The health care world is racing to higher ground as the impact of consumer perceptions and choice continues to swell. The days of patient loyalty based purely on length of doctor-patient relationship have come to an end. A significant driver of this revolution is patient satisfaction and its multiple impact points.The health care experience is meaningful to consumers. Baby boomers and millennials have abandoned their parents' attitude of blind faith and become highly literate about health care: they seek information and they challenge their health providers. Online tools offer a vast resource and opportunity to share or rank experiences. Combine that resource with a competitive market and shrinking loyalty, and we see patients that are highly receptive to making a provider change.Health care entities have begun to feel a direct financial impact during the last decade. Federal reimbursement rates are increasingly tied to a widening list of mandatory patient satisfaction measures. That means hospitals with poor patient satisfaction metrics may receive significantly reduced reimbursement for Medicaid- and Medicare-covered treatment.
So, as patient satisfaction begins to influence management decisions, it is critical for the health industry to dig deep to understand how patients, staff and communities experience care, how they perceive provider relationships and the decisions they make about the care of their families. Providing innovative delivery mechanisms, creative new touch points and different behavior can help boost loyalty.Leadership can harness benchmark data to help define, model and reinforce ways to improve patent experiences. Understanding attitudes and driving clear goals can also be the basis for communications roadmaps that can spread the word, impact perceptions and motivate behaviors that grow awareness and attract loyal patients and their families.Embracing consumers via strategic grassroots programs and delivering relationship-building programs can make a significant difference. If patients are happy - and others hear about that promise of care - new patients will come. Patient satisfaction can become a meaningful and competitive advantage.How are you ensuring patient satisfaction - and communicating about that to current and prospective patients? We'd love to hear in the comments below