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Success in business in the healthcare world previously meant positioning yourself better than the hospital or ambulatory center down the street. Competitive hospitals or care providers had the latest technology, access to cutting-edge research, or breakthrough treatments revolutionizing care. This model of success is no longer enough.

As people have had more exposure to innovative brands and companies in other areas of their lives, they have begun to expect similar standards of ease, access, customer experience, and choice in the healthcare sphere. Companies like Uber, Disney, and Amazon have changed the way people consume, and brands like Chick-fil-a and Tom’s Shoes have introduced dining and shopping with a purpose. Healthcare has typically been slow to want to change to meet the rising expectations of their patients because change is expensive.

Patients pay more and more for their healthcare out of pocket and have an increased desire for information and involvement in all aspects of their care. Physicians often describe “Dr. Google,” and patients expect to know their costs upfront, allowing them to make choices based on what they can and cannot afford. Digital records have given patients instant access to their health information and tools to manage their health.

However, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the trajectory of patients becoming more like consumers increased even more rapidly. People experienced the convivence of streaming, home delivery, and up-to-date tracking information. Work and social connections all moved online to Zoom. Safety concerns thrust healthcare into an involuntary but necessary transformation of virtual care, a technology that many healthcare boards had been previously hesitant to adopt.

Demand for healthcare outside of COVID decreased and raised questions as to why. Were patients seeking care elsewhere, perhaps at their local CVS or Walgreens pharmacy? Were they waiting until things settled down and they felt safer to access care? Or were they hesitant to trust virtual care and prolonged seeing treatment? These questions forced healthcare systems to reevaluate their business models.

Additionally, the need and expectations of employees began to change as well. With employees working from home for almost two years, the question of who needs to go back to the office has become top of mind. While frontline workers began the pandemic with a sense of comradery and purpose, many have become burnt-out and are questioning their profession altogether. On top of that, the country has seen a widespread trend of retirement and career changes that makes keeping and attracting employees a complex challenge.

With this shift in how patients’ expectations have changed, how should healthcare leaders react?

What leading organizations are doing now is they’re no longer looking across the street to what other hospitals are doing or the top 50 list. They are asking, what does Apple do to become innovative? What is Netflix good at? Why is Disney such a trusted brand? What is it about them that’s making them excel? It is no longer enough to look at who does the best on the patient satisfaction survey. This relates to employees too, by the way. What is it that the world’s leading organizations are doing to get and keep their employees and then keep them engaged so that they become advocates for your organization? Remember that employees have options to and they are also looking around at what others are doing.

Here are three suggestions to help you navigate this fast current of change.

Recognize the changes.

How do you run a business while changing it at the same time? It requires having a dual agenda. A leader must continue to manage this pandemic crisis while noticing and embracing the evolution of care. Recognizing the changes happening all around you and realigning business strategies around them will be of great importance for success.

It requires a delicate balance.

A leader needs to maintain a strategic view of the future, pull along burnt-out employees, and attract consumers who have more options than ever before. Spend time on all three aspects of your business. You cannot put all of your energy towards your patients when employees are burnt-out and left behind; they will go elsewhere. You also cannot expect things to go back to the way they were once COVID is over. Patients will demand a different experience.

Get to know who your consumers are.

All your patients are not the same, and you must start from a mindset that you don’t know what it’s like to be a patient in your hospital. At Endeavor Management, we often have the hospital C-suite call their very own call-centers trying to make an appointment. They need to know what it is like to navigate the patient experience at every level. Maybe you have excellent parking at your facility, but what about the patients who do not have a car? Or perhaps your digital healthcare experience is the best around, but what about the patient who doesn’t trust technology-will they have a frictionless experience as well? The process of getting to know your consumers and designing an experience for each of them is called Segmentation. We will cover this in more detail in the next post.

Healthcare has found itself in the nucleus of a fast-changing world. To meet the needs of patients both today and tomorrow, leaders need to begin to see their patients from a consumer mindset. Offer your patients a frictionless patient experience full of choices and innovation because they have come to rely on that in all other areas of their lives.

 

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Advisors and Consultants, Business Strategy, Destination Medicine, Experience Management, Experience Management Healthcare, Health Brand Management, Healthcare, Operational Excellence, Organizational Transformation, Patient Experience Management, Solutions

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...

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