When you decide to buy a new car, what do you do? Perhaps, browse several dealerships to see where you can get the most value. You, as a consumer have the power of choice to evaluate which car is best for you. This ‘best deal’ phenomenon is starting to apply to healthcare services for non-emergency or acute situations. With the emergence of “Minute Clinics,” outpatient options are growing.
Haskell’s Ted Moore, a Healthcare Project Design Principal, provides a personal anecdotal story as a patient that values time, efficiency and certainty. As a healthcare facility expert for more than 23 years, he predicts that if these issues are not addressed, there will be much more competition for your system than you may have considered.
Exploring My Options
I recently needed a MRI brain study conducted (with and without contrast) as an outpatient procedure. I could do the 60-90 minute procedure as an outpatient at one of three local hospitals, or at one of about seven outpatient MRI imaging centers that took my insurance. Since the procedure was going to require considerable out-of-pocket expenses, I decided to compare and shop around.
When I contacted the three local hospitals, none of them could offer me a time estimate nor estimate an accurate price. All of them suggested that I plan on being there all day. In an active family with two working parents and two very active, young teenagers, I simply just don’t have all day. I decided to explore my options.
The Consumer Power
When I spoke with one outpatient center, they described all the steps to me. In a brief phone call, they told me the exact price, when I needed to arrive, when I would be able to return to work, and even what portion my insurance would cover. It made my choice very easy. The day of my MRI, I was out of the office a total of about 3 hours, instead of the full day the hospitals anticipated. More importantly, everything they promised was exactly as described – taking the uncertainty out of the procedure.
After this experience, there is no doubt that I will drive further and even pay a little more if I feel like my time is valued. I think that is the exact reason why “Advanced Urgent Care” services and “Minute Clinics” are becoming extremely popular around the country. In addition to providing advanced care capabilities and extended hours, they are really emphasizing customer service and convenience.
Instead of presuming I need my healthcare provider more than they need me; I have realized that in today’s market, I have the power to choose.
Shifting From Patient to Healthcare Facility Professional
Once I shifted my view from a patient to a healthcare facility professional, I knew, in order to help my clients, they would have to place a renewed focus on the patient experience. Patients are becoming more selective as they have more options, so simply mounting a new television in the waiting room will not be enough. Hospital owners must go beyond simple processes to appeal to this new, more selective patient.
Hospitals are realizing that a world class healthcare facility is not just about aesthetics, it is also about designing for operational efficiency and the patient experience. For example, healthcare systems are beginning to repurpose and relocate departments to centralize services. Tightly integrated service areas that can meet the needs of patients efficiently are far better than sending patients to a variety of floors or departments.
The Evolution of Outpatient Services
We understand that your hospital is now being measured by how many people you keep healthy instead of how many people remain in your care. Therefore, outpatient facilities are a way for you to keep your patients within your healthcare system without being in the hospital. For outpatient services, however, patients now have more options and will exercise their power of choice when they feel like their patient experience is not up to par.
The outpatient market is evolving and patients have the power to vote with their wallets. The question is: Will they vote for your healthcare system? Telling patients to sit down and wait is just no longer going to work.
If you would like to discuss facility solutions that can improve the patient experience, contact Ted Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.