How much will you pay for life threatening surgery?
Compare this to – How much will you pay for a cola?
Just asking these questions in the same breath sounds absurd, the perception benefit in case of the surgery is so high that you will pay almost anything were you to get better after the surgery, while you may be willing to forego the soft-drink were it to get too expensive.
The perception of value in most product categories is either driven by cost of comparable products or perceived benefits from ownership. In healthcare our perception of value is largely colored by our emotions.
So will you pay more to be treated by a doctor who is perceived to be the best ? – probably. However if you do get the surgery done at a hospital where this doctor is available and you are treated badly – the value perception will be the reverse. Suddenly, as you start getting better expensive private hospitals, bad doctors, uncaring nurses and wrong billing begin to take prominence.
In healthcare just as in hospitality business service drives customer perception. As service is prone to be non standard and variable, any slip up – perceived or genuine is viewed by the customer with trepidation. More so in healthcare where the customer perceives his/ her well-being at risk. Emotions run high not just of the patients but attendants as well and you can easily have a surfeit of dissatisfied customers.
Here are some things that I believe drive value perceptions in healthcare:
Transparency – Consumers increasingly want to know more about their bodies and things that impact them. Many times customers read up on their diseases and can have intelligent conversations on how a course of treatment will impact them. Respect your patients concern. Your fee – high or low – will then be inconsequential as your patients will build up trust in you and the hospital/ nursing home you represent.
Personalisation – Consumers are increasingly looking for products and services that align with their specific personal needs and preferences – whether in the decision that involves a health check-up or a hospital room. Going the extra mile to make sure your customers have the right meal, attendants are taken care of – may not be part of hospital practices – but this extra personal attention is never wasted.
Simplicity – Simplicity will have growing value for consumers confronted with information overload, time stress, and technological complexity. Simple processes of admission and discharge, customer pathways and billing are always well appreciated and drive up customer perception of caring and trust.
Assistance – As consumers are bombarded with more tasks, choices, and information, the stress of illness can make a hospital stay truly traumatic. At this stage customers need a human interface to assist and communicate with. Helpful signage and caring staff can make all the difference.
Appropriateness – Health products and services will need to embrace the principle of appropriateness to ensure that they are suitably communicated. The same communication may need to be tailored to users with varying physical needs, resources, cultural characteristics, literacy levels, etc. Example – Suggesting a baby care program to a new mother is both appropriate and welcomed.
Connectedness – If you are well connected with your customers you can give them what they want, when they want it, and will help your healthcare business grow exponentially if you have the right customer information infrastructure. Consumers are increasingly looking for products and services that seamlessly integrate with their network and are personalised to their needs.
Protection – Consumers are looking for products and services that strengthen their sense of personal security and protect their families, homes, wealth, and privacy. Linkages with Insurance providers that make your customers transactions easier will be welcomed.