Want to improve your health outcomes? Invite a business professional to visit and vice versa.
Health care involves clients, or customers just the same as businesses
In improving health care outcomes it is important to understand the role of better-educated clients interacting with more responsive health care teams. However, realising the benefits of health education also requires a high level of engagement which is not always evident.
There are gaps between expectations and the actual performance of behaviours related to participation in health care and prevention. Just as in business we need to improve the ‘customer experience’ in order to improve self-care and patient satisfaction along with coping skills, and perceptions of social support.
Significant health benefits have been seen from trials of self-management or lifestyle interventions across conditions such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, and cancers. Unfortunately, the focus of many studies has been on short-term outcomes rather that long-term effects. There is also some evidence that participation in patient education programs is not spread evenly across
There is also some evidence that participation in patient education programs is not spread evenly across socio-economic groups. Just as in business there are important considerations in performance improvement:
- Health literacy, which is the capacity to seek, understand and act on health information. Although health literacy involves an individual’s competencies, the health system has a primary responsibility in the delivery of health information and knowledge.
- Engagement of people in health programs is just as critical as it is in engaging business people in business programs. Nothing happens until people are engaged.
- Modern marketing methods need to be adopted in health and business. Use of social media, content marketing and cloud systems all play a role in engaging and educating.
- Access and the education environment must also be taken into consideration.
- Continuous monitoring and review with good analytics provide for continuous improvements.
Scenarios are often similar
Imagine your own experience in this scenario. You phone a taxi. You’re picked up 15 minutes late by a bad-tempered driver, who takes you to your doctor’s appointment at a nearby hospital.
Once there, you have no idea where to go. Eventually, you’re greeted by a line and handed a clipboard of paperwork to sign by an unhelpful person and told to wait in line. An hour after your scheduled appointment, you get to see your doctor for a few minutes.
We all know the healthcare system has problems with an ecosystem that is seen as bureaucratic and domineering customer environment, that is seemingly uninterested in your problems.
Even though the ecosystem is overflowing with an abundance of ideas and opportunities, a great deal of negativity and distrust prevails and the people in this ecosystem continue to be self-serving. This leads many to believe that any real innovation is not possible, certainly not like the wonderful breakthroughs in the health and medical research domains.
The one thing that is common to success across all sections of the community is working to their strengths. Each sector will have particular strengths some of which are developed, some of which are dormant. All require a catalyst in order to further develop their strengths and to leverage them in order to enhance the community.
Every sector in every community needs to create new conversations, that will lead to better relationships, better health and better businesses as well as nicer places in which to live.
Possibility thinking is not in abundance
The health care system, which involves numerous payers and providers, is complex and continues to evolve, but so it is a business. It is suggested that improving quality in our health care system requires better care coordination and improving its delivery, and that is a matter of concern for every business if they are to survive and thrive.
Just as there is in business, non-profit organisations and communities, the status quo is rarely challenged and simple improvements take years to introduce. However, when health care organisations and businesses work together possibilities start to emerge for all concerned.
“We’ll never be able to improve our customer service or customer experience, we’re doing the best we can. Costs will remain high, and access to quality customer care will remain out of reach for people living in rural and remote areas”. Sound familiar?
In truth, innovation in health care is happening at an exponential rate and much faster than most people realise. So is innovation in business, the non-profit sector and in some communities. So what’s the problem in your community?
There is a universal need for better customer services
While progress seems slow, such as the effort to streamline electronic records, or to correct billing mistakes, yet the technologies to improve the customer experience are advancing at breakneck speed.
In a decade from now, we’ll look back and wonder why anyone went to a pharmacy to pick up a prescription, instead of just 3-D printing pills at home. We’ll wonder how we could allow patients to die while waiting on the organ transplant list when the technology to grow organs in a lab was within our reach.
In a decade from now, we will wonder why anyone ever went to a business to pick up a purchase when it can be delivered more quickly to the door. We will wonder what we ever did without the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data when it came to understanding our customer’s problems, frustrations, wants and needs.
With the advent of the Internet and advances in computing power, other major industries are completely re-invented themselves to become more efficient and customer-friendly. In reality, different segments of the ecosystem are reacting to the basics of customer service.
This is why innovation is happening both much faster and much slower than anyone realises.
“Arguably the most important job in any industry is to understand how the customer wants to be treated, and then make sure we have a great customer experience”. Peter Sergeant
So what can you do, how do we make a start?
Many will argue that everything is different in their industry or market segment. Everyone thinks their industry is more complex, or they are underfunded to do any real innovation.
However, in reality, every industry is dealing with the same types of people both in their organisations or communities and external to them and this gives us a good starting point.
Why not call a meeting in your community of the businesses and non-profit organisations with the sole purpose of increasing the level of customer service across all sectors in the community.
If we let go of the past and do things differently together, things will improve.
Take a look at each organisation and document just what it is that they have initiated to improve their customer service. Everyone will have something to offer and once everyone realises that ‘ships rise on the rising tide’, and if they cooperate to compete everyone will start some sort of innovation program and everyone wins.
Health innovation and business innovation focused in the first instance on the customer will have great benefits not only to the patients and customers but to the whole community.
While there are third party players, such as the governments, which can influence funding, pricing and policies, they can’t dictate to us how we manage our customer experience.
Technology advances while causing many disruptions are helping us all to improve our customer services and the customer experience. By working with each other and standardising on the best technologies to use in your community, efficiency will be improved and money will be saved.
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The customer interface in every organisation is invaluable for getting to the bottom of what is missing at work for employees and what an organisation can be doing to better support, equip and engage with them and the community in improving the general level of health and well-being.
By bringing businesses and non-profits together we can mix up all the best ingredients for building better communities. The more we mix up the ingredients, the more innovation we can expect to achieve.
In bringing about the outcomes you want, consider the assets you community has along with the assets of the health and business sectors and start to apply entrepreneurial thinking. It is the entrepreneurial approach that will have the biggest impact. It’s not about what is wrong in the community it’s about working with the community strengths, visioning what is possible, joining up the dots and becoming action orientated.