John M. McKeever Chief Growth Officer
John McKeever supports leaders who are seeking to make high impact changes in their business, primarily to advance strategies for growth and business optimization. He...
Our expectations when it comes to healthcare are evolving to match experiences in other sectors of life like retail, streaming services,
and entertainment. No longer satisfied with the hospital down the street or any physician referred, patients expect multiple options, easy scheduling at the click of a button, and fast-on-demand service. In a nutshell, they have become consumers of healthcare.
One of the most illuminating experiences for any hospital C-suite executive is to be a patient themselves or to utilize their call centers; they suddenly experience how difficult it can be to navigate the healthcare system, even as experts. Often, call center operators are centralized and unknowingly give directions to a building along a route that goes right by the dumpsters, therefore leaving a negative first impression. If executives walked the routes their call centers describe, they might understand a patient’s first impression. Or, for example, when faced with unfortunate circumstances when the executive or their loved one needs serious healthcare, many have their eyes awakened for the first time to how frustrating it can be to navigate the journey of care. Room temperature, access to a doctor, wayfinding, or pain management, can quickly influence their perception of care.
To create satisfying experiences for patients and attract more business, healthcare providers must learn who their patients are, what driving forces influence their decisions, how they perceive your brand, and how they experience you from a consumer’s point of view.
To create satisfying experiences for patients and attract more business, healthcare providers must learn who their patients are, what driving forces influence their decisions, how they perceive your brand, and how they experience you from a consumer’s point of view. Companies segment consumers in almost every aspect of life, and patients expect it in healthcare. Vanessa might have had a flawless experience at the same hospital that José found frustrating, and the difference lay in their values, expectations, and needs.
Defining your patients through segmentation requires research through patient experience mapping. For example, a company like Endeavor Management will engage patients in in-depth conversations about the steps in their journey with your organization. Survey questions ask about a patient’s expectations, their functional and emotional needs, and how well the organization succeeded in meeting those needs. After compiling the data, patterns emerge and segmented groups form. The groups are typically defined by attitudes, perceptions, values, lifestyles, and needs.
For example, when scheduling an appointment to see their physician, Rod might get frustrated at the long wait time to see his primary care doctor while Mike has no problem waiting for availability. Below the surface, it’s helpful to understand that all Rod needs is a quick conversation with any next available physician, even virtually, because all he needs is a prescription filled. While Mike has a long history with his physician, only trusts her, and will wait any length of time to see her and only her. Understanding these nuances will allow you to design various appointment scheduling options to offer to patients, knowing that one size does not fit all.
While one single 35-year-old patient has no problem filling out an in-app pre-appointment questionnaire before his appointment, another 35-year-old, busy mom of three, feels like the text reminder gets lost in a sea of to-do lists. She wants to fill out the paper version when she arrives at her appointment rather than use an app. A newly diagnosed cancer patient keeps calling for an update to see if their referral has gone through, frustrating the front-desk staff. All the while, what the patient needs is a feeling of progress in their care, and being offered something as simple as paperwork to fill out while they wait for the referral to go through, will alleviate a lot of their anxieties before they even step foot in the office because at least they are taking steps forward.
Segmentation humanizes data and puts a story behind it creating empathy in the design of strategies, processes, and care. Your brand will stand out for giving quality care, meeting both the functional and emotional needs of your patients, and stopping them from simply going elsewhere.