Healthcare service customers of the 21st century are substantially unique compared to the customers of the 80s. They think differently. In this blog, I will take a short trip 🏄 inside their brain 🧠. I hope you will enjoy 🙂 the journey and learn some useful facts about their psychology.

Challenges in the 21st Century

Healthcare or hospital service industry of the 21st century is facing a different challenge. Despite calculated efforts, customers (patients and their attendants) will not always perceive your hospital as you wish. Patient or their attendants don’t behave or react exactly how you expect they will, but don’t give up because of this unpredictability. Accept it as part of the challenge and frequently monitor what customers are experiencing.

Who is a Customer?

In the hospital and healthcare service industry context, a customer is an actual or potential patient including their attendants, family members or caregivers. As a hospital manager, or healthcare service professional, here are some interesting perspective you might consider while defining a customer for your hospital.

  • A customer is the most important entity in the hospital … In person or… by mail.
  • A customer is not dependent on the hospital …The hospital is dependent on him/her.
  • A customer is not an interruption of our work… S/He is the purpose of it.
  • We are not doing a favour by serving him/her … S/He is doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to do so.
  • A customer is not someone to argue or match wits with. Nobody ever won an argument with a customer.
  • A customer is one who brings us his wants; it is our job to handle them profitably for him and for ourselves.

Understanding the Psychology of Healthcare Customers

Healthcare customers in the 21st century share several common characteristics that require attention and appropriate policy intervention for delivering elegant healthcare services.

Highly Knowledgeable

The cliché Leave it to the doctor” seems to be no longer true always. Today’s customers, even in health-related issues, want to make their own decisions. The patient and the patient attendants want to know the disease profile, the methodology of the treatment to be given, the medicines administered and the side effects entailed.

A hospital manager, doctor, or healthcare service professional should realise, that everything is “Google Away“. From cold to corona, a customer might get sufficient information to educate himself. He might challenge you at any point.

black samsung tablet display google browser on screen
Photo by PhotoMIX Company on Pexels.com

Value Seeking

The consumer of health care services is demanding more value addition and wants to reduce his/her risk by dealing with trustworthy companies, services and products. He/she requires immediate attention and service. He/she has become more demanding and is not willing to adjust. The expectations have risen very high. The voicing of customer dissatisfactions and opinions has increased considerably. There is not only high quality of service expected from the service providers from the medical fraternity but also from service providers from the non-medical areas.

Cost Consciousness & Distrust

The consumer today attaches great importance to the component of ‘cost’ in the treatment. They often do their homework. Before taking a major decision, they do price comparisons on various packages or offers. Many times there remains a feeling in the minds of the customer that the hospital takes advantage of their fragile condition and charges far more. This feeling becomes intensified when paying bills. Customers have a lot of doubt about the payment structure, and they eventually feel victimised and cheated. They do indulge in clarification of doubts.

Quality

Not necessarily all customers are cost conscious. There is a different customer segment that actively seeks quality over price. Undoubtedly, “clinical outcome” is the prime quality indicator in the healthcare service industry. However, it is not enough. Quality-conscious customers consider some other factors that include but are not limited to a clean environment, availability of the latest technology, skill and behavioural aspects of the service personnel (doctors, nurses, housekeeping service, and ward boys), waiting time, and responsiveness to urgency.

Reference

Harvard Business Review. (2011). Management Tips. Harvard Business Press.
Srinivasan, A. V. (2008). Managing a Modern Hospital. SAGE Publications India.

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