Engaged Patients Cost Less

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media , April 17, 2013

It's safe to say that practically everyone reading this article would be an engaged patient. It would be hard not to, being in the industry that we are. While this is beneficial to us personally, I wonder if it skews our views of how many patients are truly engaged and what the value of that engagement actually is.

This question is something I've been thinking about a lot lately as I prepare for the second surgery to repair the damage I did to my left thumb in a gruesome vegetable-chopping incident. (If you're sick of me harping on about this since November, just think of how tired I am of dealing with it.)

During my pre-op phone screen for my coming out-patient surgery, the RN rattled off a list of preparations and rules I had to follow before arriving for my procedure; track down and wash with a particular antiseptic soap three days prior, don't eat anything after midnight the day before, take this medication the morning of but not that, acetaminophen is okay for pain but no ibuprofen or aspirin, etc.

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I dutifully wrote all of this down and, of course, am following it to the T. But what about the people who don't? I can think of several happy-go-lucky (that's putting it kindly) friends and relatives who would easily brush off most of these instructions, who wouldn't bother trekking to three different pharmacies before they found the correct antiseptic.

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2 comments on "Engaged Patients Cost Less"

Joe Bigley (4/23/2013 at 11:54 AM)
@Patricia - I completely with your suggestion to include a "customer service" function in healthcare. It would engage patients more fully resulting in higher customer acquisitions, improve outcomes by more fully engaging them in their own care, raise patient satisfaction levels and likely reduce re-admissions. I was lead into the healthcare space having originally developed a video chat application for online customer service. Working with the Dir of Telehealth at Univ of Illinois at Chicago's Med School, we incorporated best practices from online customer service and over the course of about 12 months customized the application to include additional functionality specific to healthcare. It's now installed at a major healthcare system in Utah where it was originally piloted for 6 months to deliver evisits as an employee benefit. The results were so impressive that it's now been rolled out to all 25,000 employees with plans to extend the service to their patient population as well. In an industry where there is such competition for the new patients(AKA customers)it just makes sense that better customer service would yield more and better satisfied customers.

Patricia (4/17/2013 at 4:30 PM)
Marketers, really? Let's think again about those with best skill set to really improve patient experience. How about customer service/customer experience professionals? They're not marketers, and I don't know one hospital that has that job title in its HR database. Note to hospitals: hire these people from luxury hotels or spas, pros who know how to treat a customer right. Or from Zappo's or Amazon, pros who know how to cajole me into doing what they want. IMHO, healthcare background has almost nothing to offer me in terms of customer/patient experience except for those with innate skills.




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