Starbucks patient experience?

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Starbucks is well noted for its consistent customer experience. You can be pretty confident of the experience you are going to get at a Starbucks no matter where you are. I am just as confident holding an impromptu business meeting there as I am suggesting it as a place to meet socially. It really has become part of my extended address between work and home. Starbucks serves more than 5 million customers a day and 15% are doing their transactions by mobile. They obviously are a global brand with more than 19,000 stores in 65 different countries. However the focus on complete customer experience from start to finish is what makes this coffee giant so consistent and so popular.

Now let us turn for a change to making a hospital appointment and visit to a health system. One of the health system CxO in one of the meetings laid out a list of patient complaints. The list included items like clinic not returning phone calls to schedule an appointment, a patient walking out of the hospital because the doctor never came to the exam room, and a patient’s claim that money disappeared from his wallet during a transfer to things like alleged medical errors, misdiagnoses and inappropriate staff conduct.

Agreed, a health system is not a coffee shop. But is it so difficult to get a consistent, pleasant and streamlined patient experience in a health system? Are there ways that we can change this for better? The good news is there are various initiatives within several health systems across the US and globally to have a much better patient experience.(Disclaimer: As part of my current role for my organization, I am involved in various patient engagement/experience informatics initiatives).

The rise of mobile and wearable technology is changing the customer/patient experience landscape. These new channels provides tremendous opportunities to the newly appointment “Patient Engagement/Experience officers” in the health system to look at patient experience in a whole new way. Ability to effectively use the appropriate applications and tools combined with improved process efficiency can certainly bring improved patient experience for the health system.

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Imagine a zeroUI inspired mobility application for appointment scheduling which allows patients to book their appointment with the health system in less than a min. A nicely designed task oriented scheduling app can therefore be used by patients who are not technology literate (Remember: iPhone and its ability to be embraced by everyone who was not tech-savvy). Or a wearable band for inpatients, which, not only automatically tracks all the vitals but provides medication reminders, patient tracking, alerts and notifications and even ability to push important notifications from friends and family. How about a small chip enabled smart card instead of a plain insurance card, which not only captures insurance information but can seamlessly transfer patient demographics, insurance details, past medication information etc. as soon as you hand this over to the reception desk in a secure, compliant and protected manner. The possibilities are endless and I would welcome the readers to share their thoughts around this and I am sure it would be an interesting conversation.

A visit to a health system is a much important event than visiting a coffee shop. Depending upon the situation, a visit to a health system might not always be pleasant particularly if either we or some of our loved ones are in pain. Having a better patient experience is therefore relatively much more important. The increase in technology innovations combined with health systems zeal for change provides a perfect opportunity.

What do the readers think? Are we close to making a hospital visit as pleasant an experience as visiting a Starbucks? The article could go several pages, but thought might be useful to make this interactive and so keep your thoughts coming.

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