What is the Value in a Positive Patient Experience?
In earlier generations, healthcare providers were prohibited from advertising their services. Word of Mouth was considered the sole marketing tool that would drive a healthcare practice. As we enter 2018, physicians have utilized hundreds of marketing/advertising resources. However, one thing has not changed much over time, and that is the value of word-of-mouth marketing. This just happens to take multiple forms these days! One of the most popular sources of word-of-mouth marketing in this information age, is front and center on online review sites.
Let’s take a quick step back and see how we all use these forums for other areas in life following a positive (or negative) experience with a variety of services:
80 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.1
More than three-quarters (77 percent) of patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor.2
Nearly half of respondents (47 percent) would go out-of-network for a doctor who has similar qualifications to an in-network doctor, but has more favorable reviews.2
53 percent of providers looked at physician review websites, likely to understand their patients’ experiences and to improve their practices.3
Even healthcare literature has published on the popularity and effectiveness in these online patient review outlets. A recent study evaluated 17,000 Yelp reviews of 1352 hospitals using that natural language processing tools and showed that they revealed information similar to that covered by 7 of the 11 categories of patient satisfaction included in the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey (HCAHPS), along with 12 categories not included in the HCAHPS, such as costs, billing, and scheduling.4
So, what is the value in a positive patient experience? In this booming area of online patient reporting of their experiences, these positive patient experiences are invaluable! As more patients contribute their experiences on the same review sites they utilized, this transparency has become monumental in patients seeking out providers and those reflecting on their experiences with their provider. These familiar and free platforms generate an impressive amount of feedback data, and patients are well aware of the impact sharing their experience.
Healthcare has definitely shifted into a more consumer-driven space. This trend will continue over the next few years under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) have their performance scores published on the CMS Physician Compare website. The prevalence of high-deductible health plans has resulted in more patients paying for healthcare out of their pocket and subsequently, more conscious of the value they receive for what they pay. There are now many many avenues that a patient can take to research their provider’s services: bedside manner, ease of booking an appointment, friendly staff, waiting room times, etc... So yes, the value in a positive patient experience is now greater than it has ever been.
4Ranard BL, Werner RM, Antanavicius T, et al. Yelp reviews of hospital care can supplement and inform traditional surveys of the patient experience of care. Health Aff (Millwood)2016;35:697-705