Who are your patients?

Physician Entrepreneurs: Going Retail, published by HealthLeaders Media, January 31, 2008
Staff training and customer service initiatives can go a long way toward creating an exceptional patient experience, but there's no one-size-fits-all solution. Patient segments differ. Thus, it is important to know what each segment wants and what is important to them.

Most practices will have a mixture of the following types of patients:

1. Comfort seekers want to feel welcomed and comforted by staff and desire significant contact with family and friends. They value convenient scheduling and delay notifications. This group tends to be younger, with children and lower incomes.

2. Amenity seekers have higher incomes and are willing to pay for comfort. Strongly influenced by hospital or provider reputation, they are more likely to ask their physician for a referral to a particular hospital or specialist.

3. Control seekers are interested in efficiency and information. They are most willing to challenge a doctor's recommendation. This segment has less interest in entertainment and Internet access, and they often have lower incomes.

4. Just the basics patients are most concerned about location and convenience. They have less frequent and less intense provider encounters, and they are most likely to have high deductible health plans.

5. Physician-reliant patients are heavily dependent on physician recommendations. Some members of this segment delay a hospital or specialist visit after receiving their doctor's diagnosis. This group is the least likely to be influenced by patient experience factors.

For all segments, the most valued element of experience is being kept informed.

This story was adapted from Physician Entrepreneurs: Going Retail, a HealthLeaders Media book. For more information, visit www.hcmarketplace.com.
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