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How hospitals can survive the age of the customer

October 3rd, 2012

by Doug Della Pietra

Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine, in their book "Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business," describe a world that has crossed over from the age of information (1990-2010) into the age of the customer.

In this new age, hospital impact will be characterized not by products and/or services but by the overall experience (needs met, ease, and enjoyment) that patients and their families have with your organization.

Healthcare delivery in the United States has not yet evolved into the customer-centric - "3D" - experience described by Bill Self in "Customer 3D: A New Dimension for Customers."

Too often healthcare is driven first by the needs of the hospital, insurers, physicians, nurses, and departments than by the patient and family experience.


Enter Tony DiGioia, M.D., founder and medical director of The Orthopaedic Program at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC and the PFCC Partners at The Innovation Center of UPMC, which are perfecting a way for this new age!

The patient- and family-centric care (PFCC) methodology and practice employed by UPMC has achieved transformational patient, caregiver, and organizational results: improved patient satisfaction, patient safety and clinical outcomes; reduced staff turnover; improved caregiver satisfaction; and led to new organizational efficiencies and cost savings.

As DiGioia explains, the key to "delivering exceptional care experiences to everyone, all the time," requires caregivers to "view all care experiences through the eyes of the patients and families." At its core, the PFCC philosophy is about creating a care delivery system that focuses "all resources on patients and families rather than the needs of doctors, insurance companies, or nurses, or hospitals, or departments."

Like UPMC, the new (reformed) hospital in this age of the customer will positively impact healthcare delivery and differentiate itself by deliberately designing and delivering consistently exceptional patient and family experiences across the continuum of care.

The key to this design and delivery is fostering a patient- and family-centric culture and approach: viewing the care experience through the eyes of patients and their families and refocusing existing resources first on their needs and desires before those of the hospital, doctors, nurses and departments.

Doug Della Pietra is the director of Customer Services and Volunteers for Rochester General Hospital in New York, where he co-chairs the hospital's Patient Experience Team, in addition to responsibilities for an intentionally-designed patient- and family-centered volunteer program and front-line First & Last Impression initiatives. Follow Doug @DougDellaPietra on Twitter.


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