Are you optimistic about the patient experience improvements we’re seeing in healthcare? I am. I see so many positive changes happening out there that I can’t help but feel optimistic. Yet every now and then, I find myself jolted awake to find that there is still quite a bit of work to be done. I recently had one of those reality checks. It happened after I had posted an article online where I used the term customer. A reader (a health professional) commented that she’s concerned that healthcare is starting to act too much like a business because of the recent focus on customer service. She went on to say that her patients want competent care and that we should listen to this more. Huh? At risk of sounding rude, I’ll admit that my first thought was, “Duh.” Of course your patients want competent, skilled care. That is a given. But don’t they want compassionate, empathetic interactions as well? The two are not, and have never been, mutually exclusive.
The other eye opener is the reader’s comment that healthcare is acting like a business. It is a business. A big, complex business whose customers frequently have lots of choices. And if we can’t figure out how to give those customers both competent and compassionate care, they will take their business elsewhere.
I’m blown away that in 2014 we’re still having this conversation about customer versus patient and clinical competence versus customer service. Are we there yet? I’m afraid we have a ways to go. For now, the patient experience is still getting stalled with mutually exclusive thinking. Our patients deserve both and I know we’re up to delivering it!