The airline experience has been frontpage news recently for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps you remember these stories:

  • May 2017 – Brian Schear and his family were all booted off a flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles after he refused to give up a seat he was reserving for their 2-year-old son.
  • April 2017 – Kima Hamilton was booted of the plane for using the restroom while the plane was delayed a half an hour on the tarmac
  • April 2017 – Who could forget David Dao being dragged out of his seat, down the aisle, having his nose and pride broken along the way?

These are just some of the stories that we have heard about. It is the everyday experiential problems that are plaguing the airline industry. The question becomes how can these airline experience problems help improve the patient experience. Christopher Kennedy, COO of Heritage Biologics, wrote a poignant piece correlating a delay in air travel to issues with the patient experience. “Like at the airport, many patients check-in (to hospital, physician office, etc.) with expectations of a certain result (surgical intervention, therapy, etc.) only to leave too often with a sub-optimal outcome,” writes Christopher. Let’s dig a little deeper into some common crossover issues between the airline experience and the patient experience.

  1. Wait time – In Christopher’s case, a delay in flight caused him to be late to pick up his young children for school. When he voiced his concern, he was met with an apathetic response from the airline staff. When we have wait time issues with care, we need to be cognizant of how that wait time is affecting the patient. Maybe that patient is like Christopher and needs to pick up their child or maybe they only have a small time window to get back to work. There could be any number of life situations that we are delaying. However, wait times are a product of many different factors sometime out of our control. Being respectful and empathic to a patient’s concern about the wait time may not make the wait go faster, but it can have a positive impact on the patient experience.
  2. Feedback – One of Christopher’s pain points was there was no way to provide feedback. He also felt that if he provided feedback that the airline was not going to use that feedback to improve the customer journey. When you look at your organization, how are you incorporating feedback from your patients to improve their journey? Are you measuring the metrics that matter most to you organizationally or the ones that come from the voice of the patient? In Christopher’s case, he is never flying that airline again. In your case, that patient may never come back to see you again.
  3. Social Reputation – In this day and age, everyone is listening. Everyone has a super-computer equipped with a camera in their pocket. In the case of the three travelers above, every experience was videotaped with a smart phone and given to a media outlet. Christopher chose to write about his experience as a learning lesson, without naming the carrier. Once a patient leaves our office and take to social media, Google, Yelp or some other forum, that negative experience is out there for the world to see and the damage is done.
  4. Consumerism – When we look at the buying experience, this is where the expectations are set. Air travel has all these metadata search sites that allow consumers to shop for any convenience criteria like time or price. By the time you purchase your flight, you have an expectation that the flight you purchased is the best flight you possibly could have. This kind of online consumerism is here today in healthcare. Patients can find providers by outcomes at sites like PhysicianCompare or HospitalCompare. Pricing transparency is now the law and organizations like Healthcare Bluebook can tell a patient if they are paying a fair price. With all these search tools at a patient’s fingertips, any experience problem is going to be amplified. If a patient does all this research and does not get the outcome they expected, then that patient is probably never coming back to your organization again.

At Care Experience, we are monitoring these trends. Our Next Decade of Innovation in the Patient Experience looks deeper into factors like pricing transparency and consumerism that are affecting the patient experience. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, please download our free eBook on pricing transparency.

Download free eBook, The Next Decade of Innovation in the Patient Experience: Pricing Transparency below