The following is a guest blog post by Laura Alabed-Olsson, Marketing Manager of Stericycle Communication Solutions, as part of the Communication Solutions Series of blog posts. Follow and engage with them on Twitter:@StericycleComms
Whether I’m visiting my favorite restaurant, online shopping from the couch, or navigating airport security (grrrr), for me, consistency counts. In fact, it’s amazing how even the most daunting of tasks can seem more manageable when I know exactly what to expect.
Research shows that I’m not alone in my preference for predictability and familiarity, especially as it relates to consumerism. A 2014 study of 27,000 American consumers by McKinsey & Company found that a consistent customer experience across the entire customer journey increases satisfaction, builds trust and boosts loyalty. Similarly, a 2015 study by King Brown Partners found that 80% of people agree that consistent consumer experiences strongly impact brand perception.
You may be wondering what all of this has to do with healthcare. Do your patients (and prospective patients) really think about shopping for a TV and shopping for healthcare in the same way? In this world of high-deductible health plans, narrow networks and walk-in clinics on every corner, yes.
- 92% of consumers want more control over their personal health. 
- 52% report searching online for health or care-related information. 
- 91% say they are loyal to their doctor, yet 44% may change for a more convenient location and 33% may change for a lower cost. 
- 67% say the overall patient experience plays an extremely important role in their decision-making process. 
The consumer mindset has clearly taken root in healthcare. While slashing prices or relocating to a more convenient location likely isn’t possible, thankfully, there are simple things providers can do now to deliver a consistent, consumer-centric experience that gets and keep patients.
- Ensure customer satisfaction during each and every encounter – and across all channels. This means having staff, protocols and supporting mechanisms (from online self-scheduling to after hours call support) in place during regular office hours and beyond. Today’s healthcare consumers expect 24/7 access and the most successful providers deliver.
- Communicate with patients frequently and in a way that’s convenient for them. A majority of patients believe that technology supports better care, so use it to reach out with appointment reminders, preparation and discharge instructions, preventive health reminders, and messaging that helps with disease management. Doing so supports a stress-free (and wonderfully predictable) care experience – while also minimizing scheduling gaps and boosting population health.
- Welcome questions (above and beyond the regular ones). This new age of healthcare consumerism can be challenging for providers and patients alike. By welcoming patient questions specific to once taboo subjects like cost, quality and alternative therapies, you’re helping build trust, loyalty and a better healthcare consumer – and that’s good for your patient, your business and the healthcare industry at large.
Yes, consistency is where it’s at…the numbers don’t lie. Are you delivering?
The Communication Solutions Series of blog posts is sponsored by Stericycle Communication Solutions, a leading provider of high quality telephone answering, appointment scheduling, and automated communication services. Stericycle Communication Solutions combines a human touch with innovative technology to deliver best-in-class communication services. Connect with Stericycle Communication Solutions on social media: @StericycleComms
 Ipsos, Pfizer and the National Council on Patient Information and Education, April 2015
 Deloitte’s 2015 Survey of US Health Care Consumers
 RBC Capital Markets Consumer Health & Information Technology Survey, April 2015
 Beryl Institute, September 2015