Geisinger Health System recently announced they will provide refunds to unsatisfied patients. In essence they are offering a money back guarantee. The system president and CEO, Dr. David Feinberg, said that the new program is their latest and perhaps most radical innovation.
Proven Experience is a program that offers refunds to patients whose expectations weren’t met based upon, get this, kindness and compassion. Geisinger is testing a pilot program that permits surgery patients enrolled in the pilot to use a patient app to ask for a refund. Dr. Feinberg doesn’t believe that patients will game the system and is confident the feedback they get will be invaluable in providing a high quality patient experience.
I’ve written a blog post on how Alternative Payment Models (Bundled payments, Affordable Care Act, etc.) are retailizing healthcare towards a consumer centric business model. Larger deductibles and copays cause patients to demand higher levels of service as they experience more out of pocket expense.
Just recently the majority of the American population is responsible for paying a significant amount of their healthcare and deciding where they are going to spend it. They have begun to demand that they get their money’s worth.
This makes providers like physical therapists more responsible to exceed their patients’ expectations. Patients use the Internet to research services and providers. They gather information to choose healthcare providers that have a reputation for excellent care and patient satisfaction. Consumer behavior will stratify therapy clinics further into two groups– clinics that provide exceptional patient experiences and those that provide commodity care.
Clinics that provide business as usual care will feel the direct impact
to their clinic’s bottom line and fall farther behind.
Dr. Feinberg admits that the money-back guarantee might seem a little extreme but his focus of “returning to the core of what we’re supposed to do when given the privilege to take care of others” is not. You might not be able to offer a “therapy warranty” at your clinic but here are three tactics to deliver quality care worthy of a money back guarantee.
3 Tactics to Provide High Quality and Compassionate Care
1. Be Convenient and Accessible
People are busy. Patients want to get in and out of their therapy appointments as quickly as possible. They are less tolerant of sitting in providers waiting rooms. The term waiting room is a turn off to many millennials.
The number of Americans with a primary care physician is slowly decreasing. Consumers are turning to urgent care centers and pharmacy chain clinics for quick and accessible care. Many patients want access to convenient care when they need it.
Consumer demand for convenience and accessibility will only continue to increase with the 92 million Millennials who will expect healthcare to keep up with the technology that’s a vital part of their lives.
Consider being tech and user friendly by including a scheduling app on your website where patients can schedule and change their appointments. Email your patient intake forms to patients so the forms can be filled out online prior to appointments. Utilize videos to orient new patients and to answer frequently asked questions.
2. Create Memorable Patient Experiences
If it wasn’t clear before, the time has come for therapists to provide a great patient experience. Competition has increased. It’s essential that therapists give patients what they will pay for: valuable, effective, and a remarkable patient experience.
If you don’t, they’ll choose to go elsewhere. The patient is now the payer. The patient expectations must not only be met but exceeded.
Provide high quality care by applying evidence-based protocols in a cost effective manner. Get patients better faster. Improve patient outcomes that help people take care of themselves and reduce costly visits to healthcare providers.
Disney takes a fanatical approach to creating magical customer experiences. Dayna Stelle describe her customer Disney experience in her Fast Company article that we can all try to emulate.
She writes “you do not overhear any employees complaining”. Now that’s a lesson that hits home. Therapists have been under tremendous pressure from the rapid changes brought about by healthcare reform. Negativity and cynicism are ways that some therapists choose to cope with the stress. Patients pick up on provider’s attitudes.
As an alternative try to make your work fun. No one likes to be taken care of someone who hates their job. Patients can take your negativity personal. They may think you are unhappy with their progress or worse yet you’re displeased with them.
Look at people in the eye and smile. Everyone. Patients, co-workers, cleaning staff and even administrators will most likely respond to genuine smile. Instead of your default answer being no try to say yes with a smile.
3. Be Compassionate
A recent survey published in the journal Health Affairs describes a compassion-gap in the United States healthcare system. Seventy eight percent of physicians say that most healthcare professionals provide compasssionate care, but only fifty percent of patients feel like they receive compassionate care. There is strong evidence that compassionate care has a strong influence on a patients’ care experience.
When a therapist is an empathetic listener and understands a patient’s emotional state as well as their medical condition it can make a big difference in patient outcome and satisfaction.
Dr. Larry Benz from Evidence in Motion offers an online course designed to change physical therapy from impersonal care towards a more compassionate and empathetic care. Dr. Benz’s Called to Care course is based upon research that demonstrates that if therapists frame their interventions in a positive manner treatment outcomes can be significantly enhanced.
If you find yourself losing your focus on providingcompassionate care as you struggle to keep up with your schedule. Strongly considering enrolling in Dr. Benz’s Called to Care course.
Therapists can maximize patient outcomes by being more empathetic, positive and compassionate. Despite the pressure that therapists feel within the current healthcare system they can leverage their effectiveness just by demonstrating compassion and empathy.
During your patient experience identify with the patents’ emotional need for connection and relationship. Attempt to truly listen to patients and take into account their needs and desires. Involve patients and families in your plan of care design and delivery. Patients will feel your truly understand them when co-design their treatment with their input.
Instead of telling patients what they need. Empower patients and families by incorporating their personal input into your treatment goals. Share information and collaborate with them to demonstrate that you view them as equal partners to achieve mutually determined goals.
A money back guarantee might still be a stretch but providing convenient, compassionate and collaborative care is definitely within your reach if you want to be relevant with today’s healthcare consumer.