Cleveland Clinic's Customer Experience Strategy For Hospital Patient Satisfaction

Mar 7 2014, 8:47am CST | by

Cleveland Clinic's Customer Experience Strategy For Hospital Patient Satisfaction
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

If you want to improve patient satisfaction in healthcare, reconsider how your hospital or practice thinks about time.  And work to swap a patient-centric view of time for a provider-centered one.

Now, doing a good job in healthcare does take time. Scans take time to read properly. Cultures take time to grow. Thoughtful diagnoses and effective discharges absolutely take time.

The last thing I’d want to do to your hospital is turn it into the healthcare equivalent of a fast food joint.

But some of the wait times your patients suffer through at present don’t add anything to successful clinical outcomes. And the reason you’re making patients wait? Probably in part because you’ve always done it that way, and everyone else in healthcare is making patients wait as well.

Well, you can’t use that rationalization anymore. Not if you’ve been watching what Cleveland Clinic has been doing on the timeliness front.

In fact, maybe you should start by listening to Cleveland Clinic. Call them on the phone—here’s the actual greeting you’ll get.

“Thank you for calling Cleveland Clinic. Would you like to be seen today?” 

And they mean it.  According to James Merlino, MD, Chief Experience Officer at Cleveland Clinic,

“Anybody calling [Cleveland Clinic] for an appointment for any specialty can be seen today.”

You read that right: Cleveland clinic does “about a million” same-day appointment visits a year. Seriously.

Getting people in to see a doctor same day they call (it’s not until 4 pm that the script changes to “would you like to be seen tomorrow?”) is an extreme and extraordinary move by Cleveland Clinic to take patient satisfaction to a new level.

Which is something that’s come a long way since the bad old days, when their incoming CEO, Toby Cosgrove, would joke, “Patients come to us for high quality care– but they don’t like us very much. “ (Which wasn’t much of a joke, really.  When Cosgrove took the reins at Cleveland Clinic in 2004, patient satisfaction was in the lowest 10 percent of the nation.)

While nobody of any age likes to wait, this commitment to speed comes partly from Cleveland Clinic’s eyes being trained specifically on the incoming millennial generation of patients. (Millennials are a crucial generation of customers for any business—including healthcare—to consider. They are 80 million strong in the U.S., making them larger than the baby boom, and much larger than Generation X, the generation that immediately preceded them. And their expectations are quite different, being the first generation to take the internet, and smartphones, entirely for granted. A historical reality which changes their perception of time, convenience, and more.)

A million same-day appointments

They pull this off… how? Well, the same-day appointment commitment required Cleveland Clinic to get through some operational hurdles. Actually, Dr. Merlino corrects me on this: “‘operational hurdles’ is an understatement.”  An extraordinary amount of work has had to be put into “managing the flow and ensuring we have the capacity.”

The same-day appointment promise is also dependent on a sophisticated triage process.

In other words: I can’t just call up and say

“I have a headache. I want to see a neurosurgeon.”

Well, actually, I can call in and say that—and they’ll be ready to deal with it.Here’s what happens: I’m taken through a series of questions on the phone; depending on how I answer those questions, the Cleveland Clinic telephone agent will be able to determine whom I should see, and will ensure I get that appointment today.

Dr. Merlino:

“So, Micah, [in the example above] you may not see a neurosurgeon for your headache, but you may see somebody who is a headache specialist or you may need to talk to a nurse who can better triage what you need. But we will get you to the right provider at the right time.

“If you call and say, ‘Look, I was in the emergency department last night with a headache and they did a CAT scan and they say I have a brain tumor. I need to be seen by a neurosurgeon today,’ you will see that neurosurgeon today.  If you call in with a headache [and] you say certain things which are warning signs—answering yes to ‘is this the worst headache you ever have in your life?’ is one — you will immediately be transferred to a nurse who will do a more assessment and then guide you to an emergency department.

If it’s just a garden variety headache, as determined by the agent’s triage questions, they’ll still “get you an appointment with somebody today who can help you with the headache.”

Speak the patients’ language, use the patients’ channels

The same-day appointment commitment isn’t the only time-bending patient satisfaction change Cleveland Clinic has introduced.   Another one that struck me is their understanding that patients these days, especially but not only millennial patients, want to communicate with their healthcare providers through the same communication channels they use to run their social lives. Which is a theme I am seeing in every arena of business. Appointments via mobile, information via mobile, chat online, doctors (after HIPAA waivers) corresponding with patients via email. Using telepresence for followup care with homebound patients. and more.

All of which, if you think about it, are ways to stretch, bend, mitigate the effect of time on the patient experience. Emails are asynchronous: they don’t have to be read at the time the doctor wrote them, a fact that can make things more convenient for both parties. Online chat is immediate when you need it to be immediate, again reducing wait. Information on mobile apps (Mayo is another leader in this) is another time — and potentially life— saver as well.

—–
So what’s next on the speed front? Chief Customer Officer Merlino, who is also a practicing colorectal surgeon, jokes it might be, “Thank you for calling Cleveland Clinic. We’ve already solved your medical issue; is there anything else we can help with?”/>

Micah Solomon is a customer experience and patient satisfaction consultant, customer service keynote speaker, and author. Reach Micah at 484-343-5881 or micah@micahsolomon.com

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Mali confirms two new Ebola cases
United Nations, Nov 26 (IANS) Mali has confirmed two new cases of Ebola, bringing to total number of cases in the West African nation to eight, days ahead of the opening of a new UN Ebola response office.
 
 
Merkel warns of recession in Europe
Berlin, Nov 26 (IANS) German Chancellor Angela Merkel Tuesday warned that Europe could slide back into recession, media reported.
 
 
India, Nepal ink nine deals; Modi inaugurates trauma centre, bus service (Roundup)
Kathmandu, Nov 25 (IANS) Nepal's happiness "gives us joy", Prime Minister Narendra Modi said here Tuesday on his second visit to the Himalayan country in 100 days as both sides inked nine agreements, further cementing their close ties.
 
 
India, Nepal ink 10 deals; Modi inaugurates trauma centre, bus service (Intro Roundup)
Kathmandu, Nov 25 (IANS) Nepal's happiness "gives us joy", Prime Minister Narendra Modi said here Tuesday on his second visit to the Himalayan country in 100 days as both sides inked 10 agreements, including on $1 billion assistance to Nepal.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Mali confirms two new Ebola cases
United Nations, Nov 26 (IANS) Mali has confirmed two new cases of Ebola, bringing to total number of cases in the West African nation to eight, days ahead of the opening of a new UN Ebola response office. The UN...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Paris Hilton hugs cubs of big cats
Mexico, Nov 26 (IANS) Socialite Paris Hilton, who loves animals, was spotted cuddling lion and tiger cubs on her visit to a big cat sanctuary here. The 33-year-old couldn't resist sharing several videos and...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Don't Miss these Black Friday Deals and Sales
Black Friday 2014 will end in 4 days. The biggest release of deals is still to come, but there are already many Black Friday 2014 Sales underway. Thanksgiving Day mark will be the big launch day for online and in-store...
Read more on Black Friday Countdown
 
Taylor Swift cautious of fake friends
Taylor Swift has no time for fake friends. The 'Shake It Off' hitmaker says she's not interested in being friends with people who are only keen on spending time with her because she's rich and famous. She explained: ''...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Cyber Monday Deals better than Black Friday Deals?
Black Friday 2014 Sales are underway. We count over 12 Black Friday 2014 sales that either have fully launched or offer a selection of the advertised Black Friday deals. Each year there is discussion about if Black...
Read more on Black Friday Countdown
 
Shia LaBeouf abides by plea deal
Shia LaBeouf is abiding by the plea deal he reached with Manhattan prosecutors after his drunken meltdown in June. The 'Fury' actor appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court earlier today (25.11.14) to submit proof he's been...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
The Best Laptop Deal in Black Friday 2014
Black Friday 2014 is here and the first Black Friday 2014 Sales are already underway. The full push of Black Friday 2014 deals happens on Thanksgiving Day. So there is still a little time to make your shopping lists. If...
Read more on Black Friday Countdown
 
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini blasts Simon Cowell over weight comments
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini has blasted Simon Cowell for commenting on her weight. The 31-year-old beauty said it was ungentlemanly for a man in his 50s to suggest she'd gained weight prior to her brief appearance on the...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Nick Cannon denies links to Amber Rose
Nick Cannon has denied having any romance with Amber Rose. The 34-year-old entertainer recently separated from Mariah Carey, whom he married in 2008, and has since been romantically linked to Amber Rose, 31, who filed...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
The Best TV Deals on Black Friday
Black Friday is one of the best times to buy TVs. It is the best time to get your hands on bargain TV deals like a $79 32-inch TV or a $119 40-inch TV. You see such deals never during the year. You also do not see such...
Read more on TV Balla