Healthcare consulting is a highly competitive business. According to Hospital & Health Networks Magazine, it’s a $20 billion business, with the big bucks going to consultants in mergers and expansions and, of course, those who consult on increasing revenues.
Take Medical Information Technology, Inc., known in the industry as MEDITECH, whose combined revenues in 2015 were $475.5 million with about 3,750 people on their payroll.
Companies who consult on how to improve patient satisfaction aren’t making that kind of money, but at least they are out there, and some hospitals are taking their advice. Hospital patients and, by extension, their families are consumers just like people who go to restaurants or order stuff on Amazon.com. These retailers spend lots of money wooing consumers and keeping them satisfied.
Hospitals do not generally get high marks for hospitality. Maybe it’s that breezy gown that shows off your best side or the feeling that you, the patient, are adapting to everyone else’s schedule but your own. They are, after all, a service industry and most service industries seem to be dying to please customers— at least in their advertising, if not always in real practice.
“Healthcare is enforced hospitality. Involuntary hospitality. Which makes things a bit, or more than a bit, different,” reported Micah Solomon in the June 20, 2014 issue of Forbes magazine.
And yet one of the best hospitals in the country on virtually every top 10 list, the Cleveland Clinic, is all about patient satisfaction. Its Office of Patient Experience is in itself unique to the healthcare industry. Industry may, in fact, be a defining word for many hospitals, because it is about being busy and manufacturing a product. All too often hospital patients feel more like products than consumers.
Back to the Cleveland Clinic whose motto is “Patients First,” and their corporate view about patient satisfaction is stated thusly: “Putting patients first requires more than world-class clinical care… It requires care that addresses every aspect of a patient’s encounter with Cleveland Clinic, including the patient’s physical comfort, as well as their educational, emotional, and spiritual needs.”
Then there’s the Mayo Clinic, which gets pretty high ratings for healthcare itself. Management there decided that one of the worst things patients endure and complain about the most is waiting, waiting and more waiting. It was all about the scheduling. They hired consultants who were engineers, and they put stopwatches and every aspect of patient care, including timing how long it took wheelchairs to get from their rooms to various stations. And all that data was factored into algorithms that resulted in an overhaul of its patient scheduling system.
If the nation’s elite healthcare facilities can spend all that time and energy making life better for the patients and their visitors, hospitals across the country should be getting the message that improved hospitality is good business.