A few days ago, I found out that I need to get surgery on my right elbow. It’s been hurting a long time now, during the course of which I’ve seen various medical experts in hopes they would have a solution. The healthcare industry is something that everyone utilizes even though it has a bad reputation for customer experience. The world is too busy to wait on a doctor, or to plan around the schedules of others. Often, people put money and success over their own health. In fact, recently there was a story in the news about a woman who injured her leg at a train station to the point where her bones were broken through the skin, yet she begged those around her not to call an ambulance because she could not afford it. The good thing though is that the healthcare industry is taking note and is changing the way we view healthcare customer experience. In my journey towards elbow surgery, I’ve observed first hand some of the important customer experience touchpoints that patients experience in their dealings with the healthcare industry. Here are some of my thoughts and impressions concerning those important touchpoints on my journey towards elbow surgery.
Time is Money
Forbes has an article titled, “The Top Five Trends in Customer Experience for Healthcare.” Number five is hospitals using smart technology. As a full-time student working 25 hours a week, I don’t have time to wait for a doctor. Thanks to technology, I don’t have to. I’ve had multiple appointments with various doctors, and each time I went to a new doctor they had me check in on an iPad. It was so quick and easy that it got me into the doctor’s office in 15 minutes or under. It was more efficient than my previous experiences with the doctor’s office. Some offices even let you check in online beforehand, eliminating the check-in time once you get there.
A Personalized Experience is Key
Visits to the doctors can add up. After so many visits I was paying the $25 co-pay like I was giving out candy to kids. Paying money for something, especially consistently, makes the consumer want to have the best experience possible with the doctor, and maximize the service as much as possible. The whole visit is an experience from the moment a patient walks through the door. Each part of the journey matters, including the check in, the wait to be escorted into the doctor’s office, the wait for the doctor, and then finally getting looked at.
The very last physician I went to, the one performing my surgery, really stood out and impressed me. When I came in, his receptionist greeted me with a gleaming smile. She asked what I needed and while I was in the waiting room, she continually answered my questions and offered any assistance necessary. The wait was short and before long, I was escorted into the doctor’s office, where the doctor treated me with respect and care. He asked me a variety of questions about myself, from what I like to do, to what’s hurting, what happened, and how can he be of assistance to me. I was so impressed! This man went through eight-plus years of schooling, is more than double my age, and probably drives a nice car, yet here he was, listening to me and letting me voice my frustrations. I felt like I was heard for a change. Ultimately, his genuine concern for my situation really won me over.
Sorry for Wasting Your Time
A survey by Merritt Hawkins says it now takes on average 24 days to schedule a new patient-physician appointment in the 15 major cities across the U.S. That number has jumped 30 percent since 2014 when it was only 18.5 days.
I had met with a few doctors prior to scheduling my surgery, and each appointment I set with a new doctor was at least two weeks out. I understand, doctors are busy people. However, the frustrating part of the experience was when I would finally get that long-anticipated appointment, and the doctor would just hurry his way through so he could get to the next patient.
A few doctors would come in and say, “You need to ice your elbow, that should take care of it, if you have any other concerns with it, feel free to schedule another appointment.”
Then they’d be off to the next person, shorting me of time, money, and true knowledge to what was wrong with my elbow. When I finally had a physician who was able to diagnose the problem and provide me with a solution, it literally changed my entire situation. All of sudden, my money and time were well spent, and I felt like I was in the care of hands that not only could help me, but wanted to help me.
Balancing Empathy and Efficiency
There are many dedicated businesses in the healthcare industry headed in the right direction when it comes to customer experience, much like the doctor I visited for my elbow.
Balancing bedside manner while making efficiency a priority in healthcare allows hard-working, everyday people to spend less time in the doctor’s office, and more time at their job and other obligations. By making the patient’s needs inside and outside of the office a priority, the overall experience reflects concern and consideration. There’s still a lot that medical professionals can do to improve when it comes to empathizing with their patient’s needs, but simple changes go far in creating customer loyalty and positive company perception.
Whether you are someone working in the healthcare field, or simply a patient seeking service, pay attention to your next experience and take note of what evokes beneficial interactions and positive feelings. If possible, implement necessary changes to improve the patient’s experience or leave feedback of your own. Implementing feedback from consumers is extremely important. Likewise, as a consumer, sharing feedback is crucial to the CX improvements as a whole. Together, the combination of the two drives business improvement for healthcare providers and higher satisfaction results. And that is something that’s always worth the wait.