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Hasslenomics and Patient Satisfaction: Mapping the Path to Better Care

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Next exit - Hassle free street sign against blue skiesA Guest Post by Dr. Paul Rosen about hasslenomics and patient satisfaction, and improving patient care.

One day when I was out of town, our refrigerator started making a loud humming noise. It sounded like the motor was about to break.

My wife called our regular appliance company for help. We wanted them to send someone right away--to either repair the motor or arrange for a new refrigerator. With a fridge full of food, and meals to plan, this snafu was unneeded stress for my wife.

The appliance store said they could send someone over—in three weeks. No apology and no offer to fit us in sooner. Three weeks.

My wife found another appliance company that was able to send someone the next day. The new company completed the repairs and saved us from buying a new refrigerator.

We had been doing business with the original appliance company for five years. In that time, we made several thousand dollars of purchases with them. In the coming years, I am sure we would have spent thousands of dollars more on appliances. But the 20-second phone call with my wife put an end to all their future business with us.

This incident made me wonder about the cost of dropping the service ball in healthcare. How many times do patients decide to cut ties with doctors and hospitals? And we don't realize we have driven patients away.

Further, how much is the revenue loss when a patient walks away and goes to another health system?  Chief financial officers track revenue from ER visits, surgeries, procedures, hospitalizations and ambulatory visits. But what about lost revenue due to hassles? Do we need to invent hasslenomics?

Pain points and the art of mapping hassles...

In their book, Demand: Creating What People Love Before They Know They Want It, Adrian Slywotzky and Karl Weber describe the technique of hassle mapping.

Hassle maps illustrate the pain points that consumers experience when they seek a product or a service. Failing businesses either do not measure their customer hassles or they fail to take corrective action.

Here are some hassle examples: Blockbuster the hassle of renting a movie from a store. That company is out of business. Tower Records and the hassle of buying a CD at a brick-and-mortar location. Another company that's out of business. And Borders Books; this bookstore is out of business. Contrast these with the convenience of Netflix, iTunes and Amazon.

Healthcare systems and providers need to recognize the new reality. Patients:

  • have choices
  • are paying more for their care
  • have service alternatives such as urgent care centers, apps, telehealth, online tools, etc.

In my field, pediatric rheumatology, the typical wait time is four months. But some institutions have made it a priority to see patients within a few days. Cleveland Clinic saw one million patients for same-day appointments in a year.

Waiting never helped any medical condition and it does nothing for patient peace of mind.

So, what if...

We should create a new academic discipline to measure the financial cost of upsetting a patient.  It registers when there's a delay in appointment access, have long wait times in the ER or delay responses to questions.

I propose we call this new discipline: "hasslenomics."

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