Healthy Customers Equal Good Business

My Comments:healthcare reform Here we are at the beginning of 2015 and virtually all of us want to experience good news as opposed to bad news. I suspect we will have some of both as the next twelve months appear.

Among the good news I’d like to experience is a recognition by the new Congress that it is in our best interest as a nation to have as healthy and productive citizenry as possible. That makes it more possible for our way of life and message to the rest of the world that we legitimately set the standard for civilization.

I really don’t want to listen to a bunch of whiners bemoan the Affordable Care Act and attempt to tear it down without a corresponding effort to replace it with something that will achieve the same outcome. How does it help us if we go back to a health care delivery system like what was in place in 2006? At the time, annual increases in premiums for health insurance pretty much matched the increase in health care costs, close to 8% every year. Sooner, rather than later, THAT would bankrupt all of us. My hope is that their time and effort will be to fix the obvious flaws and make sure as many people as possible have health insurance.

By Mark Roberts / December 5, 2014

Remember the phrase, “The customer is always right?”

If you listen to customer service reps in many companies, or go to a restaurant or retail store, that status is fast disappearing. Gone are the days when consumers had free range to demand satisfaction as part of doing business. Some companies get it right, but many do not.

In health care, satisfying the customer is even more important. As a matter of fact, it’s downright critical to your success and the customer’s financial and physical survival. A critical effect of the dynamic changes continuing to take place in health care — such as The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — is the rise of consumerism and, most importantly, the role of patient experience. Patient experience not only impacts consumer perception, but also clinical efficacy, as reported by Executive Insight magazine.

According to HealthExecMobile, in 2013, only 11 percent of traditional-plan enrollees were “not too” or “not at all” satisfied with their health plan overall, compared with 19 percent of consumer-driven health plan enrollees and 22 percent of high deductible health plan enrollees,according to a recent study by The Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Who’s happier with their health plan — those in “traditional” managed care plans, or those in so-called “consumer-driven” and high-deductible plans? The latest data from the nonpartisan EBRI) show that the overall satisfaction rate among CDHP enrollees is gradually increasing, while it is gradually decreasing among traditional enrollees.

Earlier this year, a study showed concerns over not having enough health coverage are driving down plan member satisfaction with health plans across the country, according to a survey by J.D. Power & Associates. According to the research firm’s survey of some 34,000 consumers, 41 percent of existing health plan members said they feel they don’t have enough coverage for routine visits, serious illness or injury, health and wellness programs, routine diagnostics and drug coverage.

The annual study measures satisfaction among members of 136 health plans in 18 regions throughout the United States by examining six key factors: coverage and benefits, provider choice, information and communication, claims processing, cost, and customer service.

Also driving down satisfaction, unsurprisingly, is health care costs. The study found that 55 percent of members indicate having experienced an increase in costs in 2013, which negatively impacts cost satisfaction. The average monthly premium paid in 2013 is $285. Additionally, the survey found that 35 percent of members said they received a notice of changes in their coverage, networks or rates from their health plan in the past 12 months.

J.D. Power’s study said that there are simple things to be done to improve satisfaction from plan members. Among them is timely communication and services — such as wellness programs — that increase member engagement. “Health plans must look for ways to promptly communicate both pre-approvals and cost in order to minimize member anxiety and mitigate concerns about access to care, ultimately increasing customer satisfaction.”

Medicare Advantage plans have an even tougher standard for customer satisfaction. HealthPocket, a free website that compares and ranks health insurance plans, studied several major customer service categories tracked by the government: overall call center customer service, dropped calls, on-hold time and accuracy of information received.

HealthPocket found, overall, more than 15 percent of the Medicare Advantage companies examined failed to meet the government standards for customer service through a call center. In this market, bad ratings mean less money. Not good for those who didn’t pass the test.

According to Executive Insight magazine, the more their experience elicits their desired emotions, the more patients value the experience and the more engaged they become. Yes, patients are consumers, and they know it, up to a point. Patients exchange money for services, and they want their money’s worth. But healthcare is much more than a financial transaction. It’s also highly emotional. And engaged patients have a better experience because it is psychologically and emotionally gratifying.

New analysis finds that carriers have hit a 10-year low in consumer satisfaction, and are the fourth least-liked industry, ranking…

It’s also important to understand that the impact of a patients’ visit doesn’t end when they walk out the door. The type of experience a patient has can also impact the decisions of their friends and family. On average, patients who are satisfied tell three other people about their positive experience while those who are dissatisfied tell up to 25 people. And, social media has multiplied this effect; instead of telling a handful of people about a bad experience, patients can now tell an ever-growing network with the click of a mouse.

A recent survey of more than 1,000 people found that about a third of consumers rely on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, for gathering or sharing medical information. Of that one-third, 41 percent said that social media influence decisions about their choice of a specific hospital, medical facility or physician, according to Lou Carbone, founder, president and chief experience officer of Experiencing Engineering.

Now that you know that your health care customer, insurance consumer, patient or employee are incredibly adept at complaining when things go wrong, it’s up to you as the primary decision maker to not ignore problems when they develop. And, you should work hard to prevent issues that are bound to develop if you don’t pay attention to the details of good customer satisfaction.

People like to complain when things don’t go according to their expectations. Once in a while you may get an “Atta Boy” if someone thinks you got it right. Although it’s virtually impossible to make everyone happy in health care, the best way to stay in front of the wolves is to make sure that you don’t give them cause to chase you. Customer satisfaction is healthy business.

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