Boosting Revenues with a Patient-Centered Focus

Many healthcare organizations have changed to a patient-centered focus as they come to the realization that a happy customer means increased revenues.

Many healthcare organizations have changed to a patient-centered focus as they come to the realization that a happy customer means increased revenues.

Recently, BHM Healthcare Solutions took a look at just how a patient-centered focus can increase revenues for physicians for those who aren’t sure how to get started or are reluctant to make the change.

“Patient satisfaction has certainly become a buzz word, and rightfully so,” wrote Linda Ringquist, a healthcare marketing consultant with BHM.

She points out in her report on BHM that healthcare organizations have come to realize that providing excellent customer service should be the norm and the patient experience goes beyond care. Not only should doctors and nurses be friendly and available to help patients, but so should cafeteria staff, housekeepers, maintenance crew and anyone else whom the patient comes in contact with.

“Not only is a patient-centered focus the right thing to do, but reimbursement to hospitals is now partially based upon customer satisfaction scores,” Ringquist wrote. “Providing excellent customer service really does drive revenue.”

A J.D Power and Associates study from September 2012 reported that patient satisfaction is strongly tied to service and rivals the overall satisfaction of guests staying at luxury hotels. Based on factors like interactions with healthcare professionals, test and procedures, admission and discharge, and facility environment, patient satisfaction rated 825 points on a 1,000-point scale. Guests at luxury hotels averaged 822 points.

"Having an appealing hospital facility matters, but an experienced and socially skilled staff has a greater impact on patient satisfaction," Rick Millard, senior director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power, had said in a statement at that time. "Personal interactions with the staff have a profound impact in both inpatient and outpatient settings."

It’s not just hospitals that benefit from a patient-centered focus: physician practices would also do well to pay attention to patient satisfaction. Jeff Brown, MD, has often complained in his Take as Needed column that customer service is patchy at best in healthcare, and always has been.

“‘Customer Service’ is not a window, or an attitude, that you will see very often in our sector of the economy,” he wrote in a July 2013 column. Also adding that, “American medicine, presumably because of a historical scarcity of health care resources, has always existed for the convenience of the doctor, not the patient.”

, columnist Shirley Mueller, MD, wrote an article about her own poor experience at the doctor’s office. After waiting over an hour to be seen, she came to the realization that no one at the practice cared about her welfare. She ended up cancelling the procedure she was going to have and later found at least one other patient who did the same.

“As most doctors know, an upset patient will tell 10 others,” Mueller wrote. “A happy patient shares the experience with far less often.”

In Ringquist’s post on BHM, she states that working with a patient’s primary care physician upon admission and through discharge to create a patient-centered focus is the key to a flourishing hospital. Simply giving the patient instructions on what to do when he or she leaves the hospital is not enough and will likely lead to a readmission.

“Education is needed from both the hospital and primary care sides to ensure that the patient knows exactly what is expected,” she wrote.

Avoiding readmission through proper education of the patient can only benefit the hospital and prevent it from being hit with readmission penalties.

“Education and smooth transitions in which everyone is on the same page will lead to greater revenue opportunities,” Ringquist concludes.