USA today’s article “Hospitals turn to Disney for patient-satisfaction advice,” notes that in 2013 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will withhold one percent of Medicare reimbursements from hospitals and reimburse them based on patient satisfaction survey results. Reimbursement will increase to two percent by 2017. As echoed throughout our blog, poor customer experience is expensive – and in hospitals patient experience is being mandated. If hospitals can’t demonstrate that their patients are happy, they stand to lose millions of dollars of government funding – poor customer experience is expensive.
Healthcare organizations like Florida Hospital for Children are turning to specialist consultancies known for great customer experience to get things on track. In 2009 survey results, Florida Hospital for Children learned it had some of the most dissatisfied patients in the nation. In 2011, Florida Hospital for Children moved up to the 80th percentile of all children’s hospitals nationwide.
So how did they do it? As it turns out, a little bit of magic can go along way. Florida Hospital for Children turned to Walt Disney Company to “set the stage” for boosting patient satisfaction.
Disney Co. transformed architecturally bland areas into zones teeming with colors, smells, and life for its youngest and most vulnerable patients. Disney-themed play areas, complete with figures from Lion King, Brother Bear, The Jungle Book and The Little Mermaid, working in tandem with costumed staff (cast) members and floral scented backdrops destroy the intimidating, sterile and apathetic signature “hospital” feeling.
Beyond Philosophy’s healthcare clients typically don’t have budgets for architectural redesigns like those in the Florida Children’s Hospital case; the great experience has to shine through in spite of the more typical hospital environs. Our goal in working with hospital clients, as our case study with Memorial Hermann Hospital shows, is for healthcare professionals to internalize the need to balance the clinical and the emotional. How have we been successful? We transform behaviors by applying a steady pace coupled with focused coaching informed by “outside-in” patient experience insights.
Improving the patient experience now will boost customer metrics (i.e., HCAHPS) and help organizations to recoup CMS reimbursements in the USA. In Europe, there is a similar movement to improve the patient experience because it leads to improved treatment regimen adherence, which means reduced costs. Most importantly, though, giving the patient experience a human touch improves health outcomes. Patients who feel better, do better!