7 Learnings to Improve the Healthcare Experience

Patients are miserable–especially millennials. Healthcare companies need to think holistically.

Seven provocative and suggestive learnings emerged from a major study of patient satisfaction that was just released by Prophet and GE Healthcare Camden Group. The following learnings provide a profile of the surprisingly dismal picture of the patient experience in healthcare today, but also provide insights that will hopefully lead to massive improvements. Prophet, the branding and marketing consultancy, and GE Healthcare Camden Group, interviewed 3,000 consumers and 300 healthcare executives about the holistic patient experience. The focus was on the total experience, rather than silos such as hospitals, doctor specialties or insurance companies because all aspects of the experience are intertwined in the minds of patients. Input from providers provided a more complete picture of the current situation and its challenges.

Seven headlines that come from the study:

1. The patient satisfaction level is abysmal, which I found very surprising and discouraging considering recent industry attention and initiatives. Only 40% of consumers felt that they received a high-quality health care experience and only 35% feel that the providers have an empathetic staff. Worse, the dissatisfaction is much higher among those that have more experience with the healthcare providers; some 75% of frequent healthcare consumers said they were frustrated with their health care experience versus 48% of the rest.

2. Low satisfaction is even worse among millennials. The group values two related factors: the ability to control their lives and having digitally-enabled convenience in doing so (they’re used to both in other aspects of their life). They adore firms that provide these attributes like Uber, Starbucks, Zappos, and Square. These two factors also appear in their healthcare preferences. Among their favorite healthcare brands are ZocDoc (find a doctor), Oscar (obtaining insurance) and WebMD (managing health); all of which provide health-related solutions that people can access on their own terms. Further, over 50% are willing to use telemedicine. They rely more on input from friends and family and less on their providers than did previous generations.

3. Providers overestimate their current ability to satisfy patients by more than 20 percentage points. For example, only 40% of consumers feel they are receiving a quality experience, but over 60% of providers believe that they’re delivering a quality experience. performance gap.

4. Healthcare companies want to improve patient experience but focusing on and implementing the strategy is proving to be elusive due to competing priorities. In a 2014 survey from the American College of Healthcare Executives, 75% of providers say that patient experience is critical to their success but on the list of the CEOs’ top concerns, patient satisfaction doesn’t make the top five. It is a priority that falls well behind managing the massive amounts of industry consolidation and finding the right merger partner(s). In the Prophet and GE Healthcare Camden Group study, 85% of providers admit they don’t have a clear picture of how to improve the patient experience.

5. There is a remarkable ROI story behind improved patient experience but it doesn’t always carry the day because it is not well documented or communicated. Patient experience investment drives increased capacity, reduces operating costs, improves employee retention and build an enhanced brand that creates loyalty and thereby increases revenues. One study showed an improvement in on-time appointments from 18% to 84% and led to measurable payoffs in terms of productivity and impatient referrals translating to $460,000 average additional patient revenue per physician per year.

6. Improving the patient experience will require medical systems that break down the siloed nature of the industry, including the payment sector. And that is not easy. It requires structural change with established organizations merging or creating close partnerships with other organizations with a different discipline and objectives, often with people, culture, and processes that are also dissimilar. Structural change often slows the pace of progress in improving the seamless integration of medical services.

7. Kaiser Permanente and Mayo Clinic show strong cases of success. Kaiser Permanente with its comprehensive health care model has the highest customer loyalty ranking in the health insurance category with a net promoter score 23 points higher than the industry average. Mayo Clinic has a strong reputation for delivering an amazing patient experience with concierge-level services. In both cases, it is the empowered people and culture that largely drive the service levels and customer satisfaction, although smart use of enabling technology is also a factor. They both go beyond fixing what is broken to surprise and delight their customers.

“All aspects of the experience are intertwined in the minds of patients.”


This study is noteworthy because it focuses on the holistic healthcare experience rather than components which is more relevant to customers and providers going forward. And it provides a data-based indicator of where the industry is, while also suggesting the types of initiatives and changes that will improve the patient experience while driving loyalty and ROI.