Crises management in healthcare: Case study Eye hospital Sistina Oftalmologija
“Positive medical results are must, but they are only half of the story”
By: Dr Vesna Cado
Dec 28, 2020
“Patient experience is now a top strategic priority for healthcare leaders”, says academia and managerial practices of the world leading hospitals. In the last decade, Cleveland Clinic has undergone a cultural and organizational makeover. Mayo Clinic has also redefined its development strategies towards improving Patient Experience. In recent years, perceptions of performance and quality of healthcare organizations begun to move beyond examining the provision of excellent clinical care, alone, and to consider and embrace the patient experience as an important indicator. Sistina Oftalmologija has also joined PX society, by redefining its strategies and reorganizing organizational structure to create patient luxury experiences.
Because in today’s modern society, the service sector that forms approximately 80% of the US economy (Economy watch, 2010) is undergoing a deep transformation with utmost focus on consumer wants and needs. And health care is not an exception. Research confirms that patients choose hospitals on the basis of past experience, not clinical outcomes. Hospitals must stop trying to attract consumers to their services and instead build services around consumer needs. Moreover, hospitals have to deal with consumers that are demanding and in most vulnerable time of their lives, confronting the golden rule of customer service saying: customer is always right. Harvard Business Review reports that hospitals that score higher on patient experience scale have also better medical records and financial margins1. Extraordinary patient experiences create loyal patients and hospital’s economic growth.
What is PX?
There is still not officially accepted definition on PX. Generally, it represents an experience journey of the patient comprised of moments related to all interaction related with the hospital: hospital’s physical surrounding, caring relationships, and better quality of life of the patient. Experiencing a caring environment is essential for many patients. They feel uncomfortable about staying in hospitals, experience fear of unexpected complications and are often afraid. Research in healthcare and customer experiences recognizes the importance of inclusion of social conditions or psychological states of patients’ lives such as their educational, emotional and spiritual needs, to be an imperative in creating positive patient experiences. Meeting the emotional needs of consumers appropriately and at the right time can help establish emotional bonds. These bonds build relationships with customers and may explain why Apple customers remain so loyal despite the availability of other products with comparable functionality and lower price (Noble and Kumar 2008).
Who creates PX?
Each hospital employee and communication at every touchpoint along the patient journey. It might be the front-desk employee, or nurse, physician, patient experience employee, another patient or friend waiting in the hall, and of course digital media influence. Nowadays, they are all creators of patient experience. Therefore, it is important to underline that experiential value of medical care derives from co-creational aspects beyond dyadic relation doctor-patient, where patients are active participants of their medical treatment. Paternalistic structures where medical doctors single handedly decided on the treatment and care of the patient are outdated. Today’s patients are knowledgeable and expect transparent and human treatment, realized through trustful and emphatical relationships with hospital staff. Small but heartfelt acts of care and sincere empathy evoke powerful lived experiences that positively influence the healing process. Keeping a patients satisfied and loyal has obvious benefits. Unsatisfied consumers are more than twice as likely as satisfied consumers to share their experience with ten or more people (Chase and Dasu 2001). In a world where the average adult with a social networking profile has 123 online friends, most of whose opinions they trust, customers and their personal experience are increasingly becoming a company’s marketing department whether they like it or not.
How to create positive PX?
With strong commitment from the top management level and focus on human experiences to treat the whole patient, not just the physical body. Experiences of care require a patient centric culture that focuses on high-quality personalized care, timely responses, perfect coordination, and a reliable and responsive personnel. Patients often lack a degree of control and agency within the medical contexts. Services are a people-oriented business, they need people to serve people. Therefore, engaging and empowering hospital employees to improve experiences, becomes crucial. No one knows the patients better than those who frequently interact with them, so it is important that employees at all levels of the hospital are accordingly equipped with knowledge, practice and understanding to follow the mutual ultimate goal: to deliver extraordinary patient experience. Additionally, employees’ engagement and autonomy are critical ingredients for a high-performing workforce; Especially in the time of pandemic. Hospital’s determination to promote human values during COVID-19, is of immerse importance in creating positive experiences and maintaining hospital’s credibility and loyalty among its patients, but among hospital staff as well. In the last several years, academic research and managerial practice increasingly acquire knowledge, courses and operational procedures, to create environment and equip healthcare providers with tools to create extraordinary patient experiences. Being part of Patient Experience society from its beginning, Sistina Oftalmologija continuously educate its employees (administrators and medical staff) through regular lectures and courses, upgrading their knowledge and skills for improving patient experience leading to economic growth of the hospital.
1 Lee, T. H. (2017). How US health care got safer by focusing on the patient experience. Harvard Business Review.
Dr. Vesna Cado, is a Co-founder, Chief Experience Officer at Eye Hospital Sistina Oftalmologija, and Researcher at International University of Monaco