Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Consumer Satisfaction in Healthcare Marketing

The dynamic has changed.

With the advent of HCAPHS and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) consumer satisfaction is no longer a nice too have but a got to have in healthcare. Difficult to achieve and tough to beat once you have it, consumer satisfaction with your medical services, regardless of the monikers we place on them, will drive volume and revenue. Revenue for the standpoint of Pay-for-Performance (P4P) programs and volume from consumers selecting you in a very "commoditized" and provider undifferentiated healthcare market place. As you create your networks, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), Medical Homes (MHs) and other yet undefined organizations, you have the opportunity to "get it right" this time.

For the past 10 years, I have been writing and working within healthcare organizations to improve satisfaction. Ten years ago, I had the opportunity to coauthor a book with Ralph Bell, PhD., on satisfaction entitled- How to Use Patient Satisfaction Data to Improve Healthcare Quality, American Quality Society, Quality Press . This past weekend I received a notice that the publication run worldwide is 843 copies to date and counting. The books relevancy today is even more so than it was when first written given the changes in healthcare in the U. S.

The healthcare consumer of today will view your services as: value= f(cost, quality, satisfaction) as compared to the near past where value= f(cost, quality). Value here is the defining moment and is a function of cost, quality and satisfaction with you.

Marketing Implic`tions

With the ACA and HCAPHS Hospital survey in play by reporting provider satisfaction as a common basis for measurement and consumer comparison, all the more imperative the focus on patient satisfaction. Healthcare is not an easy business by any stretch of the imagination. We work with people who are patients and their families that are at various states of emotional distress, caring employees (for the most part), good physicians etc. So satisfaction for so many different groups becomes interrelated.

Why is it important?

High levels of satisfaction are a powerful differentiators on your market, negotiations with insurance companies and your physicians.

Done correctly, your satisfaction program becomes the Voice of the Customer (VoC) to drive real organizational change.

It is a strategic and tactical edge for your brand and your marketing communication efforts.

Think customer evangelization.

Where does satisfaction start?

No surprise here - right in the executive suite. The CEO and senior leadership sets the tone, tenor and actions by what they do or don't do. How they treat others. How they measure and hold themselves accountable in the performance evaluation process. It's either part of the culture or not. People clearly trained, as well as understand the organizational rationale, policies, procedures for satisfaction and are part of the program, or they see it as the flavor of the day because so and so said so.

Satisfaction is a Process

Patient satisfaction is a process that is controllable and understandable. It is the voice of your customer. By listening to that voice, I mean really listening to that voice, you would be surprised at the improvements that you can make in your healthcare setting. Patients, physicians and others view the hospital experience not as a set of unrelated departments where things ard done to me, but as a coordinated whole in a continuous process.

Where do we go from here?

It starts with learning. It starts with an honest assessment of here is where you are. It starts in the C-suite. Commitment, compassion, understanding, listening, process control and improvement.

The choice is yours. The marketing implications, strategies and tactics are clear. Lead or be left behind.

You can continue the conversation with me on:


Michael Krivich is Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and can be reached at or 815-293-1471 for consulting services in strategic marketing, integration of sales and marketing, media relations and interim marketing executive leadership assignments. Huthwaite SPIN selling trained and a Miller Heiman Strategic Selling alumni, both highly respected and successful international sales training organizations , I can lead your organization though the challenge of integrating sales and marketing.

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