32% of people who visit a hospital website say reviews are the most important thing on the site.
Reputation based on patient experience impacts whether or not patients return to an organization or recommend it to those in their social network—which affects your bottom line.
The Advisory Board Company reported that a 10 percent increase in customer loyalty could generate more than $22 million in revenue for the average hospital.
Hospitals and clinics involved in medical travel have a prime opportunity to engage and support consumers better to ensure that they have a positive patient experience and good clinical outcomes.
Healthcare companies that live this mantra may not only satisfy their customers and create improved healthcare outcomes but also be best positioned to retain and increase their number of medical travelers based on reputation and word of mouth as the pandemic ebbs and medical travel returns to accommodate the postponed treatments and pent-up demand for care that was delayed due to Covid.