For many people faced with serious illness, securing high-quality health care is a top priority, trumping cost and location. So, how can health care providers deliver this quality care locally and with a reasonable price tag?
This is the question that executives from Virtua, the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP) and PennMedicine sought to answer Dec. 16 during “Delivering Value in Health Care: Why this is Critical for Your Business & Employees,” an event sponsored exclusively by Virtua and hosted by the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey (CCSNJ). Featuring CEOs Richard P. Miller (Virtua), Madeline Bell (CHOP) and Ralph W. Muller (PennMedicine), the speakers pinpointed several critical facets of quality health care, including cost, accessibility, culture and consistency.
According to the panel, the structure of the health care industry is shifting toward that of most consumer industries: with the explosive costs of medical care and the rising amount of time working with patients suffering from chronic illness, consumers will begin to research and make independent decisions about health care products. These consumer decisions are based on each patient’s individual needs; the desire to build strong relationships with physicians, nurses and staff for those with chronic conditions; proximity to their homes and the affordability of those products. The challenge and opportunity presented to providers, then, is to conceptualize, develop and execute a brand that continually meets the requirements of consumers while maintaining realistic price points and fostering loyalty.
Similarly, health care providers must focus on accessibility. Younger generations seek medical care that is not only affordable, but also convenient, quick and nine-to-five-friendly. By partnering, Virtua, CHOP and PennMedicine are able to combine each provider’s care locally, allowing Southern New Jersey residents to receive top-tier medical attention from CHOP and PennMedicine specialists at Virtua locations nestled in their own backyards.
Affordability and accessibility are not the only factors for health care providers to consider, however. Venturing even deeper into the facets of a positive customer experience, providers must develop a culture that spans across several generations of patients. The panelists agreed that technology—mobile technology, especially—is changing the way care is provided as well as improving the overall quality of that care. While adaptation is a challenge for providers, millennials respond to the ease of finding physicians and scheduling appointments. Similarly, older patients taking multiple medications can benefit from daily reminders, some of which are incentivized. Additionally, all ages can benefit from the education provided by technology, including advice on nutrition, fitness and overall health.
|While integrating technology into health care may become a major focus for providers moving forward, the panelists also emphasized the importance of the human experience. Bell referred to this notion as “hi-tech, high-touch,” meaning that—while providers see the benefits of using mobile applications in health care—using technology alone to care for patients is not sufficient. Bell noted that making eye contact, smiling and hand-holding (i.e. good interpersonal skills) are also critical to create a positive patient experience and, ultimately, build consumer loyalty.
Finally, when providers have developed and implemented this holistic approach to care, it is critical to be consistent.
The panelists suggested that even one poor experience could lead to thousands of negative impressions if that patient expresses his or her discontent to friends, family and online contacts. With thousands of employees working within their ranks, health care providers must find a way to optimize training and emphasize the importance of creating a consistently positive experience for consumers.
With mounting pressure on health care providers to adapt to today’s consumer landscape, strong partnerships such as those between Virtua, CHOP and PennMedicine allow patients to receive top-notch care from expert physicians with familiar faces at locations that are close to home.
Specializing in newborn and infant care, Virtua and CHOP pooled their resources and formed partnerships at both Virtua Voorhees Hospital in Voorhees, NJ, and the Pediatric Pavilion in Mount Holly, NJ, to deliver the highest quality early childhood care to South Jersey residents. Similarly, Virtua and PennMedicine have joined forces to provide the best care in oncology with neuroscience and neurosurgery on the horizon for South Jersey.
“My blessing is to wake up every day and say, ‘We’re going to help somebody; we’re going to change someone’s life today,’” Miller said. “Not everyone has that opportunity.”
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