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Analysis

Almost 70% of Provider Execs List Consumer Experience as Top Priority

By Jack O'Brien  
   July 10, 2019

A Sage Growth Partners survey commissioned by Docent Health asked executives which consumer experience strategies were most effective.

Responding to the continuing impact of consumerism on healthcare is the main concern for nearly 70% of executives, according to a survey released Wednesday morning.

Most executives, including more than half of those in highly competitive markets, were likely to say improving the consumer experience is a top priority for the organization, according to the results of a Sage Growth Partners (SGP) survey commissioned by Docent Health.

And though most executives had added staff to better the consumer experience, only 35% of respondents said they had a C-suite member dedicated to addressing the issue.

The survey is the latest in a string of trend studies on what healthcare executives are focused on as it relates to providing better quality to patients while also bolstering their respective organization's bottom line.

Related: Patient Leakage Can Sink Your Revenues by 20% or More

Dan D'Orazio, CEO of SGP, told HealthLeaders that the report is the latest example in a line of research pointing to healthcare organizations having greater net margins as a result of a superior customer experience.

"I think we're still at the dawn of this consumerism wave but it's demonstrated that the better you are, the more money you get," D'Orazio said. "I think the secondary research was matched well with the feedback we got from the market in the report, where our respondents were basically saying that [having a] better consumer is better quality, lower cost, and higher revenue."

Related: Chronic Care Management Impeded by Lacking Tech, Reimbursements

Additionally, keeping pace with technology continues to be a mission for executives, as Millennials demand improved patient navigation programs from their respective provider organizations.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents have a navigation program and reported better rates for quality outcomes, patient engagement and retention, as well as patient adherence to care plans, compared to those that did not have navigation programs in place.

The large majority of patient navigators have clinical backgrounds, but the SGP survey found that respondents indicated that nonclinical navigators were more effective in improving patient engagement and retention.

Also, more than 80% of organizations use telephone calls, electronic health records (EHR), and patient portals to improve the consumer experience, though only 35% use a centralized customer relationship platform.

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Stephanie Kovalick, who leads SGP's strategy consulting team, told HealthLeaders that there is a generational shift taking place not only among consumers in healthcare, but physicians as well.

She said that while health systems have not made large scale investments yet in digital health technology, specifically telemedicine services, younger physicians recognize that their patients are increasingly favoring on-demand healthcare access over traditional face-to-face encounters.

"Your older physicians are resistant, [while] your younger physicians are [saying] 'Heck, yeah' because [they] grew up with [technology in healthcare]," Kovalick said. "They have the same expectations and want to do this all online and digitally. Those are just simple things that are almost table stakes now with patient attraction and retention because [providers] just have to have it. There certainly is the desire for the newer generations to have virtual access to physicians, so telemedicine, some of these other things are big investments, but I think reap big rewards."

Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

More than half of executives in highly competitive markets were likely to say improving the consumer experience is a top priority for the organization.

However, only 35% of respondents said they had a C-suite member dedicated to addressing consumer experience.

"I think we're still at the dawn of this consumerism wave but it's demonstrated that the better you are, the more money you get," said Dan D'Orazio, CEO of Sage Growth Partners.


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