Declining inpatient projections, future health status and patient satisfaction...a three-legged stool or a three-headed monster?
Kerry Shannon provides insight into three critical issues pressuring the healthcare industry.
How can the industry improve patient health status?
The way to improve health status is through education and trust. The provider/patient relationship is going to be the key to health status in the future.
Health systems must find a way to bridge the trust gap. Patients need to feel that the provider is looking out for them, not just trying to drive expenses up or costs down. Let’s face it, patients are largely skeptical of their healthcare providers and the convergence of providers and payers will exacerbate this skepticism. For health status to improve, patients must take responsibility and trust both the provider and the advice given.
How can providers bridge the trust gap?
While each situation is different, providers must first understand their population in order to tailor specific tactics for their patients. For example, the patient in rural Missouri is radically different than the urban Chicago patient. Their access to communication technology alone sets these two patients apart.
Understanding patient expectations and formulating specifically targeted communications strategies are the keys to bridging the trust gap and building healthy relationships with patients. Obviously, one challenge for the providers is doing this in a cost effective manner.
How can a system develop a relationship with a patient?
First, you have to accept the idea that the relationship doesn’t have to be with an individual provider; it can be with the entire provider system. In fact, the provider should want the relationship to be with the system, not a specific person. Otherwise, what happens to the patient when the person owning the relationship leaves the system?
Consumers have relationships with systems all the time. We call them brands. The packaged goods and retail industries are built on relationships with high-valued customers. This dynamic is magnified in healthcare because there is nothing more personal than your health.
Providers should take a systemic, cultural approach to building trust with patients. It doesn’t matter if the patient interaction is with a doctor, nurse or administrative professional -- the experience can either work to build or destroy the relationship.
The key to improving health status is for patients and providers to work together as a team. And, it’s up to providers to make the first move.