Patient Experience Is Evolving in New Healthcare Business Models
There’s no denying it; healthcare is changing — and not just within the walls of hospitals. In addition to developing new business models to support value-based care, healthcare leaders are developing new ways to engage patients and even exploring new ways to define the people they treat. And all of this change is having an ongoing impact on the patient experience. So, what does this evolution look like?
Delivering Care in New Ways
Recently, the Boston Globe took a look at how hospitals and other health systems are reimagining the patient experience. In an interview, Atrius Vice President of Innovation Dr. Karen DaSilva, noted that traditional approaches no longer satisfy patient needs. Her team is interviewing staff and patients to improve patient care models. DaSilva said, “I think it’s going to result in a complete new look on how we’re delivering care.”
Other healthcare-related organizations have joined the movement:
- A ‘practice of the future’ program at Massachusetts General Hospital is leveraging technology not typical in a traditional medical practice to see if patient-provider communication can be strengthened.
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is enabling patients to video chat with doctors to see if telemedicine is a viable alternative to some in-person visits.
- A growing number of organizations are developing mHealth apps and other tools for wellness tracking and patient monitoring.
Developing alternative care models moves hospitals along the path to healthcare transformation, but will the patients follow?
Redefining Traditional Roles
Becker’s Hospital Review recently explored how healthcare reform is leading to a change in how we talk about patients and healthcare providers.
The term “patient,” for one thing, is no longer descriptive enough. The alternative, “healthcare consumer,” addresses one dynamic of the new healthcare landscape. Having taken on the responsibility of shopping for healthcare insurance, comparing plans and paying out-of-pocket for care, healthcare consumers want the Amazon.com® experience: value, quality and service with unparalleled convenience. Yet, the term “consumer” falls short as well.
Dr. Benjamin Ticho, with Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois, told Becker’s Hospital Review, he prefers the term “patients” because “patients are dependent and vulnerable in a way that consumers are not. Patients need advocates in a way that consumers do not. To categorize patients as consumers allows or even encourages an economic perspective, which inevitably will distort and compromise patient care. And if patient care is compromised, the hospital business model will ultimately suffer.”
Others are looking for terms that capture a more collaborative relationship.
Dr. Michael McCoy, chief health information officer at the ONC, said, “I hate the word ‘consumer’ and I hate the word ‘patient.’ It's a person. It's an individual. The individual could be the person receiving care or it could be the person who's caring for someone receiving care. Consumer means you're buying something, but I don't necessarily want to buy health; I want to have good health. From an individual- or person-centric perspective, that's the frame.” And that’s an important distinction because the patient experience is changing as well.
The Patient Engagement Mandate
Part of the driving force behind the effort to redefine the vocabulary of healthcare is the fact that individuals aren’t simply passively receiving care. Patients — or consumers, as it were — are expected to take a more active role in their health.
But while hospitals may enjoy a greater return on engagement with the launch of innovative pilot programs, do they really lead to long-term change? Perhaps for some patients, but as with New Year’s resolutions, good intentions are not enough. Hospitals need to develop more precise communications that motivate individuals for ongoing engagement — and that requires greater insights into attitudes towards health and wellness.
Psychographic segmentation can help hospitals identify these distinct variations in healthcare consumer personalities and use that knowledge to fine tune business models, marketing and educational outreach to increase activation levels across a wide range of individuals and enhance patient experiences. How could such insights help you innovate more effective programs?