Marketing Healthcare to Women: What Does Patient Satisfaction Mean?

April 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Hospitals are beginning to realize they are in the “hospitality” business.  And the things consumers value in hospitality are going to have to invade the hospital.  Things like “Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen” will help hospitals begin to score higher in patient satisfaction.  Increasingly, warm friendly service, appetizing food, entertainment amenities like WiFi and cable, and a pleasing atmosphere are becoming more important to patients.

Patient satisfaction has always been important to patients and hospitals, but it’s getting ready to hit the most important nerve in the body for hospitals – the one attached to their pocketbook.

Based on new health care reform legislation, beginning October 1, patient satisfaction surveys will factor into how much money a hospital gets paid by Medicare.  Patient ratings will compose 30% of  the consideration, and clinical quality will determine 70% of the payments.  Hospitals could lose 1% of their Medicare payments.  The only way to earn it back will be improvement of scores.  There will even be a bonus pool to reward those that do well or show improvement.

Why is this important?  Medicare is the leading payer for most hospitals, accounting for 35 to 55 percent of overall revenue.  And rate adjustments have been raining down lately.

Many healthcare providers will argue that the quality of healthcare is more important than patient satisfaction.  The types of issues covered in patient satisfaction surveys include courtesy, respect, listening, attentiveness, cleanliness, quietness, pain management, medication counseling, and how likely you are to recommend the hospital.

Hospitals have long measured patient satisfaction.  The national average of patients rating hospitals overall as 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale is around 68%.  If we were talking about the restaurant industry, that would not be such a great score.

What’s important to patients

Patients can only measure the things that they see and experience.  Most of us have very little way, other than personal recommendations or health ratings, to determine the skill of any physician or clinician.  In focus groups with patients, I often ask them to create mind maps of those things that were important to them during their hospital stay.  The responses always include communication with them and their family, creature comforts, time and speed, respect, cleanliness and safety.

Here are some of the things that are important to them and yes, food is one of them:

Amenities – Food, Private Rooms, Entertainment options like cable and music, Wi-Fi, Easy Access and Convenient Parking

Atmosphere – Cleanliness, Hospitality, Friendliness, Comfort, Relaxing Environment

Treatment – Pain Management, Services Offered, Technology

Safety – Patient Safety, Personal Safety, Privacy

Nursing – Attitude, Attentiveness, Responsiveness, Courtesy, Caring, Respect, Treatment of Family

Physicians – Access to them, Listening ability, Knowledge, Manner, Compassion, Reputation

Admission and Discharge – Quick, Timely, Follow-up, Discharge, Support, Affordability, Information

Where Consumers Get Their Information

It looks like hospitals and healthcare providers are going to need their own form of Trip Advisor.  Consumers get their information on healthcare providers mainly from online searches, recommendations from friends and family, physician referrals, past experiences, and advertising/media exposure.  These sources are why testimonials are so important whether they are served up by advertising, social media or one-on-one.

It’s the soft side of healthcare that is going to shape patient satisfaction.

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You are currently reading Marketing Healthcare to Women: What Does Patient Satisfaction Mean? at The Lipstick Economy.

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