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I’ve been reading some pretty interesting books on patient experience and value-based healthcare. In addition, I keynoted at the Population Health Forum in Boston in May 2016 and discussed how storytelling can help people be healthier. Also, in May, I keynoted at the Cleveland Clinic Patient Experience Summit and was able to catch up with a number of healthcare providers as well as patients.
The books, conferences and other exchanges all came back to one thing:
How do we offer the best and most relevant value to our patients?
Cost plays in there, too, sure but value is such a personal experience and I kept thinking about how do I define value in my own healthcare experience? For me it comes back to these items:
- Was I treated in a personalized, respectful and efficient way?
- Was the problem – if there was one – taken care of in the least intrusive and most comfortable way?
Let’s look at these one at a time.
Was I treated in a personalized, respectful and efficient way?
Nobody wants to feel like they are just a number on the assembly line and is being pushed along. I appreciate it when they know me the way they should know me – even if it’s a new person. My records show what you need to know in a particular encounter.
A could be better example
When I see an eye doctor and somebody new checks out my eyes and comments on how one eye is just harder to measure, or they set the letters way too small for me to read. They already know that the eye can’t see much and there’s no reason to treat me like they didn’t know that.
A great example
When I had eye surgery a few years ago, the surgeon stayed in the room with me when I called the insurance provider to find out if the surgery would be covered. He gave me the right code and even helped me answer the questions on the phone. Surgery was covered. Let’s get it scheduled.
Another great example
I once saw my dentist with a minor tooth issue. She couldn’t figure out what was going on, but still offered some tips (not more tests) on what I could try. She also said this: “I do believe you that it hurts.” While I didn’t feel like anyone questioned my truthfulness at anytime, this was a nice statement and I remember when doctors years and years ago would brush off aches to imagination.
That efficient way of dealing with patients
I remember years ago and still hear stories from time to time that patients show up on time for an appointment and then have to wait forever. I haven’t had that experience in a while probably and wouldn’t stay with a provider if I had to wait for a while.
Was the problem – if there was one – taken care of in the least intrusive, most comfortable and patient-centric way?
Why can’t we have a relationship with our healthcare provider when we are mostly healthy? Maybe we can partner to stay healthy or get healthier? It’s a fine line though. I started having annual exams at one point again and the physician basically just said: “I don’t see any problems,” but then told me to come back to do some tests, just in case. Why would I do that if everything was fine? One way to stay connected with physicians is if they start sharing some of their specific health stories and tips through a blog. Even if I never see them, they know their stories are impacting me since I get their emails.
Physician blogging – my team can help! Check it out here.
A few years ago, I had ballooned to 330 pounds, lost 130, and ended up seeing a plastic surgeon to get some of that flabby skin cut off. I was ready to spend $6,000 on a procedure that he told me I didn’t need. “Your skin adjusted great.” It was hardly flabby, he said. “You can use that $6,000 for something else.” I paid $40 for my visit and that was that. It was a patient-centric approach and I appreciate it to this day. He basically lost money by doing what was right as opposed to what brought in revenue.
I also appreciated that they told me the cost upfront – even over the phone before my appointment. They even told me how I could finance it, get $500 off and more.
That’s what I call value-based healthcare.
How do we attain patient experience of value?
Since value can be a wildly personal experience, it will all come down to each person’s experience and perception of care. Yes, parking can influence that. Yes, front desk staff can, too. And then all those other interactions and outcomes. The more people are added, the more important it is that they all offer a great experience.
And then, for the most part, people remember the “extremes.” They remember the parts that surprised them positively. And then remember the parts that were bad. Patients can have a totally perfect experience once they get to the office, but if parking was a nightmare – as common as that is – that can impact the entire experience. Maybe offer shuttles? That would be a positive surprise that will be remembered.
Value to me happens when my healthcare providers treat me like a partner in my own health, are helpful and do what’s best for me, while also getting my understanding and buy-in while not wasting my time unnecessarily. And I want to know the cost before I incur it.