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Healthcare’s Consumerist Revolution and the Quality of Caring

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Man holding a briefcase leaping across two cliffsLately we’ve been thinking about the increasingly evident gap between patient expectations and provider expectations in healthcare today. As the nation’s health delivery system continues to redefine itself, there’s a shift from a provider-focused culture to a patient-centered culture.

Past, present and future, healthcare is a caring and progressive profession. No one deliberately offends patients or sticks with abrasive, “old school” methods. But, for many reasons, the patient increasingly feels more empowered as a consumer, the buyer, the driver and the decision maker. The system is increasingly patient-centric. The provider-focused mindset has become old school.

Forward thinking doctors and administrators who recognize this cultural chasm wisely adjust. But those businesses—medical practices, physician groups, hospitals and others on the provider side—doing “business as usual” quietly lose patients to the competition.

Then as now, patients rarely fire their doctor outright, or even storm out of the office in a huff. Most of the time, they simply (and silently) don’t return. (We’ve written previously about the paradox of disappearing patients here.)

While healthcare’s consumerist revolution is new, many provider practices have yet to recognize the added emphasis to customer service for the internal public. The challenge for healthcare marketing and branding is implementing greater emphasis on patient retention and satisfaction.

Patient Retention Essential Number Two

By far, the biggest single reason that consumers “quit” is a feeling of indifference. Of course some patients relocate and some are enticed to move by the competition. Their reason is rarely the quality of clinical care, it’s the intangible “quality of caring."

For your internal marketing audience, we’ve written about The 9 Essentials of Improving Patient Retention. Here’s Number Two:

Treat patients/clients with respect. Successful practices sustain a constant culture of respect, leaving no room for anyone to feel that they (the patient, visitor, family member) are an intrusion or interruption to the busy office environment.

Indifference doesn’t exist in a patient-centered environment. And the process of improving retention—a defined and practiced system—is grounded in the internal communication skills of the doctor, staff and everyone who works there.

Read about all nine patient retention essentials in this article from our reference library. And this article: How to Improve Patient Satisfaction and Win Patient Referrals.

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