What matters most in your healthcare customer experience?


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Technology is becoming pervasive in all arenas of our lives. Hundreds of millions of IoT devices already supply real time data on all kinds of things and our behaviors. Beyond passively transmitting data, IoT devices provide alerts and serve as control points in critical feedback loops. One area where IoT technology is exploding is healthcare. Every device imaginable connects to create a massive patient database for personal care. Does it improve your customer experience in healthcare? What are critical success factors that “customers” deem important?

Why this is important: IoT technology enables more information more rapidly. More data does not guarantee quality or customer focus. Customers remember how they felt about their experiences where staff engaged to help.

A trip to a hospital ER is the most personal of all customer experiences

I certainly did not plan on a hospital stay in order to study IoT and technology in the healthcare industry. This summer I was one of the unfortunate few that managed to ingest a bristle from a wire brush used to clean barbeque grills. The bristle punctured my intestine and literally shut down most internal systems. Beyond intense pain, there is an acute danger of toxic shock and even death. IF you or anyone you know uses wire brushes to clean BQ grills, dispose of these brushes immediately!

My surgery and recovery was a fascinating journey into the state of IoT in the healthcare industry. From the moment they put on your scanning ID bracelet, there are a myriad of devices designed to check and monitor everything about you, and the staff interacting with you. This interconnected IoT network was way beyond anything I have seen in retail stores.

Customer experience in any arena is a journey with many touchpoints

Even when an emergency event triggers a hospital stay, the experience is a journey from admission, to treatment, to dismissal, to post hospital follow up. Each of these touchpoints in healthcare requires an incredible amount of information, documentation and ongoing data. In addition, each stage involves engagement with multiple staff who work in different departments and areas.

When there are customer experience “failures” in healthcare they are highly noticeable, highly personal, and can even be life threatening. The following examples of “fails” are from family experiences, and highlight what can, and is still happening even in the age of IoT.

  • Admissions process can take an hour or longer, even for “emergencies”
  • Staff come back to recollect information already provided when patient was admitted
  • Despite the digital bracelet and IoT logging, staff bring the wrong medications
  • Despite IoT and monitoring, therapy or needed scans are delayed or missed entirely
  • The wrong patient in the room was prepped for dismissal (yes this happened to me!)
  • The dismissal process takes multiple hours and requires many signatures
  • The patient never hears from the hospital again until they start getting the bills

Every hospital had the integrated IoT data and monitoring, which should have prevented these mistakes, as well as freed up staff to deliver more personalized care.

Negative experiences matter and impact customer choice in health care

The pain I experienced when the BBQ brush bristle punctured my intestine is indescribable. We live in the countryside, so the drive to the closest hospital ER was about 20 minutes, versus other hospitals almost an hour away.

Based upon all the negative experiences and fails reported by family and friends about the closest hospital, my wife and children convinced me to tough it out in order to get to the hospital that gets best reviews for quality care. Yes, even in cases of emergency and severe pain, quality care reputation makes a difference!

Methodist Health – Hospitals with leadership and staff focused on the customer

In the case of an emergency, you do not shop for a hospital ER via reviews on your phone, but you do remember all of the stories about quality personal care from family and social media. Methodist Hospital stood out in all of the recommendations from my network.

As I reflect back on my ER and recovery, Methodist does a number of things very differently:

  • Leadership from the top down focused on “customers”. From the highest-level physicians through all levels of staff, everyone addresses you by name and asks what they can do to make your stay better.
  • Technology is a tool to make things easier for patients, and the nursing staff who serve them. Everyone has the same up to date information on their screen AND uses it before they enter your room.
  • The staff specifically train on how to use the technology to help patients. One nurse said that she went multiple training sessions focused on how to use the technology to improve care and increase quality time spent with patients.
  • Focus on customer relationships. Methodist processes are customer centric. Staff shift changes overlap to ensure continuity of care. The departing nurse personally introduces her replacement from the next shift to the patient.
  • Incredible focus on seamless process to improve the customer experience. Instead of waiting hours, Methodist’s use of technology coordinated all of the signoffs and approvals. I signed only one form and discharged in just 5 minutes.

No brand or organization is immune from competitors who create a better experience that customers can feel on a personal level.

“Power of People” makes all the difference – The Experience is personal

I have the deepest respect for all nursing staff that serve on the front lines! Methodist seems to recruit the very best talent who are not only technically competent, but also passionate about their “customers”. In my toughest moments, I had two incredible nurses who not only delivered superb medical care, but also personally encouraged me in my recovery.

How many of you have received a personal card after at home signed by your nurses?

I do not remember all of the details of my medical trauma. I do remember how the entire staff of Methodist made me feel during my stay … and how much confidence and support they gave me in recovery. They even personally followed up when I returned home.

A big shout out to Methodist Hospital Omaha for focusing on the customer and investing in the “Power of People”. You have earned your reputation for the highest quality care by focusing on your customers.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Chris Petersen, Ph.D.
Chris H. Petersen, PhD, CEO of Integrated Marketing Solutions is a strategic consultant who specializes in retail, leadership, marketing, and measurement. He has built a legacy through working with Fortune 500 companies to achieve measurable results in improving their performance and partnerships. Chris is the founder of IMS Retail University, a series of strategic workshops focusing on the critical elements of competing profitably in the increasingly complex retail marketplace.


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