Health Care Marketers Are Best Suited to Drive the Patient Experience

By Matt Gove posted 7 days ago

Several years ago, Matt Gove, chief consumer officer at Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta, Georgia, convinced his CEO that marketing was the most appropriate place to lay responsibility for the patient experience.

His reasoning was persuasive. “We have a broad organizational perspective that extends far beyond the four walls of the hospital,” said Gove. “Marketers are focused on the entire patient journey, such as what happens before consumers come to the hospital and what happens after they leave. Traditional leaders of patient experience are concerned only with what happens in the medical center.”

The entry of Walmart and CVS into retail health care is also threatening to steer lower acuity patients away in Piedmont’s market. Gove adds that marketers also have the best understanding of consumer behavior. Personas and customer journey mapping are important tools for the marketer’s toolkit—and ones Gove relied heavily on for creating a new patient experience at Piedmont.

Customers vs. Patients
In 2015, Gove and his team began mapping the patient journey through the Piedmont system. “We found that 92 percent of patient experiences at Piedmont Health took place in outpatient or ambulatory settings,” Gove said. “These are primarily low acuity patients who have a choice in their care. I wanted to reach customers when they are actually acting like consumers, before they need us for specialty care.” The team began researching ways to ease the journey through various touchpoints within and outside the organization. They identified more than 100 different projects to do just that. The list was eventually pared down to nine key initiatives.

During the research, consumers said their biggest points of frustration in health care were getting an appointment and billing. The patient experience group created a plan that addressed these and other issues and rolled it out in the summer of 2016.

One of their first projects was creating the Piedmont Now access phone app. “It started primarily as a wayfinding tool that gives turn-by-turn directions within the facility itself using Bluetooth beacons,” Gove said. But subsequent updates added consumer-friendly innovations, such as real-time online scheduling where users can see a map showing the next available appointment closest to them, whether in an urgent care clinic, primary care office, retail clinic or emergency room. The app allows patients to click on the appointment, schedule it and obtain directions to the clinic. The app was a hit. Over 90 percent of users have accessed it more than twice since the app was upgraded in September 2018.

Another pain point Gove tackled was the billing and finance experience. “The billing process is complicated and difficult for patients to understand,” Gove says. “We redesigned the bill itself to make it easier to read, and for our customers to know what to do next.” A new payment portal allows patients to see all their Piedmont bills in one place, as well as those from affiliated clinics and independent practices. They can also pay any of those bills directly from the portal.

Measuring Success
To help measure the impact of these strategies, Gove says they have added a question on all their patient satisfaction surveys: ‘Based on this interaction, would you recommend Piedmont to others?’” Although Piedmont’s survey tool uses a 1 to 10 rating scale with 10 being highest, Gove translates that into the 100-point Net Promoter Score. “The results on our most recent surveys show our Net Promoter Score is almost 80,” he said. “That’s higher that Amazon and Chick-fil-A, which usually score in the low 70s.”

To learn more...

SHSMD members, read the full article “It’s Time for Health Care Strategists to Drive the Patient Experience” published in a recent issue of SHSMD’s Spectrum newsletter.

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This blog features an interview with:
Matt Gove
Chief Consumer Officer
Piedmont Healthcare
Atlanta, Georgia