A constant frustration in hospitals is how consumers define “quality care.” When you talk with caregivers, they believe their focus should be on clinical issues. After all, a patient enters a hospital for treatment, right?
While I can’t disagree with caregivers’ priority here, I also know it isn’t that simple when dealing with consumers – if you want them to come back.
In our recent Pulse360 survey, we asked insured women across the Southeast what the term “high quality care” in a hospital meant to them. In the open-ended question, 18 percent defined high quality care as courteous, personable doctors and staff while 8.4 percent said accurate care and diagnosis. That’s over twice as many choosing the softer side of care.
Another 13.2 percent defined high quality care as state of the art technology and cleanliness.
To probe further, we asked them to choose between specific statements in defining “high quality care.” 28.3 percent still chose personal interactions over correct diagnosis and treatment.
We’ve seen this same response in other research we’ve conducted, even in the ER. When consumers talk about quality ER care, they talk about their desire for better communication and feeling that they are important to ER staff.
Why would anyone choose personal care over competent care? It’s obviously not because they don’t want the competent care. I think it’s because of two things: one, they expect the correct care – after all, that is why they go to the hospital. But, they expect competent clinical care anywhere they go, otherwise, they wouldn’t go. And anyway, how does a patient really know that she is getting competent care at the time of treatment?
Secondly, they easily understand how to judge personal care. They see it every day, everywhere they go. Why wouldn’t they expect the same personal and courteous attention at their hospital that they find at Disney or Nordstrom?
That’s how they are conditioned. And, that’s how we’ve got to connect with them.