Beyond Patient Satisfaction

“The key to unlocking this (growth) potential is and always has been to focus on the consumer…This is why our Category Offense is such a powerful advantage. The insights we draw from our deep consumer connections fuel our ability to create new products and services that excite and engage.”  – Mark Palmer, CEO of Nike.

Mark Palmer’s Category Offense strategy is to dominate entire sports such as football, soccer, golf and tennis, but not just by selling more shoes and apparel. Rather, Nike is doing this by identifying everything that athletes in each of these sports categories are trying to accomplish and where they struggle, and then applying Nike’s technology and expertise to create superior new offerings. Nike understands that, in innovation as in archery, you must have a target before you can hit the bull’s eye. Customers’ unmet needs are our targets of opportunity to guide innovation and growth.

Any organization can implement a Category Offense. In healthcare, the categories are service lines. And while it’s enough for Nike to understand the needs of its customers (athletes) in each sport, in healthcare, it’s important to uncover the needs of the primary stakeholders, what they’re trying to accomplish, and where they struggle – not just patients. Patient satisfaction surveys are highly effective for measuring current services on key service attributes, but they are not effective at uncovering everything patients want to accomplish with the healthcare system and where they struggle. This includes functional, emotional, and social needs associated with obtaining a diagnosis and treatment, as well as a multitude of tasks related to maintaining health and wellbeing. For example, research shows that patients want to:

  • Maintain lifestyle while aging, e.g., keep desired mobility, flexibility, energy, etc.
  • Improve resistance to disease/illness
  • Maintain physical appearance, e.g., muscle tone, weight, etc.
  • Reduce the effects of aging, e.g., wrinkles, condition of vital organs, etc.
  • Maintain desired physical fitness, e.g., stamina, mobility, etc.
  • Maintain vitals in the desired range, e.g., blood pressure, heart rate, etc.
  • Achieve a positive outlook on life
  • Achieve a desired mental state, e.g., relieve stress/anxiety, improve memory, etc.
  • Obtain a healthcare goal
  • Etc.

It will become increasingly important for healthcare organizations to help patients maintain health and wellness as these institutions transition into Accountable Care Organizations.

But a Service Line Offense for healthcare also requires identifying the needs (tasks) that providers are trying to accomplish and where they struggle. Employees and affiliated providers are internal customers who rely upon hospital administration to provide the tools, systems, processes, and technologies necessary to treat patients and delivery on the hospital’s brand promises. For example, nurses in an acute care setting are trying to:

  • Assess a patient’s condition
  • Diagnose a patient
  • Plan the care
  • Implement the care plan
  • Gather equipment/supplies/materials
  • Administer medications
  • Deliver care
  • Etc.

Other important stakeholders include payers, employers, regulators, and hospital administrators. Each stakeholder’s needs can be readily identified and prioritized according to how important and satisfied they are. Those needs that are highly important and unsatisfied are opportunities for value creation, differentiation, and growth. The more important and less satisfied the need, the greater the opportunity for new value creation and differentiation. This information provides hospital leadership with the insight and focus it needs to untangle difficult system problems and:

  • Increase employee/provider job satisfaction
  • Attract and retain talent
  • Increase patient satisfaction
  • Establish competitive advantage/differentiate
  • Drive revenue growth

Is it time for your organization to move beyond patient satisfaction?

Note: I will be presenting “Beyond Patient Satisfaction: How to Differentiate and Grow With New Customer Metrics” at the Central Ohio Healthcare Financial Managers Association Annual Conference, 9:30 – 10:30 AM, 3/19.  Contact me for more information.


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