As health care continues its push toward consumer- ization, providers are taking a second look at the way they run their practices in order to not only remain relevant, but also grow a thriving practice. However,
while most providers are looking to make changes in their practices, it seems everyone has a different idea of which changes
best meet the demands of the new healthcare consumer.
Some practices focus on attracting and retaining patients
as their buying power increases. 1 Patients have few limits in
choosing a provider. A quick Internet search yields a long list
of all the practices near a desired location that offer the care
they need and accept their insurance. If the patient doesn’t
like one provider, there are plenty of others on the list to
choose from. These practices want to attract new patients
and work with their existing patients to build loyal relationships so they keep coming to their office.
Other practices choose to emphasize involving patients in
their healthcare decisions. 2 This is a beneficial approach, too,
because patients who are involved in their healthcare decisions
are likely to comply with their prescribed treatment plan. And if
they are doing the things their provider recommends, they will
experience improved health and be likely to return.
Patients Are Key
Still, healthcare practices may feel that “healthcare consumerism” means they need to personalize care and build
connections and relationships between providers and
patients to foster loyalty. 3 None of these approaches are bad,
but practices tend to be most successful when they integrate
all of these aspects into the care continuum.
In a consumer-based healthcare model, patients are the
key stakeholders. They hold the ultimate power to decide
which practice they choose and what their expectations are
for each encounter. Practices that listen to their patients and
do their best to accommodate individual wants and needs will
succeed more than those practices that place little value on
So what is it that patients really want? Recent studies show
that connectivity and added convenience through text and
online tools are at the top of patients’ wish lists. 4 Patients
want the same level of customer service from their healthcare provider that they get from any other organization they
do business with. They want to easily reach their provider,
and they want their provider to connect with them between
appointments, too. Patients also want to move away from the
old-school method of phone calls. They don’t want a call to
remind them of an upcoming appointment or that it’s time to
schedule another one. Most people won’t even answer a phone
call, and they surely aren’t listening to the voicemails being left,
either. 5 Patients don’t want the hassle of trying to find a time
when the office is open to make a phone call to schedule an
appointment. They want these things to be easy and adaptable
to their schedules, and that means text conversations, online
scheduling, and personalized communication.
Making Process Easy
To keep a practice successful, providers must take these
preferences into consideration without forgetting that their
No. 1 priority is to take care of their patients’ medical needs.
Providers need to find ways to blend their traditional focus on
patient care with the modern technology patients want. And
with patient relationship management (PRM) software, they
can do just that (see “Software Solutions”).
Many practices have seen vast improvements when they use
PRM software to meet patients’ needs. Implementing two-way texting had a big impact for the patients at one pediatric
Market Build loyalty into the patient experience
By Josh Weiner